Archive for papers


How to Sort Papers

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We were away last weekend and busy all week. So today I had a bigger pile of papers than usual. I did my TV pile method.

I turned on No Way Out on the TV. I like the movie but I’ve seen it quite a few times and don’t need to have my full attention on it.

I sat on the living room floor with my pile in front of me. One by one I picked up a piece of paper and decided what pile it went in. These were the piles I needed this week

  • trash
  • to file
  • receipts
  • magazines
  • recycle
  • coupons
  • exercises
  • recipes
  • to do/data entry

Once everything was sorted, I used the commercials to put it all away.

Trash got thrown out. I filed the to files. Receipts I shredded (tax receipts went into the to file pile).

The magazines went into the magazine rack which I quick glanced through for any magazines to be recycled.

Coupons went in my coupon folder.

The exercises were ripped out of my fitness or yoga magazines and put in my in box. The exercise articles go in an expandable file folder sorted in categories: upper body, abs, lower body, full body, yoga, pilates, cardio, ketteball

The recipes go in my menu planner. When the slots get overfilled, I let go of recipes I probably won’t make.

Another commercial gave me time to put the local college’s arts schedule into Google calendar, my hair appointment from my schedule card, some to dos on my to do list (and I put the cooresponding paper into the take action folder)

Now my inbox is empty.

Categories : Organization
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Paperwork on the Go

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I got an email from a person in my declutter group, asking how to deal with papers when not at home.

When I was working out of the home, I used an expandable file folder – like this:

(Except mine I got free from my insurance company :)

There are usually 6 or 7 slots. So things to sort can go in one, to do, to pay, to read, trash unless you have a trash nearby.

It’s great if you are waiting at the doctor’s or waiting for the kids. I used to take care of paper on my lunch break at work sometimes.

It’s very light and portable. The papers aren’t all over so you can sort, or take action on your paper where ever you are.

Categories : Organization
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Making Decisions on Paper

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A client was having trouble making decisions on paper (actually most of my clients have trouble making decisions on paper – very common.) I said something and she asked me to email it to her.

This is what I wrote: It helps to remember that the really important papers always come around more than once – a friend will follow up, financial papers you need to action get sent again, articles and FYIs can be found on the internet. Even bank statements and check stubs are there more often. Many things you can make a phone call and get another one sent. It’s just stuff and it’s hard to make a permanently bad decision with paper.


When you get into perfectionistic mode with paper, it’s easy to think that you might make a terrible mistake with the paper. The reality is that is highly unlikely.

If you know the basics, like how long to keep financial papers and have an action file set up and a working file system you can go from paper piles everywhere to papers controlled. My only unsorted papers are in my inbox, everything else has its place. And that feels great.

It took awhile to find something that worked for me and to create habits like sorting at least once a week. It helps that this is a self-purging system. I also have containers so I know when my in box is full, I need to sort. When my to file folder can’t hold more, it’s time to file. When my action file is too stuffed, I need to work through those items. Instead of letting them become pile after pile after pile.

How is your file system working? Do you have any paper piles to tackle?

Categories : Finance, Organization
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