After 10 years of marriage, 6 kids, a house, 2 cars, a home business and lots of medical records, we only have 2 drawers of paperwork. 4 years ago we had about 12 bank boxes and 4 drawers loaded to the max with papers. We were living with a literal paper monster. So, what has changed?
Virtually everything is ONLINE!
Some of the ways we were able to defeat our paper monster are the following...
1. Online Banking and bill payments, and online accounts with our utilities. Keep those monthly paper statements from arriving at home!
2. Online news and magazines
3. Smart phones where we keep our calendars, schedules and phone contacts
4. Online instructions and manuals for everything!
5. Digital photography and social media, keeping boxes of photos at bay
6. Pinterest and Google, where we find recipes, articles and how-to's for everything!
7. Sign up on the National Do Not Mail list. http://www.directmail.com/mail_preference/
As less paper came into the home, and even more shredded over the years, we eventually won the battle with our paper monster . Last year, we invested in colored hanging files and folders and used our label maker to really make it easy to find anything we had left. Green became finance, yellow-career, red- medical, blue- home maintenance and purple- education. We bought a shredder, caught up on filing, and now we are in maintenance mode. Don't get me wrong, this took hours, and it was a massive project; however, now paperwork is a piece of cake.
Here is how we maintain sanity:
We gather our mail in a drawer and go through it once a week by sorting it into the following piles: Recycling
Things to browse
Each one of those categories has a place, and we deal with them respectively. Bills are paid right after the mail is sorted, and the filing gets done immediately. Magazines or articles go into their basket, and coupons into their drawer. I regularly purge these areas as they add up, expire, or are no longer wanted.
How to start the battle
Once we got caught up, the maintenance wasn't so bad. If you have a paper monster as we once did, then start defeating it one battle at a time.
Recycle or shred everything that can obviously go, like:
Manuals for things you no longer own
Most paper statements
Taxes from over 7 years back
All those articles you thought you would look through but never have
Old magazines and newspapers
Then, sign up for everything online so that the papers stop coming to your door. Remember to use strong passwords, and change them often!
I don't know ANYONE who loves paperwork and bills, but eliminating the chaos makes it go more quickly, making it way more tolerable. Don't give up! Chip away at the piles, and hire help if needed. There is no shame in getting the job done twice as quickly and, ultimately, spending less time shifting and sorting through papers. It feels great and relieves stress to know where everything is so that we aren't missing a thing. We defeated the paper monster, and you can too!