Paper Management – Part 1: Reduce the Influx

The influx of paper into our homes on a daily basis can be overwhelming. We get more mail in a single day than our grandparents got in an entire year! If you hold on to even half of it, you have the makings of a serious paper crisis on your hands.

And paper comes to us in even more ways than through the mail. There are the papers you bring home from the doctor’s office, from your church, from meetings, or school. There are ads you pick up and receipts you bring home. There are magazines and promotion material and business cards. If you live anywhere long enough, these items can really pile up.

How can we control this avalanche of paper?

  1. Mail – reduce your junk mail     
  • – started in 1917, the Direct Marketing Association has made it possible to opt-out of mailing lists through its Mail Preference Service
  • – a free service that sends merchants your catalog opt-out request on your behalf
  • – to keep your name off prescreened lists which will cut down on credit card offers
  • – will help you evaluate charities and when combined with Direct Marketing Association can help you opt out of getting some of the donation solicitations 

We enjoy some of the mail that comes in like letters and cards and perhaps some of those catalogs. But enjoy them and then let them move on. Of course, some cards and letters you may wish to keep, so place them in your memorabilia box but don’t keep them all. I have seen clients with trunks and dressers filled with old cards, many of them with no special notes but just a signature.

Some bills will come in and those you must deal with but consider paying on line and after paying a bill, decide if you really need to keep the bill.

   2. Items you pick up and bring home – do you really need it and what do you plan to do with it?

  • Recipes – I strongly suggest that if you bring a recipe home, you try it out within a week to see if it is worth filing away
  • Coupons – know yourself – are these coupons you will really use and how do you plan to keep up with them? – each time you look through your coupons, discard any that have expired
  • Special interest material – if you are collecting information on interests like health, home decorating, landscaping, or vacations – plan a special place to store them and at least once a year look through what you have saved and purge the ones you no longer need
  • Receipts – know why you have kept them – if it is something you plan to return, keep it with the item – is it for something you will get reimbursed for? A charge you want to keep until you reconcile your charge statement? A business expense? A large purchase for your home? Have a plan for storing those you feel you need to keep and let the rest go.
  • Business cards – let go immediately the ones you no longer want – pull information from others by scanning or entering the information into your phone
  • Magazines – read them within the month and let them go – if you can’t find time to read them, stop getting them
  • Computer print outs – read them and then decide what action needs to happen – then either do the action or let the print out go
Bottom line – a lot of the paper clutter we have lying around is there because we have not taken the time to decide on what to do with it. It is a deferred decision. Don’t let any of this junk paper linger. It will make it so much easier to find the papers that are really important if the unimportant is gone.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Impulse Spending Leads to Clutter

You need a pair of shorts. Off you go to your favorite store. You find the shorts and a top that will look great with them. If you buy three tops you will get a better price. The necklace laid out with one of the tops would just finish the outfit. On the way out, you see a pair of sandals you like. They fit perfectly and look nice too. Man, if the shoe fits you’d better stock up. You buy the sandals in five colors.

When you get home and try to squeeze your purchases into your drawers and closet, you notice you have quite a few tops in the drawer with tags still on them.

You want a new shade of lipstick. Your favorite brand is having a sale. If you spend an additional $10, you get this lovely cosmetic bag filled with free samples. So you buy two lipsticks and get the “free” bag. Lovely! This is not such a terrible thing, until you put your bag in your bathroom closet and notice you have about 10 other bags in there – mostly full- of previous “free” gifts.

You go to the grocery store. You have a coupon that will give you $2.00 off if you buy 10 cans of soup. You also buy one bag of salad and get the next one free and there is a package of 25 rolls of toilet paper that looks like such a bargain.

Are we getting the idea? Don’t buy what you don’t need or love. Free is not always a bargain. Buying something you don’t need at a reduced price is not a bargain. Foods that you stockpile will crowd your space and may expire or spoil before they are used. This is not a bargain.

Having space to put your purchases away without overcrowding allows you to keep an inventory of what you have. It also prevents waste and buying items because you have lost track of what you already have.

Don’t buy items unless you know how you’re going to use them and where you are going to store them.. Impulse spending leads to disorganization and clutter, not to mention a strain on your budget.

Think before buying that next great deal!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer