Managing Mountains of Paper

Managing Mountains of Paper

Catalogs, bills, credit card offers, bank statements, children’s artwork, old newspapers – the amount of paper that can accumulate stacks up quickly. What’s the best way to minimize your paper clutter?

  1. Sort mail each day – Keep a recycling bin, shredder and an “action” folder in one area, perhaps your home office or den. Go through your mail in this area each day, sorting through what you need to file, pay, shred or recycle.

  2. If you shred – With identity theft on the rise, it’s important to protect your identity. Shred anything that contains information other than your name and address – birthdates, social security number, bank account, voided checks, employment documents and legal documents. Keep in mind, if anything pertains to your income tax returns then it should be filed for seven years.

  3. Go “paperless” – These days, most companies offer paperless options. You can choose to receive electronic bills and statements for bank accounts, mortgage statements, credit card accounts, even your utility bills. You can save them to your computer for future reference if you need them, or print out only the pages you might need to keep a filed hard copy.

  4. Put your scanner to work – If a company doesn’t offer paperless billing, you can opt to scan the documents rather than file them. Save them as a small-sized PDF file and store on your computer, or back up onto an external hard drive.

  5. Cut down on catalogs – More and more consumers do their shopping online. Why clutter your mailbox (and countertops) with catalogs?  Make a stack of catalogs you no longer want to receive and once a month sit down and contact them to take you off their mailing list.  Or use the free service offered by catalogchoice.org to opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more.  Every three to six months toss old magazines and catalogs that are out of date.

  6. School papers and artwork – It’s so difficult to throw away your child’s latest masterpiece from art class. Why not designate one frame per child and display their new favorites as they bring them home?  You can rotate what is displayed, letting them choose which gets the spotlight and which gets retired.

  7. Once a year renew subscriptions to magazines you read regularly. Cancel subscriptions to publications you no longer read. Cancel catalogs from stores you haven’t ordered from in more than a year.