Schoolwork, hospital papers, bills and running two businesses out of our home. Things had gotten out of control and our current paper clutter system wasn’t working 100% for us. Yall I’ve literally read every single book out there to try to combat paper clutter. They all fail to mention one small thing. One small trick changed that forever and I’m so happy to share that with you today. It’s probably not what you’re thinking.
Ways I tackle paper clutter
***First part of our paper screening: This generally happens when we bring mail into the house, go shopping, out to dinner etc….
–Mail. Go paperless so as many things as possible. Before you bring any mail into the house, go through it quickly. If it’s a sales ad, it goes straight into the recycling. If it’s junk but needs to be shredded, it comes into the house.
–Plastic bags. I use reusable bags if I’m doing a large shopping trip for groceries. If it’s a smaller trip for a few things, I always ask for no bag. Yep, they look at you like a crazy person so I usually hoist myself onto my soapbox and start discussing how bad plastic bags are for the environment.
-Receipts. Take photo of your receipt and have a designated folder for them. Then throw the receipt away (or shred if needed.)
-Patient information and alcohol wipes. For about a year, I was finding my patient data sheets from a previous shift left in my scrubs. It took a while but I finally have a habit of emptying my pockets before I leave work. That also means I don’t wash alcohol wipes with my other laundry. If you’ve ever done that you know it’s a pain and leaves little balls of paper everywhere!
-Product Warranties. Register your stuff as soon as you get it and throw the papers away. If you are nervous about forgetting the information, send yourself an email or set up a google doc with the information.
-Product Manuals. I only keep two of these and those are the ones for my sewing machine and serger. I use them so often and I often don’t have access to my computer when I’m using them.
***Second part of our paper screening: This is usually mail (to be kept), junk mail (to be shredded), and important docs that have to be filed.
-Deciding What Needs to Be Filed
As a general rule for filed papers, anything that involves state or government. Why? Because it takes a long ass time to replace it and it’s a pain.
Social security cards
Car registration (put it in your car straight away)
That’s it. Most of everything else can be found online or accessed in some other way.
It’s a good idea to also scan all of these documents and keep them on a password locked external hard drive in a safety deposit box.
***Third part of our paper screening: Yep, just like administration of medication in the medical world (three checks, five rights), this will happen right before you shred it. Glance over the item and make sure you don’t need to file it!!
This is where the quest of conquering my paper clutter usually ended. Those shredded piles would stay on the counter… The file pile would stay and often get mixed in with the shred pile…. I still have a car registration I can’t find and I’m pretty sure I threw it out or shredded on accident…..
A basket. With. A. Lid.
Those papers that needed to be shredded were never making it upstairs (where we kept the shredder) and eventually were ending up in a pile, then a basket, and then forgotten about.
Not anymore! I’d been wanting to move the shredder downstairs for ages but I refused to have a shredder in our living room. Hello ugly visual clutter!! The basket solves that problem and it’s pretty! Win. Win.
The cable was an issue for me at first and I thought about cutting a hole in the base of the basket but it would fall apart if I did. I just taped it into the basket and only enough shows to reach the plug.
I’m really happy with it and it’s been working for about a month now. Oh and there are so many pretty baskets on the market right now. I’ve linked a few of my favorites below to make it easy for you to shop (affiliate links).