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Files and Files and Too Much Paper

Files and Files and Too Much Paper

In our highly technological age, an era claimed to be paper free, many of us are inundated with more paper than we need or know how to handle. It is a continual source of frustration for many of my clients since the barrage of paper continues to pour into their homes and offices. What to do?

I recently worked with a long time client and as we made our sweep through catchall areas of her home, we came to the entryway table which is an ideal breeding ground for clutter and paper. At the holidays, she had a 4″ stack of catalogs. Rather than throw them into recycling, I told her to have her assistant call each one of them and remove her name from the list. All those items are available online and she doesn’t need the catalogs delivered on a regular basis. My goal: stop it at the source and keep it stopped. As soon as an errant catalog arrives at my house, I call instantly to have it removed. Make sure you have them remove you from all associated publications as well.

Keep up with the Sorting. As mail comes in, many of us would rather not deal with and make yet another decision. Yet that’s exactly what we need to do. Otherwise, we get the piles of unopened mail on desktops, countertops, around tables, chairs and elsewhere. My goal is to look at it as it comes in and MAKE A DECISION about it then. Otherwise, it compounds the problem and it grows and grows. I’ve worked with clients with unopened mail dating from 5 years or more. It then gets put into bags, boxes and other creative hiding places so the owner doesn’t have to face it. It never goes away until we deal with it.

Once we’ve sorted, we purge the unnecessary and keep what we need. Today there are a variety of double sided scanning devices, like Neat Desk, so you can have a paperless office and home. Of course, there is a good amount of work on the front end to get everything scanned, yet then its just maintenance by keeping up with the pieces you need. This can be backed up to an external hard drive as well as the Cloud, which you can access from anywhere in the world.

Many clients like the old school method of keeping a filing cabinet for their needed documents. The goal here is to create a system that works for you. Most people save way more paper than they need. They have tax documents over seven years old, they keep credit card bills and bank statements. All those are archived online on each website. Go paperless the more you can. If you don’t need to get it in the mail, then DON’T! That saves you from having to touch it, look at it and make a decision about it. I prefer to put all my tabs for hanging files justified left. We read from left to right. When we have a file drawer full of tabs in all different locations, our eyes spin as they try to find the right tab. When they are all in one place, our eyes only have to look in one location. As well as having them alphabetized, then we know where our desired file is in the lineup. Break up larger files with regular file folders so to make a big category easy to manage.

The other goal is to routinely go through our files and purge outdated papers. What happens is we put paper after paper into these files and close the door on it, only to have a burgeoning and growing monster inside. Set a schedule of every quarter to go through and see what you have and keep what’s essential and purge the rest. Keep it simple. Update as needed and keep files lean as can be.

If you should need help with organizing your files, setting up new systems or redesigning an existing one, call Creative Space Organizing at 510.501.1213. We serve San Francisco, Oakland, East Bay, Marin, Walnut Creek and Napa.