- Phase Two
last newsletter looked at how to declutter your paperwork. (If you missed
it you can still check it out here)
Now it's time to deal with the fine tuning, filing and storage.
four key points vital to your success in managing your paperwork...
- Keep as
little paper as you possibly can - this way you reduce the storage space
and time needed for filing. All those ancient phone bills, email print-outs
and ripped out holiday articles from 1992 really don't add anything
to the quality of your life!
procrastinate. Unfortunately paperwork won't go away just because you
find it tedious. As someone with a tendency to put off unpleasant jobs
like preparing my accounts, I do sympathise. In the end, though, I have
to accept that it's a dull part of life that needs to be dealt with.
The best way to stop things getting out of hand is to allocate a regular
slot in your diary once a week when you can turn on the radio and get
- Keep any
filing system simple - you don't need to find the perfect solution or
filing system - you just need to find a basic one that works for you
and is easy to use.
- Be very
clear when handling a piece of paper whether it is important or not.
One way to judge this is to ask yourself what would happen if you didn't
deal with it. If it's a notice you haven't paid your congestion charge
then the consequence will be an increased fine and ultimately court
proceedings - so it's important. Whereas it really doesn't matter whether
you look at a catalogue - either recycle it or put it aside to look
at one slow evening.
look at how to deal with one category of paperwork:
- Gas Utility Bills
all your gas bills together in a folder - I like transparent plastic
ones that open at the top and side, as these fit easily into box files
or inside hanging files in my cabinet.
- Now decide
how many you want to keep. If you work from home and they form part
of your tax records, then you need to speak to your accountant, but
otherwise this is an entirely personal decision. People often tell me
they like to keep a record in case they want to change energy providers
so 2 years worth is enough for this.
- Now organise
them into date order with the most recent at the front and the oldest
at the back.
this folder "Gas Bills" and either place it in a box file
marked "Utility Bills" or put it in the household section
of your filing cabinet.
- Next time
you pay a bill, put it at the front of the file and take out the oldest
one at the back and shred it. That way you never have to sort this file
other ideas that will help smooth your way
by direct debit is one way to reduce the time taken by paperwork
- In many
areas it is now possible to deal with paperwork online - so do tell
your bank if you don't want a monthly paper statement.
- Stop junk
mail wasting your time by contacting the Mail preference service www.mpsonline.org.uk.
If you have already ordered a product from a company you will have to
contact them individually to stop their catalogues. The same goes for
charities you donate to - perhaps they could contact you by email instead.
you buy any storage materials assess what you have already in place.
If you have a wonky old filing cabinet with drawers that stick it is
probably time for an upgrade, but do your decluttering before you decide
on your next one. You may find once you chuck out the dated stuff you
need a lot less storage than you think. I like box files too for bulky
items like household manuals or tax records.
- Put aside
a chunk of uninterrupted time - ideally at least an hour. Otherwise
you may find you are making little progress if you have to keep stopping
and starting mid-task.
is a huge subject but I do hope this has inspired you to take your courage
in your hands and start getting on top of it. If you need more help do
have a look at the paperwork sections in my books, Chapter 6, in no
more clutter and Chapter 12 in Hoarder
to Order. Or contact me to arrange a session of professional organising
help that will get you on your way.
change of scene can help you fast-track your paperwork.
Have a great
sort out this autumn!
no more clutter
14A New Quebec St.
London, W1H 7RS,