Paper clutter is annoying. It’s the one thing in my house that piles up and gives me a bit of anxiety because it usually means it is something that needs to be dealt with, like paying a bill or reaching out to a company. It is also the one category I have to keep coming back to again and again because I have never set up a good system for myself.
I keep all my paperwork in a zip wallet in the cupboard in my desk and I tend to just shove things in there to deal with on a later date. Since changing jobs, working from home and buying my first home, that paperwork has stacked up over 6 months and I was not looking forward to dealing with it. But here is what I decided to do.
I walked around my whole apartment and pulled out papers from everywhere, my desk, notebook, bag, wallet, sideboard and the front of my fridge and put everything on a pile on top of my desk.
I went through every single piece of paper and made 3 piles: to keep, to deal with and to recycle. My to deal with pile was basically anything that I needed to scan and upload to my google drive (I just use the scan function on google drive from my phone), or appointment letters that I added to my calendar. This all then went to the recycling. I got rid of my notebook as I tend to use notion or sticky notes to write down any notes.
Reference list of papers to declutter:
Tax documents older than 3 years UK, 7 years US
Work documents you do not reference to
Out of date warranties
Product manuals (they’re all online anyway!)
Organizing Documents and Paper
With everything that remained, I sorted into categories, so I knew how many categories there were to add to my new storage system. I put all my property deeds and files in a separate wallet as there are so many documents to keep.
Reference list of documents to keep:
Identification (birth certificate, passport, driving licence, marriage certificate, adoption records)
Health documents (diagnostic letters, health insurance)
Employment records (contracts)
Tax documents (3 years from the date filed only in UK, 7 years in US)
In date warranties
Document Filling Systems
I was sort of following the Konmari method, storing everything uncategorised in one place (but I didn’t have an inbox or “to deal with” pile). As my needs have changed, this also needed to change. I bought myself this super cheap but excellent document organizer from amazon basics range; I really love the minimalist design of it. After sorting my documents into categories, I made labels for each tab with my label maker and filed everything away.
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Reducing Paper Clutter Going Forward
I’m sure you’ve heard it many times but opt for your bills, car insurance, bank statements etc to be sent to you online.
To reduce annoying unaddressed mail, In the UK you can visit the Royal Mail website here and opt out of receiving any leaflets or unaddressed promotional material.
Use apps like notion and google drive to make notes and store information.
Have an inbox tray or “to deal with” pile. I am going to put anything that needs to be dealt with on a pile on my desk. You could get a cute inbox tray to store these items in or a magazine file. I have set a day each week to sit down and deal with everything in this pile, to stop me from shoving everything into a drawer.
What do you do to reduce your paper clutter? I would love to hear your tips!