It’s October and that means it’s time to get working on a new habit! This month, we are going to focus on getting the Paper Clutter under control and out of our homes. We all have paper clutter and if we don’t spend some time getting rid of it, it will completely take over and create CHAOS! FlyLady wrote a great article about Paper Clutter for you. Check it out below.
“You will have time for pleasure when the clutter is gone.” – FlyLady
Paper clutter is easier to manage if you have a place to keep it! That’s why FlyLady developed the Office in a Bag; it’s literally a bag in which you keep all of your bills and paperwork so you don’t lose them! You can purchase your own Office in a Bag at The FlyShop; it even comes in four different colors!
Here are the habits we have covered so far this year. Remember to reinforce these habits while completing your new one:
- January – Shining Your Sink
- February – Decluttering for 15 minutes a day
- March – Getting dressed to shoes
- April – Making the bed
- May – Moving
- June – Drinking water
- July – Swish and swipe
- August – Laundry
- September – Before-bed Routine
Don’t forget to keep up with the habits you created. View our habit archive.
Focus on Paper Clutter
Our new habit for October is focusing on our Paper Clutter. Let’s take a look at our paper clutter — one area at a time.
Piles of newspapers: Did you know that by the time you get around to reading a day old newspaper that you would have heard most of it on the radio or TV. Instead of holding on to them so you can read when you get a chance, discard every day when the next paper comes. If you go two or three days without reading, save yourself some money discontinue these newspapers. You will be rid of the clutter and the guilt from not reading what you have paid good money for. Try reading on-line or listening to the public Radio. You will be surprised at how much news you pick up without even having to concentrate. I never read a newspaper, except to see if I have been quoted correctly. Robert tells me to check and see what Cilley Says. Now for those coupons that come in the newspapers. If you haven’t used them then why buy the paper. For SHEs Coupons are a challenge. But once you get organized, you will use your Wednesday desk day to clip and save, while you make out your grocery list. For now, set the aside or give them to someone you know that will use them. The guilt you feel when you see these unused coupons or go to the grocery without them is not worth a dime. I want you happy not guilt ridden.
Baskets of unread Magazines: This is a biggy for every SHE I know and love. We hate to part with our beloved magazines. We might actually need something we have seen or we might miss a good article. Bolognie! If we have seen something in a magazine, just go and try to find it again. You can see it in your minds eye, but there is no way you are ever going to find the magazine you saw it in. Without a Readers Guide, you are hopelessly lost. So why waste hours seaching for a picture, when you can go online and find your answer if you really need. it. If you receive magazines in the mail and you never open and read, then rethink this money you are spending each year on the subscription. If you have a basket of magazines that you hate to part with, it is easier if you do it on a weekly basis. This is why I purge magazines each week. I put them in my car and as I go about my week, I drop them off in different places that I go to. Meetings, Doctor’s offices, car services centers, court houses, offices. Just think about having to wait in a waiting room with 5 year old magazines. How about getting your car worked on and there are only men’s magazines. This is why I take the opportunity to get them out of my home and put them where they will be appreciated. Also If I have not read them, I take the time to do this before I leave them in the waiting rooms. One other thing I do, I have an exacto knife by my chair and a notebook with lots of sheet protectors. If I see an article that I want to keep or a picture for my want book, then I cut it out right then and there. It is my magazine. No one will miss it if I give it away. I have my book of my “likes and keeps” without having to spend hours searching for a certain magazine. Now that our kitchen is almost finished, I can throw away my kitchen want book. LOL I have completed that dream. No need to hold on to it any more. I have a garden book too.
Junk mail: Throw it away as soon as it comes in the house. It does not even deserve the right to enter your home. Throw it away, shred them or burn them. Be careful with those credit card applications we get daily in the mail. Tear out the name and numbers. I throw them in my fireplace.
Boxes of old school papers(from college or kids papers): Do you still have a box full of papers from High school or college? Get rid of this stuff. It was another life. You are not going to need this stuff, the books or the papers with those grades. We had rather not remember. Now for your childrens papers. These are hard to part with, but let your children decide. If your children are grown, Give them back to them. Or save only a special one from each year for their scrapbook. Not every paper is a keepsake, believe it or not. If you save everything, that deminishes the value of those special ones. They get lost in the clutter.
Recipes: We SHEs are addicted to cookbooks and recipes. But how often do we use them. We dream of being this wonderful cook, but the truth is we cook the same ole things all the time. What happens when you want to find a recipe you saw in some magazine or some cookbook in your library or drawer of recipes. You can’t find it! I have reduced the number of cookbooks that I have. Only the ones I love have I kept. Also my Sweet Darling is a wonderful cookie baker. He has his very own cookbooks. I had to be very careful when decluttered our cookbooks. I accidently took his favorite cookie cookbook with adjustments for years of testing to the truck to be given away. I was lucky, he missed it and I had not taken them to the Humane Society Thrift Shop.LOL So as you clear this clutter, make sure they are yours to give away.
