OK, so here we are, three months into the new year, and you know you want to get organized! Let’s talk about paper—everyone’s nemesis—and yet somehow, we can’t let it go. Even I, with all my online accounts—still want the phone and electric companies to send me a paper bill. That way, in case I disappear from the face of the earth—someone will see that I have bills to pay, and that yes, I did exist! That will probably be my husband, or at least Anthony, my postal concierge, when he sees my mailbox fill up. So, dear friends, we all wish that we had less paper, but for most of us, it’s hard to let go. Younger people like the millennials are less conflicted, having grown up in a digital world, but the rest of us…resist, and here’s a list of common reasons why we love/hate our paper (and solutions to have less paper):
- If I see it, I won’t forget to pay my bills, to call that person, or make a reservation for that event next spring. Solution: Use a reminder system, a calendar system or bill paying system to help you remember.
- It’s proof that I was there or paid the bill. Solution: keep only the last twelve months of bills and for memorabilia- take a picture of your Bette Midler ticket in Hello Dolly and put it in your digital files or phone.
- Not sure what to keep or throw out. Solution: Figure it out or call someone who knows and then get shredding.
- Don’t want to lose my memories. Solution: If your memories include every greeting card you have ever received, it is quickly becoming junk, so start to thin them out.
- Just in case, I need it. I told one client, “You are NOT the library of congress and it is not your job to maintain information, just in case OTHER people need it!” (not yelling here, just emphasizing…) Solution: 99% of what you need is on the internet or a phone call away.
- Important documents OK, we get this especially in reference to accounts, taxes, birth certificates, Solution: file them where you can find them and tell someone else.
- Newspapers/magazines. If you calculate how long it takes you to read all of one edition of New York Times, that could take an entire day! Do really have enough time to “catch up”?! Solution: keep less than a week’s worth of newspapers,and less than three months’ worth of magazines. Also limit your magazine subscriptions to those you really love and read – three seems the right number.
Ironically, the more we have, the less we’re likely to be able to find what we need! Some people have multiple copies of the same donation requests or catalogs from the same vendor for fear that they won’t be able to find it when they need it. Create a home for those things you want to keep to resist having duplicates clutter up your house. Once you decide what you need to keep and where to store it, the volume of paper in your home will naturally start to decrease. This is what professional organizers call, “having a system” and it will help you to get and stay organized, and will help you to have less paper. Happy Organizing!