Hi again. I’ve said earlier in the challenge that I need minimum 2 days to go through paper – so this is my second ’30 minute’ paper declutter. Do it with me if, like me, paper is also your nemesis – otherwise, choose something for yourself to ‘double up’ your declutter efforts and spend another 30 minutes on it today.
This time I have a good plan – I’ve realised that if I don’t have a PLAN for every piece of paper that comes into my home, it’ll just pile up again. But if I have a plan, and regularly WORK THAT PLAN, then it’ll stay under control.
So, here’s my list of the most common paper items that we deal with, and how to deal with them :
a) I like to keep track of our expenses to stay within budget, so I have an app I use called Expense Manager. So as soon as I’ve entered the expense into it, I throw away all receipts.
Sometimes I’ve got behind and collected a bunch of receipts – thinking optimistically that when I get some spare time, I’ll ‘catch up’ by entering that rather large collection of receipts into Expense Manager. Foolish plan. Never happened. So now, if I get behind, tough. I just don’t have a thorough record of our expenses during that period (I can, if needed, check statements online instead). So I throw them away. I just need to have an ongoing habit of entering expenses into my system – catching up isn’t going to happen, so the habit is what is important to keep up to date with my spending.
b) If you need to keep receipts for business purposes, photograph them and file in one folder, or just throw them into a shoe box or other container so they’re all in one place when tax time comes around!
2. SPONSORED CHILD UPDATES & LETTERS AND MAGAZINE
I’ll throw away all but the most recent update and letter. The most recent are handy to refer to when I want to write to our sponsored child and mention things in his/her letter.
3. OFFERS IN THE MAIL
In the bin (unopened, or I’ll open them while hovering over an open bin!)
4. TO DO LISTS
I’ve had a habit of writing various to-do lists – forgetting where they are – and starting another.
I now separate lists into a MASTER LIST and DAILY LIST. The MASTER LIST contains everything I want to do – whether today, next week or next month. And any items that need to be done today get transferred from there onto a much shorter, easy to read Daily List.
2 ways you can do this – PAPER VERSION or ELECTRONIC VERSION
PAPER LIST PAD
I love the paper list pads from Paperchase – they have a line for each item and a tick box square next to each line (very satisfying to tick off 🙂 )
I’ve tried a few. Currently I’m enjoying the Wunderlist App – you can create different lists, and separate your lists by due date – so you automatically have a MASTER LIST and DAILY LIST.
5. SCHOOL TRIP & OTHER SCHOOL FORMS
Set aside 10 minutes daily (put a recurring appointment on your phone or other device) to look through children’s school bags, fill in forms and return them to their school bag (or your bag or car if you have to return it yourself).
Put in your in-tray only if the decision needs more input before it can be actioned. Immediately add to your ‘to-do’ list (with a deadline date) that you need to make a decision on it/consult with someone to decide.
6. BANK STATEMENTS
I file Bank Statements, Shares statements, Life Insurance documents and any other documents related to our financials in a file called ‘Financials’
We have one file called ‘BILLS’ for any bills – and it’s filed alphabetically, by company. File it alphabetically by subject if that makes more sense to you. All electricity, mortgage, council tax, medical and other bills go here – but not bills related to our Car – we have a separate file for that.
8. CHILD ASSESSMENT REPORTS
I have a file labelled with my children’s names (do a separate file for each child if needed). Any relevant information such as child assessment reports, orthodontist plans etc go in that file – in separate sections.
This also includes child school reports.
9. ARTWORK FROM SCHOOL
As mentioned in the Artwork declutter section, most will be photographed, then thrown away.
10. BUSINESS CARDS
Input into contact system, then thrown away.
Birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day cards, cards from children…the list goes on. All but the most special and sentimental are thrown away. Of those special ones, many I will now photograph and file in one of my favourite apps, Evernote, in a notebook called ‘Memorabilia’.
All sorts of miscalleneous paper ends up in our home: Examples are board game instructions, notes I’ve written to remind myself of things, recipe cards from supermarkets, confirmation of building works etc
Most can be added to a to-do list or returned to where they should belong (board game instructions back in the board game box) or filed (confirmation of building works in ‘Bills’, recipe cards with recipes) or thrown away.
So, what about you? How’s your paper pile going? Mine is looking a LOT better.
See you on Day #13.