How to Organize Paper

Most of the information out there, tells you to grab the neverending flood of wood pulp that forces its way into your house, as it comes in, and you are to deal with it immediately.


Why?  Because people are terrible at making decisions.  Any decisions.  If you are just getting home at the end of a long workday, whether you work at an office, a home office, or you are at home with children, you are going to be tired, and your ability to make decisions is going to be worn out.

We spend all day making decisions, big and small, starting before we get out of bed.

Can I stay in bed 10 more minutes?  If I do though, I won’t have time to have a good breakfast, so I will just have to have toast.

Should I make my bed?  Nobody will see it except me and the dog, who doesn’t care, but on the other hand, does that make me a slob?

What should I wear today?  What should I make for lunch?  Construction has blocked my usual route to work, what other roads can I take?

Those are the small decisions.

Then there are the big decisions.

How much should I save for my retirement?   Should I stay married?  Should I get married?  Would anybody marry a person who consults her dog on whether to make the bed or not?

Why does paper end up cluttering your home?  You tried to sort it out when you were too tired to make the right choice about what to do with it.

The stuff arrives on your doorstep, or in your mailbox every day.  That does not make you obligated to deal with it as it arrives.  Paper is not your Boss.

organize paperThis is one time I recommend a basket.

Only one.  You aren’t going to fill baskets with random paper, and hope to be organized.  I have seen people who try to use that system, and they are people who pay a lot of late fees.

This basket will have a designated place in your home.  You gather up the reams of paper that come in through the door and place it in the basket.


All of it goes to the basket.  I know you are thinking that it is easy to see that you want to toss the flyers, and random letters addressed to “Occupant”.

But this means making decisions at a time of day when you need to be getting ready to wind down.  Don’t make anymore choices than you have to.

You aren’t going to be gathering paper for long.

Designate a time when you will take the basket, bring it out to where you pay bills, recycle, and decide a final destination for each piece of paper.  Maybe Saturday morning, or Sunday afternoon.  The point is that you make an appointment with yourself to get this task done.

You regard your own time as important.

Not, oh I guess I can do one more thing.

Each piece of paper is regarded as to what you want to do about it.  Maybe you like to examine the grocery flyers to see the specials, so you can make a grocery list to take advantage of them.

An invitation to a wedding or shower means that you decide if you want to go.  Maybe there is someone else to ask about this.  You have time for a discussion with your spouse to see how this would fit with your plans. Maybe you need to consider what you have in your wardrobe for this event.

Bills.  They have to be paid.  You have set this time aside to do that.  Perhaps, you have a calendar to put the bill in as a reminder to pay on another day, so you don’t pay late fees.

Perhaps, your local Soccer Team is having a Bottle Drive and sent out a flyer to let you know the date.  Put a reminder on your calendar, or your phone, so you can set bottles aside for that.

Each piece of paper is a separate decision, and you need to give yourself the time to make them.

When you get to the end of the basket, you are done for the week.

Put the recycle in its place, the basket in its place, and have a nice cup of tea to celebrate getting an important task completely done.

What is your biggest paper challenge?