By E.B. Solomont, MNN.com
Paper clutter poses a challenge for the most organized among us, with seemingly limitless amounts of junk mail arriving daily. Short of going paperless (a great option, if you can pull it off), managing and filing paper can reduce the clutter currently occupying your desk, dining room table or kitchen counter. (And by the way, keeping your papers in shoeboxes isn’t the best answer either.) Though there isn’t a “right way,” the following are nine tips from the experts on how to manage the paper stream in your life.
Related: How Clutter Affects You
1. Sort by verb, file by noun: Believe it or not, grammar can help differentiate between papers you need to deal with now versus those you can store away, according to Renee Kutner, a self-described “chaos advisor” and founder of Atlanta-based Peace by Piece Organizing. Generally speaking, documents that require action should be sorted by verb. (Such as: pay a bill, RSVP to a party, call someone back, mail the form.) Use a noun to file away papers by category. (Such as: recipes, insurance, kids’ report cards, tax information.) There is no right way to label the system, Kutner says. “The question is, what are you going to look for when you want to retrieve it?” she says.
2. Enlist help in getting off mailing lists. Sure, you can place dozens of calls to get yourself off those mailing lists … or you can hire help through websites like www.41pounds.org and www.stopthejunkmail.com. The average adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year, according to www.41pounds.org. “We’ll contact dozens of companies on your behalf to stop your junk mail and protect the environment,” the site boasts.
3. Open your mail over the recycling bin: Opening your mail over the trash can and recycling bin stops junk mail before it can clutter up your desk. “It saves so much time,” says Dahlia Bellows, a licensed master social worker and founder of New York City’s Your Amazing Space. Head straight to the garbage when the mail comes, Bellows says. When you’re finished, you’ll have fewer items to go through.