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How to Keep Piles of Paper Under Control

How to Keep Piles of Paper Under Control

Paper bills, magazines and books consuming too much space in your home? You're not alone. Get control over paper piles using these 6 professional strategies.
Michele Sponagle
2012-05-02 10:00
2012-04-20 12:10

Organizing your paper pile

Even in the electronic age, we are still swimming in paper. "Every day, we're deluged by paper of every size," say Susan Borax and Heather Knittel from Good Riddance Professional Organizing Solutions in Vancouver.

The key to organizing clutter starts with a change in thinking. "Deal with stuff, like mail, as it comes in. Toss flyers, brochures and the envelopes right at the beginning. Don't wait until they become a pile." The payoff? "Clutter and wellness are related," they say. You'll feel better and more in control when the mess of life is contained. Here's how to get there:

1. Go electronic all the way
Cut clutter by switching to e-bills instead of paper. Edit your magazine subscriptions, deciding which you'd like to keep and which can be switched to iPad versions. Buy an e-reader for books. Opt to receive financial statements and prospectuses from your investments direct to your email box.

2. Get the seven-year itch
For most people, keeping seven years worth of income tax returns is enough. After that, shred and recycle.

3. Catch the urge to purge
Once a year, do a major cull. "Everything has an expiration date," say Borax and Knittel. Say goodbye to warrantees that have expired, manuals for items you no longer own, travel brochures that have become outdated, paid bills, old school text books, employment records and files from prior jobs, large boxes and packaging that once housed computer or appliances.

4. Record breaking statements
Once you get your credit card bill, throw out the receipts for items listed on it, unless it's for a major purchase.

5. File in style
Make a folder for each utility, credit card, recipe clippings, etc. -- categories that make sense for you.

6. Banish guilt
We hang on to things out of fear. We might need it some day. Chances are you can find that recipe or address online. Or we feel bad because we spent money on books and magazines and don't want to toss something of value. Donate them to a library or hospital to ease the angst. Keep birthday and thank you cards for a week before sending them to the blue bin.