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There is a really quick way to deal with paper clutter. That is, to get rid of it. As in, ALL of it.
Paper clutter used to be my biggest problem, next to books and clothes, although not necessarily in that order. But I’ve devised a system for dealing with paper clutter and it’s quite simple, really. Get rid of paper as soon as you can. Keep it out of your home. Digitize it and then begone. Keep a filing system for only a handful, and declutter it twice a year. Paper can become really agonizing and stacks up quite quickly without us realizing it. Have you ever tried to shred ‘important documents’ before? If you have, then you’ll know.
I recommend the following:
Don’t take home flyers.
You know, the one they hand out at events or stick to your windshield? Or worse, the business cards one may pass along to you. I know it’s hard to do, but practice saying ‘no thank you’. For those sneakily slipped beneath my windshield wipers, I find a public trash can right away.
Unsubscribe to mail.
Mail can get a bit unruly. The trick is to limit the mailman’s load. Unsubscribe to all magazines, flyers, companies, etc. Even the non-paid subscriptions are a hassle. I’ve found that these companies somehow regain access to my address and weasel their way into my mail box. I just keep calling and telling them to put an end to it. Do you really need to look at more of the things they want you to buy?
Almost every company has a paperless option by now. When possible, we choose paperless. The reason being, these companies are usually the ones that send account information home. Bank accounts, electric bills, and mortgage updates – all paperless for us! The reward is two-fold; less chances of someone else getting access to your information, and less mail to sort through and shred.
Open mail right away, sort and discard.
The most common thing people do when they get the mail is put in a basket ‘for later’. Man, what an eyesore! We don’t even keep a basket. Mail that gets brought in is looked at and discarded ASAP. Those that have tasks associated with them (making a payment or appointment) are completed as soon as possible which kills two birds with one stone – it gets the job done and it clears the table of hideous mail. Voila!
Digitize, whenever possible.
This, I had a problem with for a long time. I was quite fond of paper, even though this post wouldn’t hint at it otherwise. My class notes I kept after college. Letters from friends in middle school were tucked away in a drawer. I have essays that I wrote once, diary entries meant just for me. All of that is now gone. I realized that the more I threw away, the easier it was to let go. For those I couldn’t bear to part with, I scanned and digitized. Since scanning takes work, I decided it would behoove me to be very selective, but also, to vow never again to collect as much paper as I did. Call it a lazy person’s curse, but I hardly wish to keep paper things anymore.
Keep the most important pages in a filing cabinet.
There are a few papers that you can’t digitize, then throw away. My degree, for example. My license. My naturalization papers and my passport. These we keep in a filing cabinet. My motto is: Out of sight, out of mind. This one is my favorite minimalist option, although CB2 has a number of options, too. Pro tip: Declutter twice a year to prevent stock piling. Perhaps what you once thought was necessary no longer feels that way after de-cluttering.