If paper is the bane of your existence, you’re not alone. Last year, StatisticBrain.com released some staggering statistics about paper. According to their research, there has been a 400% increase in paper use since the mid-1970’s. Much of that paper adds to our stress; for example, they report that there are 105 billion junk mail letters delivered annually in the U.S. and that the average document is copied ten times. Each person uses an average of 700 pounds of paper a year.
The United States Post Office released a study a number of years ago stating we received more mail in a day than our parents received in a week, and we receive more paper in a week than our parents received in a month.
It’s no surprise, then, that the paper in our lives makes us feel overwhelmed, stressed, and out of control.
Here are some tips to curtail the amount of paper you have to deal with:
• Pitch the junk mail before it enters your home. Keep a recycling bin and a shredder right near the entrance of your house, so unnecessary papers can be purged before landing on your kitchen counter.
• When a new issue of a magazine arrives, recycle the previous issue. If there is any article you feel you must read, cut it out and discard the balance of the old magazine.
• Not every paid bill has to be saved. You definitely want to hold on to anything that has a tax implication (i.e., acknowledgement letter for a charitable donation) or represents a capital improvement (i.e., the bill for the new roof), or is an expense that can be written off on your tax return. However, there are many other bills that can safely be discarded (i.e., non-deductible expenses). Shred those unnecessary documents. Not sure what to keep and what to toss? Contact me for a summary sheet.
• Consider scanning important paperwork, rather than keeping hard copies. Be sure to back up your computer to at least two different locations (i.e., external hard drive and cloud storage). If the paperwork contains a raised seal (i.e., birth certificate) or is a vital document (i.e., military discharge papers, marriage license, divorce decree) save the document in hard-copy format in addition to scanning it.
• Toss offers you have no interest in using (i.e., the solicitation for dog walking when you only have a goldfish).
• Discard offers that have expired and invitations for events that have passed.
• Create a filing system that enables you to access the papers you need quickly. No amount of pretty boxes, decorative bins, or fancy labels from Etsy will actually make it easier for you to put your fingers on a specific document when you need it. Rather, you need a filing system that is both easy to use, and easy to maintain and, most importantly, makes retrieval easy. If you need help, let’s get started by setting up a free phone consult. Contact me to schedule time.