Paperback books: If you have read them, pass them on to someone else. Give them to the library.
Piles of unopened mail: If you have not opened it in three months, then it is probably trash any way. Open the newest mail first and toss the old bills. Sometimes you can just look at the date and toss. Sort it over a trash can.
Tax papers: Do you have tax papers from 20 years ago? If so there is no need to keep these things. Our tax papers fit in one manilla envelope. Our copies of the tax returnes and receipts, and directions for the schedules are all in this envelope. This takes no room at all. We also have a file for receipts that effect the cost basis of our home. This is all that we keep. We do have 20 years worth, but they only take up 5 inches in a file drawer. Each envelope is labeled. We don’t keep every cancelled check, beside now days it costs money to get your cancelled checks. We keep our check registers. Our Check registers tell our history if needed. IRS says keep tax records that back up your taxes for 7 years and if you cheat on your taxes they can go back forever.
Medical records: Children’s shot records are needed until they start college and sometime up until the girls become wives and mothers, to prove that they have had the Rubella shot. Health dept. have been know to purge records without contacting you. This happened to me and I had to have another shot. Not fun. I don’t like them.
Paid bills receipts: We only keep insurance receipts and tax deductible cancelled checks. All the others I have a check to prove that I have paid them. All of the other receipts go in the trash and get burned in the fireplace.
Old phone books: Get rid of these. I keep one old one in my car for when I need a phone number or address.
Catalogs: We all have these. We love to look at them. They keep coming every day. Get rid of them. If you want to order something then do it and toss the catalog. There are many online catalogs. Don’t hold on to these.
Bank statements: We balance them and toss them. Keeping only the checks we need for tax purposes and our house cost basis. The rest are burned. Don’t email me complaining about this. It works for us.
File Cabinets full of who knows what: We need to go through these files, and toss. There is hardly anything that we really need to file. I have two crates that I started 4 years ago when I became a county commissioner. I have not looked in these files for a year and a half. This tells me, that I didn’t need to waste my time filing this stuff. So now I read my memos and file in the trash can. The Trash can is my favorite filing cabinet. If I need something, I have a clerk that keeps a copy of every memo. All I have to do is pick up the phone and ask her to look up something for me. I no longer fill up my home with tons of papers that I will ever look at again.
Family pictures: This is a problem we all have. Some people have drawers full of pictures that are unlabeled. We have all seen old pictures in our mother’s homes that we could not identify. This is so sad. My Mom did one thing that was very nice. She had a scrapbook for each of our family members. With our history in it. Newspaper pictures, snapshots, school picture and report cards. Don’t start doing this until all your clutter is under control. You will get sidetracked. You will have time for pleasure when the clutter is gone. I promise.
Birth Certificates/Marriage Cerificate/Passports/Death Certificates/Divorce papers/adoption papers: These all need to be protected in a fire proof safe or a bank lock box. Make copies to keep at home, so you will have them when you need them, but keep the orginals in a safe place. A place to keep them at home: In a notebook with sheet protector or in a file labeled Important Family Records. Also savings bonds need to be keep in a lock box too.
Purses full of STUFF: Each week clean out your purse. Most of what is in there is trash. You might even find some money. I clean out my purse on Fridays.
Maps: You have old maps in your car that are from the 80’s. Did you know that they are just about ready to fall apart. Get rid of them. Buy you a new one for your state. Or go to your local county commissioners office and get a copy of your states latest DOT map.
Travel Brochures: We have all these places we want to go, but the brochures are 10 years old. Get rid of them the prices are out dated as well as the phone numbers. Make a list of the place you would like to see and look them up on the internet.
Organizational Books: This is one of your first homework assignments. Put your Organizational books away. There is no way you can follow several programs at one time. Pick one and stick to it. If you choose my messages then put the other things away, even the 3×5 card files that Pam and Peggy developed in the 70’s. Even their messages have evolved into routines, zones, and a basic weekly plan. They endorse my way of teaching their system. We are so blessed to have them as mentors. A hound dog can not catch 8 rabbits at one time, she has to pick one and stay focused.
Computer printouts from FlyLady email and other websites: Don’t print; file it in the computer. Delete all my emails, the basic messages are on the website. Besides I recycle them all the time.
3×5 cards: If you have old card files, throw them away. They seem to lay a big guilt trip on us for setting them up and not doing them. Purge these from your home. Set up your routines with them and toss them. This is what I did. Sorted and put them in doing order. Then they were history.
Other office supplies we are addicted to: File folders, dividers. We all have lots of this stuff. I have one drawer for my office supplies. This takes up part of one of my empty drawers in my filing cabinet.
You all have been asking for Paperwork clutter problem solutions. I hope I have touched on this subject. Keep in mind that these problems are not going to get fixed over night, but you can stop them from piling up, by dealing with your mail as soon as it comes into your home, throwing away the trash and only keeping what you will need. Toss the rest.
Watch your back for Paper Clutter. He attacks all the time.