February 3, 2016

A Few Quick Tips for Tackling the Paper Pile

Clearing your paper clutter can ease stress, anxiety and clear up your schedule. In addition, you will be able to keep track of bills and important events

Clutter is a bit like a baggy sweater; it is unflattering and makes an otherwise attractive area look messy and unkempt. If you can tackle the biggest clutter-attractors, your home will look instantly cleaner. Not only is clutter unpleasant to look at, but it can also be physically and emotionally damaging. Too much clutter is not only a fire hazard; it is also a breeding ground for dust, allergens and dirt.

Clearing your paper clutter can help ease stress, anxiety and clear up your schedule. In addition, you will be able to keep track of bills and other important events.  Stop wasting time moving papers from one spot to another and get rid of it for good, with a few of these tips and tricks:

Trim the Paper Piles

Paper piles are easy to accumulate. Bills, advertisements, cards, letters, children’s artwork, schoolwork, reminders, receipts and to-do-lists get set aside until you have a few minutes to go through it, but you never do. Paper clutter builds big and fast. The key to maintaining control is to tackle it right away.

Here are a few methods for getting your paperwork under control:

Tackle one pile at a time: So you have a paper pile the size of the Golden Gate Bridge, how do you get rid of it all? To avoid getting overwhelmed, set aside at least an hour a day until you get rid of your pile. Tackle one pile at a time.

1. Sort papers into three piles: keep, recycle, shred. Nearly all paperwork can be recycled, including your junk mail! For a complete list check out Recology.

2. Set your shred/recycle documents aside and focus on your keep pile. Sort that pile into individual categories and file appropriately. Put dates into your calendar and toss reminders into the recycle stack. If you have any upcoming bills, keep a short stack of “need’s attention” papers in a small tray on your desk or table. Go through it regularly and eliminate items you have dealt with.

3. You should shred any documents that contain personal information including credit card offers, bills and prescription information. If you have a lot of paperwork, shredding can take some time. For large batches, try a local shredding service.

A few options include:

Shred Nations: You can drop off your documents for shredding at 1459 18th Street in San Francisco.  They are open Monday through Friday 9-6 and Saturday 10-4. They can even come to your home and shred your documents on site. Visit their website for more information.

American Shredding: They offer onsite document shredding. If you have old computers to get rid of, they can take of that too. They are located at 1221 3rd Street, in Oakland. Visit their website for pricing information.

San Francisco Paper Shredding: They offer onsite and drop-off shredding services for a fee. Contact them at 415.413.0096 for pricing or visit their website to learn more about how your personal documents are disposed of.

4. Toss remaining paperwork into the recycle bin or locate a nearby recycling center.

Prevent the paper clutter from coming back:

Scan and store: When you get a bill, write out the check or schedule an online payment the same day and then shred the paper copy. Some important paperwork should be stored. Either store it in a filing cabinet (labeled, accessible files), or scan the paperwork into your computer (or an external hard drive) and ditch the paper copy. You can buy a desktop sized document scanner for about $100 at Office Depot. There are about seven locations in San Francisco, or you can just order online.

Kid’s artwork: Artwork and schoolwork can be a real guilt-inducing habit to break. It is natural to want to keep every drawing little Johnny has done, but it quickly piles up. There are a few ways you can tackle this particular pile-creator.

  • Take a photo or scan the artwork and put digital copies on a digital picture frame for a quick, clutter free display.
  • Purchase one or two artwork display frames. You can hang your little ones’ work in style and the frames are thick enough to store a few pieces out of sight too.
  • Create an artwork binder using a three-ring binder and sheet covers. Only keep a few of your favorites.

One and Done:  Any papers that come into your house should only be in your hands one time. When you get the mail, sort through the pile and toss any coupons, offers and other junk mail you know you are not going to use. Only keep the coupons if you know you will use them and make sure to cut out the ones you need right away, tossing the rest of the paper into the recycling bin.

Once you have your paperwork under control, shredding personal documents, filing or recycling your paper will take much less time and help keep your home more organized.