Paper Clutter – How to get Control of the Mess on Your Desk

Paper seems to multiply like bunnies.  I tend to make piles fully intending to sort and deal with them, but always find myself sidetracked with other projects.  I’m also a scribbler.  I watch and listen to a lot of webinars and podcasts.  I have scrap paper that I make notes on… It’s crazy how I actually think I’m ever going to be able to reference this information again with this system!  I clean my desk off about once a week and before I know it, BAM, there are those piles of papers again.  Where does it all come from?  Common culprits include things such as:

  • Mail
  • School or work papers
  • Magazines
  • Catalogues
  • Coupons
  • Receipts

Looking around my desk I see 4 of the 6 of those categories hanging around my keyboard as we speak.  I have to ask myself, why does this paper build up?  Is there too much paper and not enough storage?  Or simply one of those “I’ll go through it later” mentalities?   I know one of the problems I have is no system for dealing with the incoming paper, especially mail.  Sometimes it’s tough to decide what should stay and what should go, but sorting and purging is a necessary part of getting control over the mess. Here’s my new plan:

  1. Put up hanging files to sort paper as it arrives at my desk (you may choose desk top bins if you have room)
  2. Put in one of 3 files – BILLS – TO DO – FILE
  3. Make time in my schedule each day to put paper in it’s place

I pay bills usually twice a month, having them all in one place will not only keep clutter off my desk, it will save time in the form of not having to hunt down a bill that needs to be paid.  Things in the To Do file follow the same rule, find time to deal with whatever it is, then you can either toss or file the related paperwork and it’s done.  The file folder can be dealt with once a month or as needed, this will be things you can’t throw away but don’t need at your immediate disposal… such as receipts.  This is also the place for things such as receipts and other tax documents to go right when they reach your desk.

A good filing system requires labels.  Putting things in a file cabinet or storage boxes with good labeling, assures you will be able to find them at the time they are needed.  Some labels that you may find useful are;

  • Tax Papers
  • Personal Property
  • Vehicle Records
  • Education Records
  • Insurance
  • Health History
  • Business
  • Receipts

The key to keeping up with the paper clutter, is developing a good habit of dealing with it every day before it hits your desk.  So often we become afraid of throwing anything away for fear we might need it later.  There are even nifty gadgets now that will scan and save documents right to your computer.  Most bills can be paid online and you can elect not to even have the paper bill sent to your home.  I’m also getting myself a notebook to write in.  This will keep all my scribbles and notes in one place to refer to later, heck if I get really ambitious I can put tabs and label sections by what types of notes I’m taking. Having a clean desk is sure good for the brain.  Let’s get control of the paper monster that resides in our office!

Outright has joined the Paperless in 2013 movement. Will you join, too?

Danni Ackerman is the founder of The Danni App where she’s all about fun and profits.  She is also the author of The Ultimate Guide to Savings by Store,  Storage Lockers for Fun and Profit and organizer of the Las Vegas Online Sellers Meetup Group . Known as Udderly Good Stuff online, she’s been on eBay since 1998 and has grown up in the world of antiques and collectibles and reselling “stuff.” She hosts her own weekly show called Ask the Danni App, regularly appears on eBay Radio and is a speaker at eBay and eCommerce events and more.  She is the mother of 4 including two youngsters she calls her shipping supervisors, and makes a lifestyle out of juggling business and family. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @theDanniApp.

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