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6 Habits To Keep Your Paper Clutter Under Control

Do you struggle with paper clutter in your home?

If you struggle with paper clutter and getting your paperwork organised, you’ll love to hear about habits you can focus on to keep your paperwork under control. Maintenance is a huge part of ensuring that papers don’t overwhelm your space, whether that’s physical space in your home, or mental space causing anxiety and running to do lists in your head.

I’ve talked about habits that create clutter in my previous post, and now I’ll talk about habits that will help you to keep your paperwork under control.

Why would you want to have good habits with paperwork?

It deals with the anxiety that comes with clutter. We now know that clutter in the home contributes to anxiety, especially for women. Your mental health is worth it.

It stops you second-guessing what you need to do, because you have homes for everything, and don’t need to search for urgent or important papers, which saves time.

It becomes very quick and second-nature to deal with as much as you can on the spot, so you save your energy and mental space instead of procrastinating and having to revisit what you’ve already looked at before and then forgotten.

You’re in charge of your own behaviour. You don’t need to wait on anyone else, or spend money to do that. This means you can start today. Make your life easier.

"What the world really needs is more love, and less paperwork." - Pearl Bailey

Do you have arguments with your partner or people in your household about whether they have moved or done something with a paper you need? Would you rather not have that in your day? It’s more peaceful when everyone knows where things belong.

What are the good habits?

  1. Sort straight away. You’ll find most things can either go in the recycling or need shredding, which means you don’t need to keep them around, yay! It’s the touch-it-once approach.
  2. Be transparent about the actions you need to take with what you’re keeping. That means being clear about labelling what you’re using. The common ones are to read, to pay, to follow up, and you might have the odd one to file. Because it's such a quick job, it's helpful to file straight away.
  3. Have a trigger for removing paper for decluttering. It could be when the folder or container is full, or the classic rule of one-in, one-out, or there could be a time in your week that makes sense to take 5 minutes to clear it.
  4. Starting a new project? Set up a place for the paper. After you’ve done a few projects, you’ll see patterns in the usual papers that arise. That’s a topic for a future blog post. The main thing is to have a home for the papers.
  5. Pay attention to what’s important. You’ve decided something is important enough to start, so what’s stopping you from finishing? What was driving you to make a start on it? Do you need to be the one working on it? Who do you need to talk to to get you to the next step? Do you need help? Is there something else that is nearly finished you could get done? It helps to write down your priorities so you can give yourself a reality check when issues arise.
  6. Stop it coming in. This one is key! Realise when what you’re receiving is no longer valuable or relevant. Unsubscribe, cancel, say no, be intentional about your shopping. If something is still relevant to you, but you can’t keep up with the regularity that they are sending you information, set up bookmarks on your internet browser or add it to a news service online such as Feedly, which is free, so you can check it at your leisure. You get to decide how much time you invest in what you read, and this way, you’re not adding to paper clutter that makes you feel guilty or burdened every time you see it.

That's 6 habits that will serve you

Do you want to get rid of your paper clutter? These habits will definitely help you. Like Rachel Hunter said in the old Pantene ad, “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”. Focus on making progress rather than having a paper decluttering marathon. You may find it frustrating to start with if you feel like what you've done hasn't made a difference, but always remember where you started from, and celebrate that you have taken action. Things pop up in life on occasion that take priority over your usual routines, just get back into it as soon as you can. 

If you find your paper backlog is overwhelming, contact me at leah.fry@makelifeeasierorganising.com and we can talk about your situation to work out what you need.

All the best,

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