Are you interested in learning how to declutter? You are on the right track! Paperwork doesn’t occupy a lot of space by itself, but as you accumulate more of it, it can start to feel overwhelming.
Do you find searching for files and stacks of paper to be annoying and time-consuming? Do you frequently spend a great deal of time fruitlessly sifting through heaps of useless paperwork and outdated files? If so, it may be time for you to declutter your paperwork and clear out your office space.
Here are some tips on how to remove paperwork clutter from your house. This will help get rid of the stress of covering your kitchen table, filing cabinets, desks, and whatever else has become paper clutter zones.
Why it’s important to declutter paperwork
Decluttering has a multitude of undeniable benefits. In particular, these benefits are true for decluttering paperwork, too. The primary advantage is that your overall physical and mental health will improve, which will benefit your family as well.
Decluttering papers is good for your mental health
Not only does decluttering clear your mind, reduce stress, and improve your focus, but it also provides you with free time.
How many instances have you wasted endless amounts of time searching for the one bill you were supposed to pay? Or your kid’s field trip permission slip? Or that wedding invitation you need to RSVP to?
Once you create a system for keeping a clean living space, you will no longer have to stress about those time-consuming searches for misplaced items. Your mind will be free and clear, allowing you to focus on things that are truly important.
Decluttering papers helps your loved ones and puts your mind at ease
While nobody likes to think about it, there may come a time when your family members will need to access your records on your behalf. People who are incapacitated or have passed away still have to pay taxes and important documents in their names.
By shredding and discarding files that are not needed, such as your financial records, you will make it far easier for other people to assist you.
By equipping yourself with the proper insurance, you can prepare for the worst and put your affairs in order. Decluttering your paperwork can give you peace of mind.
It will help you relax and take care of important paperwork in the event of an emergency.
When you’re decluttering papers, what should you keep?
Before starting disposing, it’s important to have an understanding of what paperwork to keep, what to destroy, and what to recycle.
What to toss vs. shred
You can safely discard anything that doesn’t contain personal information. Items such as junk mail, catalogs, old receipts, printed product manuals, and expired coupons can be tossed into a recycling bin. You should destroy any documents that others have left lying around.
What to shred vs. keep
You’ve decided something is sensitive enough that it can’t be thrown away.
When it comes to deciding what to keep, one of the most important categories of documents are your financial records. Some documents, such as a record of your mortgage repaid, should be kept forever.
Other things, like tax returns, should be saved for at least seven years. The idea is that you should save your records if the contract or subject is active. Otherwise, use your best guess when deciding whether to shred it or save it.
How to declutter paperwork – 6 steps to take
It’s time to begin learning how to declutter paperwork. We’re not talking about decluttering a paper here and there; we’re referring to removing a great deal of paper!
1. Prepare to declutter paperwork before you begin
It might be tempting to claim that you are tired of your paper mess once and for all and immediately begin throwing paper.
Clearing the surface of paper records this way does not really improve the situation. Instead, you should organize your materials ahead of time in order to streamline the evacuation process.
We recommend obtaining a paper shredder for sensitive documents and three bins (or cardboard boxes) to separate your papers into.
If you don’t want to purchase a paper shredder, consider where you can dispose of your sensitive documents, like a FedEx or local store that will shred them for you.
You can sort through your documents more efficiently if you sort them all at once. Spend an entire day sorting so you don’t get sidetracked.
2. Get in the right mindset
It’s common to overlook the importance of a positive attitude when it comes to organizing records. You might think of files as just outdated bills, but there’s so much more to them than that. Papers can also be sentimental, and some of them will be difficult to let go of.
This is because one must first be in the right frame of mind before beginning. Be prepared to throw away objects and let go of past attachments.
This is an excellent way to get started is to be clear on your goal. Perhaps it is to have a calm office or more control and understanding over your finances.
Whatever it may be for you, understand your own reasons for decluttering and remind yourself of those goals while going through the process. It makes it much easier to stay motivated and let go of what you no longer need if you have those goals in mind.
Be sure to shred all your documents as thoroughly as possible. As the Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo writes, the goal of decluttering paperwork is to get rid of almost all of it.
While you will cull most of your documents when cleaning, you must maintain the typical expectation that you will get rid of most of them.
It is essential to go into the endeavor with the expectation that you will cull everything.
3. Gather all of your papers in one place
Now you can sort some documents! First, collect every paper you have. So gather bills, receipts, cards, letters, artwork, loose papers, post-it notes, and any other items lying around.
