Even in the tidiest and most organised of homes, there is one thing that never ceases to cause problems and that is the dreaded paperwork. And half of it we never even asked for – we can’t even blame ourselves for the little piles everywhere!
It flows through the door of our homes via the postman, school bags, newspapers, fliers or in work bags. And where does it find its home? In the hallway, kitchen surfaces, bedroom, living room – in short, lots of places where it is never going to be dealt with and leaves you with lots of paper piles, causing unnecessary stress each time you see it building up and up.
The first step in curbing that paper mountain is making a conscious effort to deal with it as soon as it comes through the door. If you spend just 5 or 10 minutes every day sorting your mail as soon as it arrives, you will avoid paperwork becoming a mammoth pile and a mammoth task.
As with everything else clutter related, breaking tasks down into manageable chunks is the key to reducing overwhelm.
So, pick that mail up from behind the door, get your recycling bin and shredder at the ready and declutter:
Adverts and Mailings trying to sell you stuff
Ask yourself how often you have ever bought something on the back of a mailing through the post. It’s never hard to find things to buy!
If you love a coupon, they can stay but you are going to need a process to ensure they are used in a timely manner. Be honest whether you are planning to buy that item because you have a coupon or whether it is something you would ordinarily buy.
So many of us keep letters in envelopes and it just adds to the bulk of paper to deal with. Take the letter out of the envelope and annotate the letter itself. Each envelope that goes is effectively a double sheet of paper. Reduce that bulk and reduce the overwhelm with it.
Terms and conditions
They are sent for information only because it is a legal requirement for institutions to make you aware of any changes. But how often do we really read them or take notice? If we need to refer back to Ts and Cs at any point it will be a straightforward process to get hold of a new set.
Bank/Credit Card Statements
If we have joint accounts, we often get two statements. We may have the banking app but still get a paper copy too. Put going paperless on your to do list for today and reduce that bulk immediately.
Letters that are for information only
Read the info, put any dates into your diary and you’ve done what you need to keep on top of things.
Make your charity donations something that you control. By keeping all the requests from charities, we can open ourselves up to that feeling of guilt and don’t make our decisions for the right reasons.
Make sure you don’t collect take-away menus from takeaways you will never order from. If you do receive a new flier with the latest menu from a takeaway you use, be sure to swap the old one out.
I could go on and on, but you get the gist by now.
Once a week tends to be the sweet spot in terms of how often paperwork needs our attention to keep it under control, but that is going to ebb and flow depending on what’s going on in your life administratively.
For most people who cite paper as their worst clutter nightmare, incorporating this simple daily routine makes a huge difference.
And who doesn’t love a simple habit and a simpler life?
Do you tackle your mail as soon as it arrives? How do you feel about envelopes? Are you wedded to keeping them? What other paperwork clutters your home?
This article was first published on Sixty and Me on 23rd July 2021. It can be found here.