Thursday, June 6, 2013

Paper Clutter - It happens to us all!

My biggest challenge when it comes to minimalism is keep paper clutter at bay.  It seems that no matter what I do our desk in our office always turns into this:

And with a big move coming up we need to reduce our paper to the essentials.  So I decided to start a personal challenge to minimize paper clutter and I encourage you to come along for the ride with me!  The steps I took were as follows:

1. Sort through the paper and determine what you have (yes we used our floor and any available space during the process!)

In my sorting I came across # of categories
a) receipts
b) husbands materials for school
c) old mail
d) bank statements and bills
e) misc cards, letters, newspaper clippings etc.

2. Discard anything we do not need.

I ended up shredding most receipts and only kept the ones for our big purchases such as furniture and appliances.  All old mail got thrown.  The more sentimental items such as cards and letters and newspaper clipping we took photos of or scanned to keep digitally and then threw away.  This was emotionally difficult, but we have photos of every card and the messages contained in them and can more easily look through them on our computer and phones than in a pile on the desk.

3. Create an easy and organized filing system.

We already have two small binders to keep important documents in.  We added just a few more plastic sleeves in order to keep the bank-statements and bills organized as well as a section for important receipts with any warranties or manuals.

4. Any non-paper items dumped on the desk should either be put back in their proper place or discarded.

I found cds, pens, tape, boxes, bottles, etc. around the desk as well.  Most of these I returned to their 'homes' or I put in a donation pile or into the garbage/recycling.

And the final result looks like this:

Our goal was to have a clean and clear workable surface.  The only things remaining at the desk are our computers, and the library books and school papers my husband needs as he works on finishing his masters degree in the next few months.  All important documents have been filed away into the two binders that now sit in our book shelf.  All discarded paper has been taken to our community recycling bins.

In order to prevent this situation from happening again we are committing ourselves to dump all junk mail and envelopes directly into the paper recycling bag by our waste bin. Bills and bank statements are to go directly into the respective plastic folder, and to keep these from piling up, for every new statement we will throw away the oldest one in the pile.  Cards and sentimental items are to go on our refrigerator for a specified period of time, after which we will digitally store them and discard the paper item.

We will see how this system serves us as we prepare for our move.  In our new location we will need to see how this system works for us and what to tweak to make it easier.

Let me know if you embark on your own paper de-cluttering challenge and share your tips and tricks and systems that work for you!

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