Take Control of Your Paperwork

desk covered with paper clutter, eyeglasses and a computer representing take control of your paperwork

Americans are known for keeping more than they need – and that includes paperwork! Typically, Americans have too much paperwork coming into the home and too little going out. The goal of this article is to motivate you to take control of your paperwork and develop a plan to eliminate unnecessary paper.

“Office clutter is almost always a paper problem.”

Peter Walsh

Reduce the Amount of Incoming Paper

Do you receive paper copies of your monthly invoices and statements? Be intentional and ask yourself, “Why do I need to receive and potentially keep this statement?” If you do not need it for tax or legal purposes, you are probably keeping it simply for reassurance. Many people say they need to review their monthly statements. But most folks let months and months of invoices and statements pile up before looking at them. When you take control of your physical paper, you can reduce and eliminate late fees and missed payments because you didn’t pay the bill on time.

Set up automatic payments and choose paperless billing. Automatic payments eliminate the costs associated with late fees, and paperless billing means no more incoming paperwork. It’s a win-win situation! Firstly, open an online account to view and download your statements. Write the date and time you contacted the companies on your list. Most companies will email you an invoice alert to review before the payment date. If you are uncomfortable with automatic payments, set up reminders in your digital or paper calendar so you can log in and pay the bill a few days before it is due.

For the critical paperwork you receive, I recommend using a vertical organization system versus a horizontal one. With a horizontal system, people tend to drop superfluous items on any pile, even if it doesn’t belong there. Then, they must sort, declutter, and organize all over again. Choosing a vertical filing system offers three benefits.

  1. Eliminates Piling: Because you can’t pile papers, you tend to be more mindful of what you add to each file category.
  2. Forces Action: With a vertical filing system, you will likely review your file categories more regularly because space is limited, whereas a horizontal pile can grow and grow.
  3. Space Saver: A vertical filing system takes up less space on your desk than a horizontal “pile of files” system.

My favourite vertical organizers are:

Eliminate Existing Paperwork in your Home.

It is essential to dispose of confidential and sensitive documents properly. If you don’t, someone could easily steal your identity if they had access to your paperwork. Having a small shredder is necessary for convenience and security. Also, you can recycle shredded paper.

Having a shredder handy to take control of your daily paperwork is essential. An ideal shredder is compact, portable, and user-friendly. However, if the pile of documents to shred is taller than the shredder, consider hiring a shredding service.

  • Shred-it: Get a customized quote and book an appointment. A truck will come to your home and shred your documents on the spot or take your documents away for secure destruction.
  • Iron Mountain: Offers onsite and offsite shredding. They also partner with Office Depot.
  • Use a locally owned, i-SIGMA-certified business (i-SIGMA® is the International Secure Information Governance & Management Association, an industry trade association for secure data destruction).

“‘Later’ is the best friend of clutter.”

Peter Walsh

Although overwhelming, it is critical to take control of your paperwork. If you feel the task is too arduous, working with a professional organizer can provide clarity and keep you on track.

You can do this! Unclutter Me by Lisa Witzleben is here to assist you.

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