no more clutter logo no more clutter newsletter for Autumn 2003
  Scaling the paper mountain

This issue I'm focusing on the most challenging areas to get organised - your paperwork. Dealing with paperwork and documents strikes fear and panic into many people's hearts both at work and at home. It's a myth that computers have led to the paperless office. On the contrary we all seem to be drowning in a never-ending stream of paper.

Here's the 5 most common habits that lead to paper clutter
  • piling papers everywhere - on the floor, behind the sofa, in the kitchen, in the bedroom, and under, on and all around your desk... As these piles develop important papers get muddled up with old newspapers, clothing, unopened junk mail. So important things like cheques and car insurance get lost. You waste a lot of time and get frustrated and stressed looking for them.
  • holding onto old newspapers and magazines because you are sure one day you'll have the time to read them.
  • pulling out articles of interest but then just adding these to the paper mountain
  • not having a simple up-to-date filing system or not having anywhere at all to keep documents
  • not dealing with paperwork or post on a regular basis. A backlog builds up which would be daunting for anyone!

If you recognise yourself, don't despair. Follow the tips for organising your paperwork and make a start today.

At home

Choose one place to store all your paperwork. Avoid the kitchen (it's too greasy) and your bedroom (this is your sanctuary to relax in). Choose your spare room, a corner of your dining room or living room. Get a cardboard box or plastic crate and gather up all the papers you can find. Now go through it one paper at a time and allocate to one of the following categories.

  • Action - buy an individual filing tray for paper that needs action, like bills to pay or letters to answer. Note down these actions in a notebook, diary or on your computer.
  • Rubbish - either bin or recycle it. Invest in a shredder to dispose of any confidential information. Rymans and other office suppliers have a good selection of these.
  • File - if you already have a filing system then file as you go. If not, buy some transparent folders plus labels and put all similar items together - all documents to do with your car, all investment documents, all gas bills, all bank statements, all appliance manuals. Make sure you label everything. Use specific categories like water rates or home insurance. You are aiming to find documents easily - ideally within 30 seconds!
  • Read - No-one has time to read everything. If you're too busy to catch up with the backlog of unread magazines, pass them on to someone else who will enjoy them.
  • Sentimental - keep special birthday, Xmas cards and letters, but be selective. Store in a beautiful memory box.

Now you have sorted your paperwork you will be able to tell what size of filing cabinet you need or how many box files to buy.

At work

I recently visited an accountant. His desk was piled so high with files that our eyes could only meet over a wall of documents. Perhaps he thought it made him look busy and efficient. To me it felt like the whole lot would topple down at any time. Having a clear desk doesn't mean you're idle - instead it means you're efficient and ready to deal with things as they arise. So remember:

  • Don't pile paperwork on the floor. This includes the area under your desk!
  • Deal with things at the time whenever possible. Open the post daily and get rid of junk mail immediately.
  • Springclean your filing system at least once a year. The dead time between Christmas and New Year is a good time to do this. It's amazing how quickly most paperwork is no longer essential.
  • If in doubt about how long to keep financial records have a chat with your accountant.

Keep your desk clear and tidy it up at the end of each day

Don't be scared of paper. Remember you're in control of it - it's not in control of you. Save yourself time, stress and money by getting on top of it today.

Good luck and if you need help then give Sue at no more clutter a call. Her background in setting up information systems for charities means she enjoys sorting out paperwork. Ideal for your home filing, your home office or sorting out a small business. A 4 hour session costs £200 in zones 1-3. Additional travel charges will apply outside this area.

Call Sue on 020 8444 5149 or 07974 076 675

Phone Coaching

For those of you living outside the London area Sue offers phone coaching to help you on the path to clearing clutter from your home and office. A coaching package of £100 includes 1 hour session plus 2 half hour sessions. You are free to email in between times with any queries

Unusual Gift

Why not ask for a decluttering gift voucher for Christmas?. £200 for 4 hour visit or £100 for the phone coaching package. Make 2004 the year you kiss goodbye to clutter taking over your life.

Sue's Autumn Read

The decluttering book that changed my life (as mentioned in the recent SHE article) is "Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui" by Karen Kingston Price £6.99. It's a great read even if you don't believe in Feng Shui. Karen looks at the emotional blocks to decluttering and helps you to overcome them.

Read more about Decluttering...

in this month's (November's) issue of House Beautiful magazine (starting on p.65). Read how decluttering improved the quality of life of one of Sue's clients.

And pass it on...

If you found this newsletter interesting or helpful (or even both!), why not share it with a friend. Click the "Forward" button on your emailer or print it out to send it to someone who might like a read.

Sue Kay works with a wide range of clients to organise home offices, small businesses, declutter before a house move, prepare their spare room for a new baby and organise your wardrobe ready for the new season. If you're selling your home, she can help you present it clutter-free for the market, to achieve a quick and profitable sale. For practical sympathetic help call Sue on 07974 076 675 or 020 8444 5149 or check out the website at


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