It is a fact that the number one violator of clutter, is paper. It is coming into our homes at a faster rate than we can sort it! The good news is that we have options now 🙂
We can choose to go paperless with our finances, bank statements, and bill-paying. We can opt out of the magazines that we know we are never going to read, catalogs and product solicitations, etc. Visit www.catalogchoice.org and www.optoutprescreen.com. Simply remove your name from pre-approved credit card lists and type in unsubscribe in the search bar.
But then there’s the other kind of clutter; the virtual culprits. By far, the best and newest e-mail manager is unroll.me. Bye bye and so long to the countless unwanted e-mail subscriptions we receive that mercilessly clutter our inboxes daily. With this program, you can toss the junk mail with just one click. Once you unsubscribe, you can create your own “rollup” or digest of preferred and favorites, and schedule them to arrive any day you choose, all in one email. How great is that?
As for the other incoming mail, try to create a nice consistent landing-place, so that the papers requiring your attention will be easily found. Having a mail sorter (simple but effective) is ideal to “catch” and separate different categories of paper coming into the home. Weed through often and isolate the junk mail. Toss it, recycle it, or shred it…just get it out of the house. There is certainly enough paper that we must keep, we surely don’t need to hold on to paper we will never want or need. You may even want to do the junk mail sort at the mailbox and toss it before it even enters your home.
As for the mountains of other kinds of miscellaneous paper, you need to be honest with yourself. If there is literature that you haven’t referred to in a considerable amount of time, you need to let it go. If you are holding onto sentimental paper (like old greeting cards, invitations to old events, children’s art, etc.) evaluate carefully, select and store just a special few.
There are papers, however, that never should get tossed and should be kept indefinitely; vital records, tax returns, legal documents, etc. There are other records suggested to be kept for at least 7 years, like bank records, deductible receipts, credit records, any tax-related documents, etc. Since the IRS may go back 7 years to audit your tax returns, you should have those papers in order and organized. There are papers that can be tossed after 1 year, and those that can be tossed just after your payment is verified on the next bill.
What to keep and what to toss is a personal decision, but if you are overwhelmed with paper, it is time to manage it. Ask yourself how vital the information really is, and consider if it can be retrievable somewhere else, you can feel confident to toss it. But if you’re in doubt, enlist advice from your accountant or financial advisor. No need to go it alone, and no need to drown in paper. Having just a few organizational systems in place can be the ultimate rescue that will keep you afloat.