Lifestyle tips



14 Tips for Organising Your Paper Clutter

Posted in 'Clutter, Organising' on August 23, 2016

ClutterMany busy parents have the same problem. Piles and piles of paper. The problem is, when paper piles up then things get lost.

The trick is to question the right of each piece of paper to be in your home, and then make a decision about its future before it slides into a "someday” pile. You want to sort all your paper into Toss, File or Act.


Questions to ask for each piece of paper

Does this need to be actioned soon?

Bills, invitations and school notes all have to be actioned so deserve special treatment.

Can I get the information elsewhere?

Few bits of paper only exist in one place. If you can get the information somewhere else online if you need it, then toss it away.

Do I need the information for my tax, warranties, legal requirements?

If you do, then keep it, BUT work out if you need a hard paper copy or if a scanned copy will do.

Is the information still current?

Unless a letter or invitation has sentimental value, if it is out of date then bin it.


Here are some specific tips to help tame the paper monster in your home

1.    Urgent stuff - Have one in-tray or folder in your home for bills that have to be paid, school slips that need to be signed and invitations to be responded to. Nothing else goes in there. Ever! You get extra bonus points if you clip the papers together with a bulldog clip (so they don’t blow away), and super bonus points if you put them in date order so you know that the ones on the top have to be dealt with first.

2.    Recurring Bills – Add each recurring or regular bill to your electronic calendar and set it as an "recurring event” so you know when to expect that once a year RACQ bill or quarterly electric bill.

3.    Manuals – Download an electronic copy of your product manuals to one folder in your computer and then bin the paper version. If possible, scan the receipt for the item and store it with the manual in case you need it for a warranty claim down the track.

4.    Shred – Invest in a good quality shredder so you can shred any personally identifiable bits of paper such as envelopes, receipts etc. Either pop the paper into a shredding basket and merrily shred once a week, or have your shredder next to where you open your mail and empty your wallet and shred as you go. Add the shredded paper to your garden as mulch when you are done.

5.    Filing – Keep your filing system simple. Most people create too many folders and subcategories for expenses. Keep your categories high level and simple.

6.    Security – Invest in a quality fireproof safe, and store your passport, insurance policies, birth certificates and other important records in the safe. Keep a photo of your insurance policy number and company details in your phone in case of emergency.

7.    Tax receipts – Scan or photograph all receipts you need for your tax rather than storing mounds of paper.

8.    Recipes – If you like collecting magazines for the recipes, then rip out the important pages, scan them and then ditch the magazine. Some magazines have their recipes online, so simply download the relevant recipe from the site and store it in a recipe folder on your computer.

9.    Magazines - Keep all magazines that you are still reading to just one magazine rack or one box. If the rack or box overflows, it is time to throw away old magazines before buying new ones.

10.  Photos – If you have drawers full of old photos that you want to keep, scan the negatives (if you still have them) or scan the most important photos into your computer (and make sure you have offline backup to keep your precious memories safe).

11.  Kids art – Not all pieces of art are Picasso worthy. Display the best ones and photograph the rest before sneaking them into the bin in the dead of night or recycling them as wrapping paper for gifts.

12.  Old homework & schoolbooks – Do you REALLY need to keep all of the old schoolbooks for your children? Most old schoolbooks can disappear into the bin at the end of each school year. If there is a particular poem or story that has deep meaning, scan it and store the photo rather than the book.

13.  Takeaway Menus – These can also breed if you are not careful. Keep only the menus of places where you regularly phone in your order for delivery or pick up. Ideally keep all the menus together in one place – either on a bulldog clip or in a plastic envelope.

14.  Clear flat surfaces – If it is flat, it attracts clutter. Tables, benches and counters are magnets for paper piles. Have one paper location in your home (ideally near your computer), and put pretty things such as an ornament or flower arrangement on the other surfaces. If the space is blocked, it is harder to pile things up. 



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I cannot overstate the value of having you as my Lifestyle Manager. When I moved overseas with less than one week notice, I never thought I would find someone I could trust to manage my tax, investment properties, and mail and be the first point of contact for any business back in Australia to the same level I would. Your professionalism, good judgement and very efficient approach have saved me time, money and sanity. I am grateful for your hard work and I would be pleased to recommend your services to anyone in the future.

— L Drummond, Iraq

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