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  • Writer's pictureJo Hall

Purge your Papers - 5 tips for reducing and organising paper clutter

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Many of us have had access to computers for around thirty years now. Wasn't it the vision that we'd all be paperless by 2020?

That may well have the prediction, but the reality is far from it! Our inboxes and online filing systems are full to the brim and yet so many people still sit in offices, surrounded by mountains of paper.

Perhaps our generation (I'm talking about 70's/80's kids) are the worst for this? We've embraced the technology, but still we seem to cling on to the security of the printed page!

This blog is dedicated to a couple of the online Decluttering & Organising clients I'm working with at the moment. They've both made the commitment to 1. Reduce paper clutter. 2. Organise what needs to be kept into a system. 3. Adopt habits for the future which make a clutter free office easy to maintain.

What's essential? - before you start, spend time working out what (if anything), really needs to be kept in paper form. Legal requirements have changed over the years and often now documents can archived online, rather than stored as a paper copy. Requirements vary from country to country and by organisation, so you will need to check the websites of your bank and insurance companies etc. so that you know exactly what their expectations are. Once you've found the guidelines, note them down, so that every time paperwork from that organisation arrives, you know exactly what you need to do with it.

organised papers bulldog clips filing system
Categorise papers as soon as they come in

Scan, scan, scan - 95% of paper that comes into our homes, if it needs to be kept at all, can be scanned and filed online. Scanning these days doesn't even have to involve complicated or bulky equipment, did you know that there is a scanner built into the "Notes" section of an iPhone.

Create a filing system - that works for you. One that reflects your family life today, not 20 years ago! For digital filing, set up folders on your computer and name them so that they are easy to recognise and access by everybody who needs to use them. Examples might be Banking, Bills, Insurance, School, Health, Memberships, Receipts etc.

Make a quick decision - on every piece of paper that comes into your house. Use labelled clear plastic pockets or bulldog clips, so that ever piece of paper that comes into your house, is immediately categorised. I use To Do, Scan/File, Read, Shred (goes straight into the shredder tray), Recycle (goes straight in the recycling basket). Plan time in your diary to "process" these files once a week and do the shredding. If you get into the habit of organising papers, as soon as they come in, paper clutter won't have the chance to build up.

Clearing the backlog - in order to have a fresh start, the chances are you'll need to clear the backlog. The key to conquering this, is little and often. Grab a pile, set the timer on your phone for 20 minutes and go through it. If you can find twenty minutes a day, every day until you've got through it, it won't seem like such an overwhelming task. If you have an older child and a shredder, why not show them how to use it? it's quite a fun task and you could always reward them with the promise of an ice cream together when it's done, or even make it one of their regular pocket money jobs. If you don't have access to a shredder and want to at least clear your backlog, Shred It can be booked for a one off domestic visit.

Are you going to join my clients in pledging to purge your papers

Let me know in the comments below ⬇️

Jo Hall is a Professional Home Organiser and Clutter Free Living expert 🏠

If you would love to have a really good sort out but don't know where to start, or maybe you've made a great start with it, but have since lost your way, Jo can help!

Jo works online with clients worldwide 🌍 via 1:1 sessions, DIY resources and group courses 👩‍💻 Guiding overwhelmed people to break free from the burden of stuff.

Get in touch to fix up a no obligation chat: Less Is More

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