It is amazing how much and how quickly paperwork can pile up on our counters and desks.

In part 1 of taking control of your paperwork we talked about sorting through all you paperwork to understand what categories you have been collecting.  today we talk about reducing the paperwork we keep.

Taking each of the piles that you created in the last step,  ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I keeping it for?  (obvious question I know but still needs to be asked)
  • Can I get this information somewhere else if I need it? (computer or online)
  • Do I need it for legal or tax purposes?
  • Is there an action associated with this paper?
  • Is there a due date- a date the item must be used by?

Asking yourself some honest questions about WHY you are keeping paper can help you really evaluate your habits and understand what you are keeping and why.  Understanding the why helps you move forward in getting it all organized and flowing in and out.

There are no right and wrong answers here, only honest answers.  If you tend to want to keep EVERYTHING and you have a good WHY then how you organize your paperwork will be different than someone who just has not taken the time to purge the old stuff and has let it pile up.

You will have several types of papers in the end of this process-

  • Papers that need to be filed,
  • Papers that need to be acted upon (bills to pay, something to read, needs signed) and
  • papers that are trash.

TRASH the ones that are no good, that you can get elsewhere IF you need them later and that you know you do not need to keep.

TIP: If you are keeping it for sentimental reasons (such as greeting cards)- take a picture of it to keep in your digital files and then toss the actual paper.

Getting organized is not about me telling you how much to keep (although I will challenge you to think really hard about the WHY  hehe) Getting organized is about being able to tame the flow of paper coming into your space and being able to find the stuff when you need it.  The more you keep, the more space you need and the more organized you need to be to keep it tamed and find it fast if you need it.  The less you keep, the less complicated the system…it is really that easy!

I never preach perfection!  Life is busy…things pile up and sometimes things get out of hand…Knowing how to tame the piles quickly when that happens is the goal here.  Paper happens, don’t let if get the best of you!!

Happy Trashing!