From Where I Sit – Paper Chase

Does anyone remember the promise of a paperless society that was to follow the widespread use of personal computers? It didn’t happen, folks.

Paper is swallowing some of us alive and is the greatest cause of clutter in most households. I love paper. Let me correct that. I love some paper and detest the rest. On the most hated list is junk mail. How could we survive without weekly credit card applications from every bank under the sun? Or countless farm equipment sales fliers? Or the seasonal onslaught of farm chemical brochures? I’ve gotten good at sorting the mail over the garbage can. Hey, what Roy doesn’t see doesn’t end up in a pile on the kitchen table. I always save the weekly papers and the Princess Auto catalogues for him – what’s up with men and Princess Auto anyway? Reading the Edmonton Journal and National Post daily contributes to the clutter but I’m not giving them up.

In addition to the sheer volume of mail coming into most households is all the paper related to work, study or hobbies. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t have newsletters, meeting packages, periodicals and books piling up quicker than you can keep up reading them?

The key question becomes how long do we hang onto these materials and how do we organize them so we can find them when we need to. Will you ever need it again? Can you get the same information from another source? In my case it’s a constant fight to part with stuff because I’m sure I’ll need it.

I’ve used a combination of file cabinets, hanging and regular folders, accordion folders, and three ring binders. One thing that’s made things simpler is re-labeling file folders with the name of vendors rather than generic categories like repairs, utilities, income. Another thing I’m trying this year is more folders to handle information on investments, life insurance info, air miles/rewards programs. Specific project files for things like the hail insurance claim or the exploration work have saved countless hours of frustration.

Three new bookcases house books and collectibles. Several decorative baskets and covered boxes store decorating magazines and photos.

I’m still working on the one-touch rule. Organizers advise handling each piece of paper only once. What action is required – file, toss, reply, act? Be strong and decisive they advise. Clutter is the result of decisions postponed announced one TV expert.

Managing the paper in my purse is another challenge. Organizing identification, receipts, money, shopping lists and my planner is the goal. Keeping a list of replacement cartridge numbers for the printer and fax makes life easier and minimizes buying errors.

A fridge calendar, leather-bound day planner and purse-sized month-at-a-glance calendar help keep me organized, on time and reasonably on top of a typically busy schedule.

In the war with paper, we need to marshal all our resources, tools and battlefield smarts to come out on top. Doing so will save us time, money and frustration – all good things from where I sit.

*Reprinted with permission