Paper organization

Dear Kathi, I have piles of paper spread all throughout my house. I am basically organized with the exception of all of this paper which is driving me crazy. Where should I start and how can I keep it under control?

Marilyn, Encinitas

Marilyn,

Piles of paper are piles simply because you don’t have a place to put each piece of paper when it comes into your life. After you look at each piece of paper, it needs to be either thrown away or stored in a proper location. Do not add it to a pile for future consideration. If you don’t have time to read the papers as they come into your home, take action. Consider cancelling a few subscriptions, removing your name from mailing lists, or throwing some mail into the trashcan before you bring it into your home. There will always be items of paper that you don’t have time to read when they arrive. Create an “in basket” system. Make sure your basket is small and shallow. The smaller size will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. A real basket with a handle is exceptionally convenient for this purpose. You can carry it from room to room and read through it as you move into different parts of the house or even the backyard. Another step toward tackling your piles is to take a look at what type of papers you are collecting. Sort your existing paper into categories. While you are doing this, create a reference file folder system. When you read an item and wish to keep it for future use, file it when it is in your hands. Eliminate the papers that do not serve an immediate or important purpose. If the paper is something you need to work with in the future, create an action file. Keep your action file folders on top of your desk for easy access and a quick visual reminder. Remember file – don’t create a pile!

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

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