Learn How to Clean Out Paperwork Fast with my 10 Minute Paper Pile Fix!
Do you find yourself surrounded by piles of papers?
I’ve got the solution for dealing with those stacks: my 10 Minute Paper Pile Fix
How to Clean Out Paperwork Fast
Follow these simple steps to take control of your paper clutter.
First gather the simple materials for this quick project.
You will need:
- 3 file folders
- marker or pen
- trash can
- recycle bin
- your paper pile
First label 3 empty file folders: NOW, 10 MINUTES A DAY and TO FILE. (I like to use a sticky note on the front because they’re easy to see.)
If you have lots of papers you could also use 3 shallow boxes, bins or baskets rather than file folders.
Eliminate Obvious Trash
Next, quickly go through the paper and throw away any item that is clearly trash. Open any envelopes and discard the empty envelopes into the trash or recycling bin.
Do this as quickly as possible. If you’re unsure if a paper needs to be thrown away keep it for now.
Next quickly sort each piece of paper from your pile into the appropriate folder.
The Now Folder is for any paperwork that requires immediate attention:
- tag renewals
- insurance paperwork, etc.
10 Minutes a Day Folder
This folder is for items that require action, but not immediately.
- letters to respond to
- subscription renewals
- paperwork without a deadline, etc.
To File Folder
- Items that simply need to be filed away for later go into the FILE folder.
Once you’ve completed sorting you can set the 10 MINUTES A DAY folder and TO FILE folder aside for later and start on the items in your NOW folder.
How to Keep the Paperwork Cleaned Out
Take Care of the Now Folder
Once you have all the papers sorted into the appropriate folder (or labeled box if you have many papers), place the items in the NOW folder in order by date, for example, the bills that need to be paid first would be at the top of the pile.
When the papers are in order by date start with the top item and take action — pay the bill, etc. As items are completed move that paper into either the FILE folder to file later if you need to keep it or place it in the shredder or trash.
Work on the 10 Minutes a Day Folder
When the NOW folder items are taken care of you can begin working on the items in the 10 MINUTES A DAY folder. Usually by the time I’ve finished the NOW items I’m ready for a break so I put the folders away until later in the day or the next morning when I’ll spend 10 minutes working on the TEN MINUTES A DAY folder. The key is to keep the folder on your desk and spend just a few minutes each day dealing with the papers inside it.
File the Paperwork in the To File Folder
Once the TEN MINUTES A DAY folder is taken care of you can spend a few minutes a day filing everything in the TO FILE folder. These are the Files that I keep:
Active/Now Folder (on my desk) – dental bill that needs to be paid , insurance form to fill out;
Active “10 Minutes A Day” Folder (on my desk) – non-urgent receipts to record and file, a letter to respond to;
Current In-Use Binders (on the shelf next to my desk) – Budget Binder (see details here), Writing Projects (ideas and rough drafts for books I want to write, research articles), Business School (free resources I have printed and want to study to improve my business), Holiday Planner, Blog Planner;
Current Longer-Term Files (in a file box next to my desk) – current year’s bank statements, receipts, paid bills, business invoices and receipts, current car insurance, life insurance policy and paid bills, current health insurance/medical information from my daughter’s accident, car maintenance records and current year’s homeschool records.
Long -Term Storage (in file boxes in my office closet) – tax files for the last 10 years, past writing projects (like printed copies of my ebooks);
Sentimental Items – photos are stored in albums and photo boxes, and I keep a few cards and letters in a box in my closet.
Prevent Future Paperwork Clean Outs
Prevent future paper piles with these habits.
Deal with Mail Immediately
As soon as new mail comes into your home take care of it right away by:
- throwing away obvious trash
- placing remaining mail into the 3 labeled folders.
Scan and Shred
I open the Evernote app, create a note then take a photo of items like important documents I want to keep. I can easily reference these items using the Evernote search function.
Once I’ve uploaded the item, I then shred it and I’ve eliminated the paper clutter around my house. (Note: Evernote is trusted by millions of users and I’ve never heard of any problems, but if documents are very important, you may want to additionally back them up to a cloud storage service.)
Stop the Inflow
You can immediately reduce your paper clutter by opting out of advertisements and junk mail. Use the following resources:
- Go to Optoutprescreen.com to be removed from credit card and insurance mail offers.
- Go to DMA choice.org to be removed from direct mail marketing.
- The Federal Trade Commissions Consumer Alert helps you to be removed from unsolicited mail and phone calls.
Cleaning out piles of paper can be daunting, but with this simple quick plan you can do it!
Cheering You On!
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