Paper comes into your home from many sources, even in our digital world. Between junk mail, bills, school papers, and medical records, eventually all this paper can create piles that are annoying to deal with and sometimes even overwhelming. However, the more you procrastinate on taking care of them, the easier it is for the problem to get out of hand. By reducing paper clutter, not only will you improve the appearance of your home and make it easier to find what you need, you will also probably reduce your stress level. Every piece of paper represents an action, and too much paper piled around can increase your feeling of never getting everything done.
Process of Decluttering
First, you should gather all of the piles of paper and collections of files and notebooks—every source of paper documents you can think of—into one area of you home. During this process, discard anything you obviously don’t need. You may be left with just one big mountain of paper. However, take it one pile at a time. If you already have some form of paper organization in place, you can start with one category and move through them. Don’t try to tackle your entire paper clutter pile at once; that method will most likely leave you feeling burned out and unable to finish. Take it one folder, category, or pile at a timer, set a timer for 10-20 minutes, and just focus on determining what to do with each paper in that particular pile.
What to Do With Unwanted Papers
For any documents that may contain sensitive information, it’s best to shred the items. You can invest in a relatively inexpensive home paper shredder, or if you have many documents, you can hire a paper shredding service to do the job for you. The list below is not comprehensive; when in doubt, do further research on whether or not a particular item should be shredded. In general, shred anything with social security numbers, account numbers, passwords/pin numbers, or any other sensitive information.
Paper documents that should be shredded:
- Credit card related documents: preapproval letters, statements
- Bank statements
- Utility bills
- Insurance policy info
- ATM receipts
- Credit reports
- Legal documents
- Medical bills and records
When it comes to the papers that you are keeping and filing, make sure every piece is truly important to keep. Have a labeled file folder for each category of papers, such as a medical records file for each member of the family, and sort those papers quickly into the folders. Ask yourself whether it is truly important to keep the document as a record or for the future, most of the time, this is not the case.
Once you finish each session of decluttering and have determined which papers you want to dispose of, make sure you take care of the job immediately. If you leave them sitting around for too long, you might forget or procrastinate. Either put them in a recycling bin in your garage or car or throw them away as soon as possible.
If you have a lot of paper to dispose of, consider recycling. Recycling is beneficial to our environment and community because it saves landfill space, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and provides a sustainable source for making new paper. Paper makes up 28 percent of solid trash in landfills, according to the EPA.
How to Stop Paper Clutter in the Future
Life always manages to get in the way of even our best intentions, so it’s important to keep up with a weekly or even daily management of your papers. Take 20 minutes at least each week to gather any random papers and deal with them immediately. Even more effective is to adopt a one-touch rule: every piece of paper that comes into your home should only be touched once. This means that you determine exactly what to do with it and take action with it the first time you pick it up. Whatever process you adopt, don’t tell yourself it’s okay to pile your junk mail or school papers on the counter “just this once,” as it’s too easy to fall right back into bad habits and end up with many “just this once” piles around your house again. Stay proactive and you’ll maintain control over the paper monster once and for all.
While a small amount of paper can go in the recycling bin, if you wind up with a lot of papers that you no longer need, contact ABH Services Inc. about our bulk paper and bulk cardboard recycling services. We can take that paper off your hands and dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way. After your paper decluttering project is complete, contact us at 781-941-2422. For more guides on how to remove clutter from your home, be sure to follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/abhservices.