Spring is a great time of year to get control of the clutter that has crept into our homes over the winter months. Even if the paper piles have been building up longer than a few months, its time to face those clutter fears and go for a fresh beginning! These four easy steps are mainly geared towards the papers in our lives, but can be applied to anything that has stacked up and is slowly taking over your spaces. Paper just seems to be the most common culprit.
This is the first step to taking back control. Walk through your home, every room, and collect all the different papers and random stacks. Place them in a box so you have a central work station to start from. You'll already start to feel better as you uncover long lost counter space and have more room on your desks and night stands.
Find a room, like a home office where you can work from for a few days. Its best if it is a place where minimal family traffic exists. You'll need to create piles and you may need more time than an hour or so. Once you have your spot, get out the box and go through each item one by one. Sort into major piles first and then we'll refine from there. Some ideas of your piles might be:
- Tax Documents
- Monthly Statements
- Monthly Bills
- Sentimental items like kids school work, cards, birthday greetings, etc.
- Action paperwork. These are the things you need to do something with right away like sign, call someone, etc.
Once you have everything sorted, you'll want to start with your trash pile. Be sure to shred these documents as you throw them out. The FTC estimates up to 9 million americans a year are victims of identity theft.
Next, create a folder for every pile and every sub pile you go through. For example, if you are going through your monthly statements, make a folder for each month and put all statements in it. For Bills you can have a current folder for that month and then once paid, move them into individual folders organized by bill: gas bills, water bills, car payment, etc. Write on the bill when you paid it and how you paid it so that you have an easy reference should you ever need it.
The last step to consider is what can be stored online. How would you like to trade in your boxes of files and papers? While this may not be possible to do for everything, evaluate where it can be done. Here are a few ideas to get you started?
- Scan in all tax documents and store in folders on your computer by year. With these, I would still keep hard copies because you just never know what you might need.
- Monthly bills and statements. Look into how many of these can be paid online. Most banks offer free bill pay and once you set up the account, it is easy to send each month.
- Go paperless. Many companies also offer paperless options. Create folders on your computer to store these in. Organize them just as you would if they were paper.
- Sentimental items. Maybe scan or photograph your favorites of your children's work, top grades, etc. And organize online until you are able to print them for a scrapbook or memory book.
And the last thing to do if you begin to transition most things online, find reliable back up storage so if your computer crashes, you can still get everything back. This is especially important if you are already storing photos on it. Most companies, like BackBlaze, are affordable ranging in price from $5-10 a month and can make a world of difference if your computer suddenly refuses to boot up.
As daunting as it can sometimes seem to tackle the paper piles, there are also some essential oils you can use to help. If you find you are having a hard time getting rid of things, it's helpful to diffuse Wild Orange. It is the oil of abundance and will help you realize you have enough and allow you to let go of any scarcity or hoarding emotions.
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