HOW TO BECOME PAPER CLUTTER FREE FOR GOOD
My desk use to look like a tornado hit it with all of the paper clutter, art utensils, books and everything else that would collect on it. When I was younger my desk was immaculate I had a system for everything when I was in school. Then as an adult, I had triple the paper clutter from everything I printed out to the poems I wrote; I literally saved everything.
STEP ONE- WHERE TO BEGIN?
Look at your desk as a whole, what do you have the most of? Random papers, mail, your work, printed out material from online, school, etc.
Make piles on the floor; make sure there is a lot of space in between each pile. Don’t make sub-groups just yet. Only piles of mail, your work, school, kids, printed out material online, and so on.
Label each group from 1 to; however, many piles you have.
PRO TIP: Number in order from the smallest pile to the immense pile.
Begin with pile one and begin separating it into sub-groups. For example, if this is your mail group, divide it into junk mail to be recycled, bills to be paid, bills already paid.
Take action on what can be handled right now, for example, all the trash papers put in the recycling or shred it now. The bills that need to be paid now put in your purse or by your wallet. The statements that are already paid keep in a pile. On the floor, you should only have one small pile left if you keep your bills that are paid for reference.
Now continue onto pile two. If this is your printable pile from online, you may need ample space for this if your floor isn’t big enough. Move to the kitchen table or a more substantial area that is cleared off. Make sub-groups for everything. Try your best to throw almost half of it away if you can. If you absolutely cannot, then think about how you are going to store it. Will it be in binders, file cabinet, bookshelf, etc.
Don’t spend all your time on finding folders or stop what your doing to go out and buy the items if you don’t have the storage items, that is fine. Just put the individual paper in between each section to keep it separated and label it quickly. For example, courses, books, research information, etc. Then immediately put it where it will go, on the bookshelf, binder area, file cabinet, etc.
Again don’t worry about organizing it; for now, you will come back to it. Just focus on getting rid of as much paper as you can but in the process of keeping everything organized. If you don’t have anywhere to put it as of right now, that is fine. Put it neatly back on the floor in a stack. Keep continuing with your next piles.
STEP TWO- WHAT TO DO AFTER ALL YOUR PILES ARE ORGANIZED
After everything is organized into piles either on the floor or put back on your desk neatly, this is where the excitement happens! There are several ways of condensing paper to become clutter-free but do you know the best approach for you? Get out of your comfort zone and try something new!
Going paperless can seem very scary but it is your best friend! Not only are you helping your environment out and saving the trees but you are also helping your self out by becoming more stress-free. You may not think you have stressed with all the paper clutter around but you actually are. It may not be a lot to actually mean anything but stress adds up and by doing everything you can to eliminate it. DO IT!
Use your printer to scan all your papers into your computer, if you have a scanner. Once each set of groups is scanned in making sure you have your folders organized on where each group goes.
If for some reason your computer is not working with you and you can not make folders correctly then use a program called trello or asana to organize everything. Both of these are completely free to use. Yes, there are payable options but with what you need to do you can use the free option.
If you are worried about files corrupting or losing your information take all the necessary precautions. Back it up to your cloud, google drive, dropbox, memory card and so much more to look in to.
There are so many pros to going paperless, for example if you are at your childs DR. appointment and you forgot to bring in your insurance statement, or your research that you wanted to share, by having it in asana, trello, dropbox, google drive or your cloud you can litterally bring it up on any device you have, your phone, ipad, laptop etc.
We all get busy and forget at least one thing when we leave the house and this has helped me out a lot. Or if you are on a job interview and you litterally had no access to a printer to print out your resume having it on hand and being able to email it at a moments notice really helps out and makes you look very organized. As long as you are being honest and truthful in what you are saying. Don’t use it as your crutch everytime.
DON’T HAVE A SCANNER?
If you want to go paperless but do not have a scanner or are not able to buy one then going old school it is. This route will take absolutely forever to do but if you take it one step at a time and plan each day out to put it on your computer then you will be fine. If you are not able to type without looking at the keys, that is ok, just take each day one step at a time and take everything slowly. Make sure you take a lot of breaks.
If you have books or short stories to put on your computer, see if you can buy it to keep on your computer or save it on a memory card. Make sure you label each memory card you have.
Once all of the hard work is completed you will be more aware of what you have and sometimes you won’t want to put everything in your computer and you will end up getting rid of more paper which is a total plus. Doing the long old school ways often help out a lot, I like to think about what did our ancestors do, what did pioneers do and then I try and come up with a solution to cut back.
Need to take other steps before going paperless?
Do you have a file cabinet?
Organize your file cabinet into sections from the mail, your work, kids’ schoolwork, and so on. I generally do not color-code anything because it can become very confusing. But in this case, use the rainbow but limit yourself to that many colors. If you have more than that, then re-think how much you want to file and ask your self these questions.
Will you be using this within a month?
Will you be using this tomorrow?
Will this just be collecting dust because you want it to have it?
Think about if you will use this or not. If you are not using it, write everything down on your computer in a notepad or the free asana, google drive, cloud, dropbox, word, etc. That way, you can either download it on your computer and recycle the carbon copy.
If you are having a hard time deciding, then just put it away for now and then make a note to come back in two months to reassess everything to see what you have used and what you have not used.
Those items that you have not used to recycle them; you don’t need them; they are just taking up space.
Do the same method for a file cabinet, but make sure you have room for everything! Don’t make any unnecessary changes to your home because you want to keep all your papers. Take a step back and see how much you will have. Ask your self
Do I need to buy more binders?
Do I need to buy a bookshelf to keep the binders on?
Will I actually be using ALL of these papers?
How often will I actually be using all of these papers?
Can I gift anything to anyone?
Don’t create more clutter just to organize your clutter. I always like to recycle 80% of what I have because I know I won’t actually be using it. I just wanted it to have it which is not a good way to look at things.
So I changed the way I look at everything. If I don’t actually use it within a month I come back to reassess everything and get rid of what I don’t use or gift it. I must have had over 10,00lbs of junk that I have gotten rid of over the years. No exaggeration I have donated a ton of furniture and trashed a ton of my items.
After letting everything go I felt a lot better, of course at first I didn’t feel right doing it but once I was in the correct mindset I was able to
Taking baby steps to clean up your clutter and having more room in your home is vital to becoming more stress-free and more productive. Too much paper can be very overwhelming and stressful. If you take these steps to have less paper or completely go paperless you will notice a huge difference in the way you feel!
After you clean up all the paper on your desk make sure you pick up all the trash and art clutter and clean your desk off. Make it look sparkly clean and smelling good. Try adding a little greenery fake or real plant with a candle to make it look more inviting to work at your desk and happy to have a clean, neat and organized desk.