Organizing Tip #20: Pile of Papers

A pile of papers on my desk is about the worst thing for me to see or clean up. It isn't the papers on their own, it is the guilt I feel when I look at that pile!

I am not sure why a pile of paper on my desk makes me feel so badly. Maybe it is because I mentally labor over what is in the pile. Is it bills? Do I have to read them? Or just file? Once the pile is gone, I feel on top of the world! Wow, the power of paper!

Here is how I handle that build up of paper piles.

Let's look at first, what to do with the pile; second, how to avoid ever having a pile accumulate; third, how to enjoy not having paper anymore!

#1. What do you do with the pile of papers? When I am faced with the dreaded pile staring before me, I gather the entire paper pile off my desk and put it on my bed or counter so I can sort it.

Next, I clean and straighten my desk. Ahhh, that feels better already!

Now, I divide the big pile into several, little, separate piles: throw away, file away, bills to pay, stuff to read, stuff to do.

This process is a simple example of how to take an overwhelming task (the pile of papers) and break it into small steps (throw away, file away, etc.).

Now just deal with each pile. Throw away - easy. File away - easy, just boring. Bills to pay - put where you pay bills or just go ahead and pay them. Stuff to read - put where you like to read maybe your bedside table. Finally, stuff to do - the more difficult pile because there may be a variety of things here you need to do. Pour yourself some tea or coffee and get it done. Yay! You did it!!

#2. How to avoid accumulating a pile of papers. This is an easy solution. Create a place for each type of pile you had in #1. I learned a simple rule about 25 years ago . . . handle paper once. You handle it when you get it.

You get your mail. Open each piece of mail and as you handle it this first time, you decide where it goes. Is it a bill? Put it in your file folder or bin for bills. Does it need to be filed? Put it in your filing system (ie file it). Is it something to read like a magazine? Put it where you read. The stuff to do pile is always tricky because it may be a phone call or a response needed. Make a bin for to-do's. If you do this, you will not end up with a pile of papers because everything will be where it needs to be for when you are ready to do those tasks.

#3. How to not have paper anymore. I recently went digital. I scanned in all my paper files and created digital files on my computer. I contacted all my utilities and bills to go paperless. Everything I used to file, I now get an email or pdf and I put it in the digital file. Even when shopping, I ask for email receipts instead. I even got rid of my filing cabinet! Yay!! My mail has decreased significantly and when I moved recently, I still updated my new address, but I didn't have to worry about losing mail.

Tackle your paper, create a system, and don't let the piles of paper get you down!

Featured photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.