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In the majority of American homes, managing paper is one of the biggest sources of clutter-related stress. As a Professional Organizer, everyone I meet asks me questions about paper. 80% of the calls I get are about paper. Why is paper so difficult to organize?
In this new series on organizing paper, we’ll explore deeper paper organizing issues including the psychology of our relationship with paper. I’ll offer suggestions on ways to relate to your paper differently so that you can take back control. I’ll also be discussing how to sort paper and create systems for keeping it organized so that you can find it when you need it.
The first reason paper is so overwhelming to organize is this: SHEER VOLUME! The amount of paper that comes into our homes daily is increasing all the time. In fact, we get more mail in a single day than our grandparents got in an entire year! Add to that the paper we acquire from school, work, vacations, etc. and if you hold on to even half of it, you have the makings of a serious paper crisis on your hands.
Personally, even after getting off the junk mail lists, I recycle or shred 90% of the paper that comes into my home. And I still have 3 file drawers and several binders full of actively used paper.
In researching my upcoming book on paper, I counted over 35 types of paper we have to organize. And each of them gets organized in different ways! There are also at least 5 -10 and sometimes literally hundreds of choices of tools to organize each of the 35 types of paper. No wonder there aren’t any existing comprehensive books on the subject of organizing paper. There are, of course, hundreds of books that include tips on organizing paper - but many of them contradict each other. The thing is, all of these tips may work for some people but may not work for you. For more tips to help you make better paper organizing choices, check out my free 30 page e-book on home office organizing.
For now, let's focus on what you can do immediately to start taking charge of the amount of paper coming into your life. Here is one of my best tips:
***Get off the mailing lists!***
Receiving less mail will save you so much time. It will greatly reduce the stress of sorting it out and trying to decide what to do with it all. It will save wear and tear on your shredder too. It could even help your town reduce the cost of recycling.
FACT: $320 million of local taxes are used to dispose of unsolicited mail each year. If we all made an effort to stop the mail from coming in, we could help keep property taxes from rising so quickly!
Here are some very effective and easy to use links for getting off Junk Mail Lists:
In Part 2, we’ll continue this exploration of how we can reframe the way we relate to our paper by looking at our emotional attachments to paper. See you then!
Copyright © 2007 Ariane Benefit
If you would like to reprint this article on your blog or other publication please email or call for permission and send me a link to how it appears. Also be sure to include my bio as shown below. Thanks!
Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed, Organizing Consultant is the founder of Neat & Simple professional organizers. She specializes in helping people create the homes & offices of their dreams! As an organizing coach, she guides people in clarifying priorities and making the difficult decisions needed to conquer clutter, change habits, and take charge of their lives. She is also the author of the popular organizing and decluttering blog, Neat & Simple Living, and a 30 page e-book on home office organizing.