I’ll bet if I conducted a survey to determine where people are most challenged with getting and staying organized I’d find that paper is the biggest challenge. In my 12+ years of professional organizing experience I have spent more time helping people clear and organize paper than anything else.
Why is paper so difficult?
- It’s flat and every piece requires a decision, so it’s hard to quickly make progress when going through papers.
- It’s boring. So much of it is white with black lettering. That color combination just shuts down the brain!
- It keeps coming. Almost every day paper flows into the home. Every day it requires attention in some form or fashion.
- The systems required to process and retain papers are not taught in school. Most people are flying by the seat of their pants when they attempt to keep their papers organized.
What would make dealing with paper easier?
- Get rid of more paper. 80-90% of what is filed never gets touched again.
- Remember to keep only those papers you are likely to USE in some way. The best way to determine if you will use a particular type of paper is to pay attention to the types of paper you have had to retrieve in the past.
- Take deliberate action EVERY DAY to process paper that has come into the home. Go through the mail, school papers, receipts, etc. and move them along to a place where they can be acted on or stored.
- Make paper move along a specific path, always landing in one spot to be sorted and then deliberately moved to specific places to be acted on or stored.
- Keep paper in as few places as possible–preferably limiting it to the kitchen action area and home office areas.
- Remember, you won’t be arrested for not having papers you have pitched. If you throw away a paper and later need it, it’s likely you’ll only suffer inconvenience or embarrassment. In many cases you can retrieve the information you are seeking in another way.
- Remember, you will feel more in control and life will be easier if your papers are in order and accessible.