We live in a digital, electronic world, but many of us still struggle with paper clutter. Whether it's our bills, or junk mail, and old files and papers, paper can build up and quickly become overwhelming. If we have a goal to become paperless, or as paperless as we can be, there are a few things we can do today to lessen the paper we have coming in, so we can handle the current paper we already have. Change your mailing preferences.
One of the simplest things you can do right now is to set your mailing preferences, specifically for your bills, to email only. How often do you keep these papers long term? Do you look at them to pay your bills or just log into your online account?
Choose to be emailed receipts on checkout, or at the doctors office.
Nowadays, we get asked if we want a paper receipt, emailed receipt, or both. Ask to be emailed the receipt instead of ending up with a pile of paper receipts. You need the receipts for taxes, or a business expense? That’s fine! Now you already have the receipts uploaded into one place and you don’t have to hunt those receipts down when you are reconciling your account. Most systems ask us to upload the receipt anyway, so why not save a step! (Please check with your accountant if you are keeping receipts for tax and business purposes about the best way to hold onto your receipts.)
Have a filing system.
What? If I’m trying to go paperless, why do I need a filing system? There are things that we do have to keep as a paper version. We must have a filing system in place that can house these items in an organized way. We also will inevitably receive paper items that we need to hold on it, at least for the immediate future. To help lessen the paper clutter, having a simple filing system - or even folder, can create an organized space to house these items. I have shared this before, but I have 3 folders on my desk for my paper, receipts, etc. - Action Items, To Be Entered, and To Be Filed. I tackle this folders on a regular basis and it makes it easy for me to know exactly what I need to do with the items in the folders. It’s simple and it works for me.
Create a habit of sorting those files on a regular basis.
It can be simple to create folders and set up the filing system, but it doesn’t work if we don’t make it a habit to actually put things in it and sort through them on a regular basis. If we don’t go through the files, they can become as messy as our paper clutter on our desk once was. Whether you sort once a week, or once a month, find that habit that works for you to keep that clutter under control.
Sort your mail.
An overlooked step to tackling the paper clutter. A lot of mail we receive is often junk mail, and if we don’t handle it right away, it can build up fast. Go through it when it comes in - keep what needs to be kept, and dispose of the things we don’t need right away. Tackling that mail pile on a regular basis can help tame the clutter.
How can we make that huge step towards being paperless?
There are two steps to creating that paperless system. First, we need to know what we have and what things need to be kept. Are we keeping receipts? Bills? Information? Take a look at the paper clutter you have and the paper items that you need to/ want to keep and start there. Organize it, sort it by topic, year, etc. Once we know what we have we can set up our digital filing system. (Stay tuned for an upcoming post on setting up your digital filing system!)
From there, we start creating and building habits to keep our digital filing system up to date and consistent.
The path to going paperless is not quick, and it’s not always easy, but it is possible and can help create a calmer environment for your home.