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10 Ways to Cut Down Your Paper Clutter

Published on June 24th, 2015

paper clutter10 Ways to Cut Down Your Paper Clutter

Paper clutter can be exhausting and overwhelming. You know you need to do something about it but where do you start? There’s so much filing, tossing and shredding to do. Who has time for that? I’ll admit – it may take some time in the beginning to get your paper clutter under control but if you implement any or all of these strategies (and stick to them), it will help you in the long run!

 1. Pay your bills online and sign up for paperless bills

We’re so used to having our monthly bills sent to us in the mail to serve as a reminder that it’s time to pay. Along with this friendly reminder comes the frustration of what to do with the bill afterwards. File it? Shred it? Put it in the pile of old bills on your desk?

This is where the problem begins. At this point, most bills can be paid online and you can even opt to have your bills sent to you via email. Paperless bills! To make things a little simpler, set up a new email account for the sole purpose of receiving those monthly bills so you don’t miss it among your countless other emails. Worried about missing the due date? Set up reminders in your calendar or sign up for automatic payments.

2. Get acquainted with the recycling bin and paper shredder.

Don’t let your mail pile up. Once you get your daily mail, open it over the recycling bin. It’s the easiest and quickest way to get rid of junk mailings, envelopes and other paper clutter. If you need to toss mail containing sensitive information, invest in a paper shredder and shred it immediately. Don’t wait until you have a pile, this makes it so much more overwhelming.

 3. File it or scan it.

Create a filing system for your important papers. If you still feel more comfortable receiving bills in the mail, make it easy for yourself. Take note of the payment details and immediately file the bill away in its designated folder.

If you’re more technologically-savvy, scan all important paperwork and digitally file it away. You can always use your typical home scanner or you can invest in a Neat scanner. The Neat scanner scans documents (and receipts) incredibly fast and even has technology where it can extract key information from the scan and input into popular accounting and business software. It helps eliminate some of the painful data entry work. Don’t forget: once it’s scanned and documented, shred it or toss it away.

4. How many magazine subscriptions do you have?!?!

We all fall victim to those great magazine subscription offers but do you find yourself not having time to read them? Instead, the magazines pile up on the coffee table, desk and nightstand? If so, it’s time to evaluate your subscription list. Cancel the subscriptions you no longer need and/or never get around to reading and keep those you still make the time to enjoy on a regular basis.

5. Stop the junk mail!

It’s mind-blowing the amount of money, resources and paper that is wasted on sending millions of Americans junk mail that they will never read! If you find yourself receiving a lot of junk mail which in turn becomes part of your paper clutter at home, it’s time to do something about it. To start, make sure you immediately place all junk mail in the recycling bin before it becomes a growing pile in your kitchen. Next, there are companies out there that can help people opt-out of junk mail such as Catalog Choice. And guess what? It’s free.

6. Coupon-mania!

Many people cut coupons, forgot to take them to the store and end up with a bin or drawer filled will unused, expired coupons. Let’s change that. If you like to coupon shop, create a system that will help you actually use the coupons. Whether it’s having a special reusable envelope to keep in the kitchen, easily accessible for when you run to the store or maybe you transfer the coupons to a folder stored in the car so they’re there when you need them. Whatever it is, find a system that works for you and stick to it.

7. Manage your receipts

Receipts are another problem area for people. They pile up quickly. You’re not really sure what to do with them but you know you need to keep them. Once again, create a system and stick to it. If you keep receipts for tax purposes, think about utilizing some of the great expense/receipt tracker apps. Simply scan your receipt, the app will extract important information and transfer it to popular accounting and business programs. If you feel you still need to hold onto the hard copy, file it away immediately after you’ve scanned. Get rid of that paper clutter!

If you just like to keep track of your expenses, one of these apps may work for you as well. If you’d rather hold onto the receipts, again create a system: establish a temporary receipt holding place in your home, schedule a weekly time to input the information and then file them away.

 8. What do people do with business cards in this digital age?

As we shift more and more into a technology-driven, paperless age, there’s some “relics” from years past that haven’t caught up yet. Business cards are still handed out, whether from social or networking events, a business meeting or a recent visit from a service professional – we still accumulate piles of business cards. What do we do them? Nine times out of ten they end up stuffed in a desk drawer or scattered across your desk. A mess. Eliminate this dilemma by either scanning or manually entering the contact information into your Smartphone’s contacts and then feel free to recycle the card. If you feel the need to hold on to the card, once again, find a place to file these away.

9. Evernote will save your sanity!

Have you discovered Evernote yet? If not, I’m about to change your life. Evernote is a cloud-based app accessible on your computer and any mobile device. You can use Evernote to create notes with the ability to organize your notes into categorized notebooks. You can create tags (or keywords) for each of your notes so then you can search by those tags to easily find those notes in the future. You can scan or take photos to input into Evernote. You can access it from anywhere and it’s free. You can opt to upgrade to a premium membership for $5 per month if you so choose.

It’s a great place to save grocery shopping lists, medication lists, meeting minutes, business ideas, pages of that novel you’re writing – it’s really up to you. Evernote will help you eliminate all those post-it note reminders around your house and random notes you’ve jotted down quickly and now can’t find.

Another pointer: you no longer need to keep hard copy user manuals for items around your home. Find the digital version on the manufacturer’s website. If you can download it, do just that and store it in an Evernote notebook categorized for User Manuals. If you can’t download a PDF form of the manual, copy and paste the website URL into your Evernote for future easy access.

10. Designate a mail center in your home

For most, mail tends to end up on the first place we drop it when we come home. The foyer table, kitchen counter, dining room table, anywhere. Instead implement these practices but also designate a mail center in your home. There are so many décor-friendly mail organization options to choose from. Find a great place for this in your home and use the mail center to sort your mail. Don’t forget to toss the junk mail – this is not just another place for mail to sit. Instead this should function as a place to store mail which requires action. Use this to your advantage and not as a procrastination tool.

What other ways have you eliminated paper clutter in your home? It’s a problem we all deal with. Paper clutter can wear you down and make you feel extremely unorganized and at times stressed. Use the strategies you think will work best for you and personalize them to your lifestyle. Make them work for you. Don’t make it another chore because then you won’t do it. Manage and eliminate your paper clutter and it will help you eliminate some stress.

This article was written and submitted by Magnolia Atelier’s Principal Owner, Ms. Margaret Williams. Magnolia Atelier specializes in Event Planning, Marketing and Company Organization and Branding. For more information regarding their services please visit www.magnoliaatelier.com

 

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