Ephemera. That's the fancy, technical term for everything that works its way into our daily lives. Newspapers, catalogs, flyers, school newsletters, and takeout menus all work their way into our homes, and we need a method for dealing with them, or we will be overwhelmed. Haven't you seen Hoarders? Paper is the biggest culprit. Recent scientific studies suggest a cluttered, messy workspace can negatively impact productivity and mental health. So, you've got to tame that Paper Monster, or he'll get you!
YOU'LL NEED THE FOLLOWING:
- 2 Trays: one for the mail, one for paper purgatory. There are plenty of great options at different price points!
- Wastepaper basket
- Shredder (optional) or shredding scissors
- Letter Opener or paper knife (also optional). I know it seems a bit old-fashioned, but as long as there is still paper mail, you need one, unless you like paper cuts.
- 12 to 24 matching 3-ring binders (if you must!)
TIME: Anywhere from 30 minutes to all day, depending on how disciplined you are about staying on task (and not reading every single document you have!)
HOW TO DO IT:
1. First, establish a tray for the mail on your desk (or wherever you do your mail). Then, promise yourself that it won't let it overflow.
2. Next, you need a round file. What is a round file, you ask? It's a wastepaper basket. I stand at my desk and do the mail daily; whatever isn't essential goes straight into the round file. That was my father's little joke. "I filed it in the round file, Honey." Nothing goes into it except paper. Not the rest of the burrito you had for lunch, Nothing. But. PAPER. And that gets emptied into recycling.
3. MAKE A SCAN, STAN! One of my favourite apps is called Tiny Scanner. I use it almost daily. You snap a photo of your important documents, and it instantly highlights a high-res digital version for you to store in the cloud! I do this constantly because Mr Handsome is a paper lover, and I *may* have thrown out our original marriage certificate during one of my Feng shui purges. This app makes us both feel more comfortable.
4. PAPER PURGATORY: The second tray is for those pieces of paper that are too important to throw away but not important enough to deal with immediately. Stick it in there, and deal with it on Friday!
5. BINDERS: For those documents, you do need to keep, I get matching 3-ring binders from any office supply store. I tolerate them because I get cute matching spine holders printed on cardstock with our initials and a place for writing what's inside each one (the boys' immunization records, car documents, tax stuff, etc.). Of course, we have about fifty of these, but I'm working on whittling them down to twelve. It's still an awful lot of paper, but at least they're all uniform. Handsome gets to keep his papers, and the binders are lined up in a cupboard closet, so I don't have to see them. It's our paper détente!
6. Two words: PAPERLESS BILLING. I dedicate time regularly to ensure I've selected a paperless billing option for all our bills. It can take a while, so don't try and do them all in one go. Grab your energy bill, make a sandwich, and get stuck into it. It'll be worth it, I promise!
This is a reasonably big activity, so I'd save this one for the weekend if I were you! Once you get a system for managing the paper and all of the temporary stuff that floats into your home, everything else will be much easier to manage.
Well done, keep going!