It’s a no brainer to have a shredder. Anything with your name, address, and/or account info (bank, cc, etc) should be shredded for your personal safety. Do what you can to eliminate junk mail, but the little you get should be shredded.
- get a cross-cut/confetti
- get one that shreds disks and cc if you need it
- expect to spend $50-$95 for basic household, if you’re shredding a lot, spend more
- don’t overload it; if it says 5 sheets at a time, do 4 sheets
- many models can only do 5-10 minutes of shredding at a time
Step #3. Sort Into Current, Reference, Archive
Here are some examples of what falls into each category and a few more reasons to keep/toss…
1. CURRENT – papers accessed often
- MONTHLY HOUSEHOLD BILLS: unless you’re writing things off, only keep the past month or get online/paperless bills (go to their website to register for this) so you can check your previous payment has been applied properly and there are no other mistakes.
- RECEIPTS: keep debit and credit card receipts to check against statements; recent purchases in case you want to return; for warranty purposes; anything for tax and/or insurance purposes.
- MONTHLY BANK AND CREDIT CARD STATEMENTS: check against your receipts for mistakes and/or fraudulent charges, then shred any receipts you don’t need to keep and either file away the statements (if needed for tax purposes) or shred accordingly. Get online/paperless statements especially if you don’t need to keep for tax purposes.
- INSPIRATION: home, travel, fashion…
- ARTICLES TO READ
- MANUALS: make sure you only keeping manuals for things you actually have.
- LEGAL: passports, social security card, titles, ect
- PAST YEARS TAXES: some use the previous year’s taxes but the rest can be boxed and put away.
- LEGAL: anything that’s settled and most likely not needed to be accessed.
Step #4. Create Filing System
- SCANNERS/ELECTRONIC STORAGE: use a receipt scanner, or an all-in-one copy/printer/scanner to scan receipts and misc bills. Go paperless where you can, but organize your computer files as you would actual paper, using clearly labeled folders in the same area for easy retrieval.
- FILING CABINET: if you absolutely need one, keep it accessible, even if it’s in a closet. Use for current and reference papers, not archival papers.
Step #4. Create Filing System (continued)
- ENTRY: You should have a proper entry no matter the size of your space. I’ve created one in my current 325 sqft studio with a simple bowl on a table to keep my wallet, keys, store credits, coupons, and invitations; basically anything you need to grab as you run out the door. You could do something similar in your bedroom with a bowl or tray on a dresser or a shelf in the closet.
- ELECTRONIC/PAPER ORGANIZER: As for invites and appt reminders, use your planner, whether electronic (blackberry, iphone) or a paper planner (like me), and toss/recycle any paper backup. Take a moment at the beginning of the week to review what’s coming up, and then in the morning each day. If it seems you are missing appts and need constant reminding, you should rethink what kind of planner you are using and/or how your’re using it.
- BULLETIN/MAGNETIC BOARD: If you don’t like the idea of having a bulletin or magnetic board out, put one on the inside door of your clothes or coat closet, or the inside of a kitchen cabinet. A great place to keep these misc papers, extra keys, and inspirational quotes. Just make sure you clear things off regularly so it doesn’t get too cluttered.
Step #5. MAINTENANCE
- Take time to create a system that works best for you. If it isn’t working go back and try to figure out why. Like cooking, if something doesn’t come out right the first time you don’t just abandon the recipe, you try again to see where you went wrong until you get it right.
- Make sure the box, bin or whatever you use to hold things to be filed, isn’t too big allowing you to wait so long to actually clean it out, making it take so long and therefore a hassle.
- Do it more often so it takes less time. For instance I vacuum my apt about every other day which takes about 3 minutes. When I wait a week, it takes closer to 20 minutes which is kind of annoying… The moral of the story is do these little things that you have to do more often and it won’t be so bad. Or get an assistant to do it!
I always laugh when I see articles and blog posts about dealing with your mail; buying special mail sorters, have a recycling bin near the door… bla bla bla…The real solution as with most things in life is to simplify. The less mail you have, the less time you have to spend dealing with it.
Collect your junk mail for about a week to see where your mail is coming from so you can stop it for good:
- Stop pre-approved credit card offers at OptOutPreScreen.com. BUT this doesn’t stop offers from banks you have accounts with, you need to call them directly
- For unwanted catalogs, all the info you need is usually on the back page; customer service phone number, account number (if you have one) and/or source code. After calling, you can also go to CatalogChoice.org to further stop them
- Switch to paperless billing for all your accounts; credit cards, banks, electric, gas, phone…
- Stop most other junk mail at DMAchoice.org.