Dispose of your trash drawer and desk drawers, as well as any scraps of paper you ever have hidden around your house. You may be surprised at how much paper is in your drawers and cabinets.
Once you’ve put everything together, spread out the paperwork on a large surface like a table or the floor if that is the best location for you.
4. Sort your papers
Next up, it’s time to sort. To properly declutter paper, stow your three boxes or bags and label them recycle, shred, and store.
Waste, such as expired coupons, receipts you receive electronically, and letters you’ve read and are ready to discard, goes into the recycling bin.
Sensitive personal data, such as your name, address, Social Security number, or account numbers, goes into the scrap pile. Shredding everything at the end or delivering it to a shredding service is up to you.
Whatever you’re able to save gets placed in the trash can. If you’re doing it right, you won’t have much to store! And after you do the next step of going digital, you will have significantly fewer.
5. Declutter paperwork by going digital and paperless where possible
Once you have sorted your paperwork and identified what to keep, decide what you need an original of and what to digitize. Anything you want to keep but do not need the original of, you can scan and throw out.
If you don’t have access to a scanner, go to a local copy shop or FedEx office and you can scan everything there. Once the documents are scanned, be sure to label them correctly and store them in a secure location.
It is possible to significantly reduce the amount of paper that comes into your area by signing up for electronic bills and paying them online.
This will decrease the amount of paper that comes into your house and the amount that you need to digitize.
6. Choose and implement a storage strategy
Finally, select a storage solution for the papers you wish to store. How you accomplish this depends on your documents’ types.
For example, certain individuals have lengthy medical records and need to keep their records on hand to take to and from their medical appointments. For this purpose, it would be helpful to create a medical binder to keep track of everything.
Many people have important financial documents that they want to keep. These people should look into a filing cabinet with labeled folders for all of their important documents, including things like wills, tax returns, and marriage or birth certificates.
Whatever works for you, do it in the end. Remember it, or your recently decluttered paperwork might become a mess again in no time!
Overcoming potential roadblocks on your journey to decluttering paper
So, you’ve read the step-by-step instructions for decluttering paperwork and you’re ready to do the task. If you’ve decluttered before and failed, it may have been because you hit a roadblock.
The most common problems people run into when decluttering are their difficulty deciding whether to throw away or keep an item and their trouble disposing of sentimental objects.
The best way to move forward when you’re stuck is to ask yourself the following questions:
1. Will I need this information again?
Keep the paper on your desk only if your answer is a firm yes. If it’s a maybe and you still want to keep it, scan it and then discard it.
2. Will I be able to get this information again if I get rid of it now?
If you know the data again, you can obtain it either by talking to someone, accessing your records online or by other means. It might be unnecessary in the future, but if it’s needed, you know you can get it.
3. Is this information still valuable to me?
This question helps when dealing with things like manuals or guides. Do you really need to keep old training materials from an old project? Probably not.
4. Do I have other similar things?
This is the most important query to ask when sorting through sentimental keepsakes. Instead of saving every drawing your child made in third grade, select your favorite and discard the others.
You’ve learned how to declutter paperwork. Now what?
Once your documents have been decluttered, what is next? If you do not keep the proper tools in place to safely and securely store your decluttered paperwork, you might once again find yourself managing a disorganized pile of papers.
1. Choose a space for incoming paper
In the majority of residences, junk mail is the paper waste problem. Magazines, catalogs, bills, and everything else can pile up in a single day. The most suitable way to discharge the items is to pick a landing site for their reception and shipment.
If you only limit this paper to a single area, you’ll be more able to see when it starts to get cluttered and more likely to clear it out before it gets out of hand.
2. Take care of paperwork immediately where possible
Don’t allow paper statements to accumulate. Rather, throw them in a drawer, forget about the bills, and deal with them later.
right then and there, decide if you want to display it on the fridge, scan it, or throw it away (perhaps after they go to bed.)
When you submit your documents as soon as they are received, they are less likely to be lost and cause problems.
Now you know how to declutter paperwork. It’s your turn to get to work!
A majority of the decluttering can be done in one day. Once you have completed these actions, you will have a more orderly space and clear mind.
You’ll probably never need to live a paper-free life again! But, if you do, know that you can take another day, clean up the mess, and start over again fresh.
As you become better at organizing paperwork, take the opportunity to learn more about how you can better organize your personal finances and home. We have a wealth of helpful content to help you with your finances and your life in general.