Get busy getting your papers organized

How many times have you had grand intentions to get your papers organized? You buy a few filing tools and get to work... only to quickly become overwhelmed with the piles and the necessary decisions. So you give up. The paper organizing process is one of the biggest challenges for one simple reason: we’re prone to all-or-nothing thinking.

We set high standards for ourselves and give up completely when we can’t meet them. So, here's another way. Rather than trying to create the perfect home filing system all at once, start by taking small actions. Decide on minimum daily steps that you’ll have no excuses for not achieving. Here's a list to get you started:

  • Make a commitment to review and process your mail immediately.
    This means opening all bills and putting them in your Action Center. Toss all internal adverts.
  • Make a commitment to shred and toss unsolicited junk mail the minute you touch it.
    Apply the "Touch It Once" rule for these papers, if that rule works for you.
  • Create an Action Center or Tickler File to give your incoming papers a temporary home.
  • Purge at least 10 paper items each day for the next 5 days.
    This includes brochures, old magazines, scrap papers, lists, manuals, and newspapers.
  • Give your magazines, catalogs and newspapers an Inspiration Container.
    When the container is full, start recycling. If they aren't inspiring you, cancel your subscription.
  • Give your receipts a Collection Container.
    When the container is full, start filing or tossing.
  • Give each of your kids a Collection Container.
    One spot to corral schoolwork, artwork, etc.
  • Get your kids into the flow by giving them a few new responsibilities.
    Teach kids how to start organizing their own papers and possessions.
  • Opt out of junk mail.
    There are many websites where you can do this, but my favorite is dmachoice.org.
  • Ask yourself, “What is stopping me from filing my papers?”
    Is it lack of time? Lack of a system? Uncertainty? Or are you totally overwhelmed? Your answer will lead you to your next step.

I would love to hear your ideas. What simple steps have you taken to gain control of your papers and responsibilities at home? Tell me on facebook or give me a tweet.

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