Far and away, when I ask readers what they need help with at home, it’s dealing with clutter. And the number one clutter problem? Paper. Your bills and memos and invoices and mailers.
It’s challenging to sort through all the stuff, and to be able to diagnose what’s worth keeping and what you can let go of. So let’s not waste any more time, and take the weekend to get a start on dealing with our paper piles…
This Weekend: Sort through your paper clutter
Whether you have just a few recently-collected piles or a backload of unsorted paper stuffed in a drawer somewhere, the process is the same. Gather everything up, and sort through it all one by one.
Depending on what’s in your stack, here are the piles you might need:
With your recycling, trash, and shred piles, you know what to do.
The “file” pile is for important documents you need to keep for your records. When you’re through with your whole stack, take the time to file it away, right away. Here’s a handy graphic (and post) that will help you know how long you need to keep things:
The “action” pile is things that need some sort of effort from you—like notes that need replies, bills that need to be paid, or magazines you’d like to read. Go ahead and move those things to wherever they need to be so you can handle them (like bills in your work bag, and magazines on the nightstand or by your reading chair).
The “other” pile is a catchall for anything you want to keep that doesn’t seem to need filing or doing. This pile is fairly unique to you, so you’ll have to decide what to do with it. If they’re references or inspiration, maybe you can designate a box or binder for them. If it’s a “just in case” item like coupons, maybe you want to stash that with your wallet or inside your car so it’s there when you need it.
Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection.