How To Eliminate Paperwork Chaos

How To Eliminate Paperwork Chaos

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Paperwork organizing can be overwhelming at times. Two weeks ago I said "that's it!" and declared my war on paperwork. First of all, this is a pretty big deal because even though I am a pretty organized person I realized I was still being held back by this persistent pile of paperwork that I just kept shuffling back and forth from one room to another.

Therefore, in a fit of frustration I realized There must be a better way!!

As a result, I sat down with my random pieces of paper about two inches deep, and got ruthless. Anything that I had been holding onto for more than a month, but not acted on, was pitched. Anything that simply needed to be filed or could be acted on immediately (i.e. write a thank you note) was done immediately. Finally, the few papers that were left were put into a simple file folder with a sticky note attached of what action is required of it to be done at a later date.

About three hours later when I was done only six pieces of paper remained and I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. And I declared VICTORY!

But that was just winning one battle, and as I state in the beginning of this post, this is war! What am I now doing differently to make sure another gremlin menagerie of documentation randomness doesn't creep back into my life? Here are a few of my successful strategies:

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For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.

— Benjamin Franklin

Paperwork Organizing Strategies

As with any united front, strategy and discipline are the keys. It is more than two weeks later and I'm proud to report my paperwork piles have not resurfaced. Here are the main reasons why:

  • I sort all mail before it comes into the house. Any junk mail goes immediately in the recycle bin.

  • Bills get paid immediately.

  • I make a conscious effort to keep paper from coming into the house. For example, in meetings, I refrain from bringing paperwork home with me unless absolutely necessary. If it is already an attachment on an email, it can stay soft-copy for future reference.

  • Use it or lose it! If a piece of paper isn't serving an active purpose I get rid of it. Purpose is the key word here! Is this particular piece of paper providing a utilitarian action that no other piece of paper is? If it isn't, I get rid of it.

  • I keep things short-term. Any of the papers I do keep have a limited life function of maximum four weeks. Anything older than that is simply outdated and either needs to be a) filed in archive (binders or digital) or b) you guessed it: pitched!

  • I don't allow myself any kind of physical in-box, filing folders, or other place for papers to get "tucked away." Not having a place for paperwork to accumulate forces me to deal with it immediately, or realize it is not that important, and get rid of it.

You Can DO IT!!

As a result, these strategies are paperwork organizing game changers.

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