Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cut Paper Clutter Down to Size

Cut Paper Clutter Down to Size

Cut Paper Clutter Down to Size

Start this year with some simple—but life-changing—habits that will get you out from under all that paper.
Common clutter problems like stacks of unopened mail and piles of outdated magazines can be easily remedied with small changes to your everyday routine.

Reachable Goal #1: Paperless Banking

Paying bills online reduces the amount of mail you receive. Plus you’ll use fewer checks, save on postage and won’t worry about your bills arriving on time. You can make payments through each specific biller's website, sign up for your bank's online service, or try researching other reputable service options online. Look for services that are free or have only minimal charges, as well as ones that receive your bills (so you don’t have to) and send you email reminders or allow you to set up automated payments on recurring bills.

If you’re still collecting and storing monthly bank statements and posted paper checks, sign up for your bank’s paperless plan (most banks have one) so they can be delivered online instead.

Reachable Goal #2: Sort the Mail

Identify the area where the mail typically piles up. Is it a hall table? A desk? Clear it off and wipe down this frequently used area with Windex® Multi-Surface Antibacterial or Pledge® Multi Surface Cleaner. Now you’re ready to set up your organization system.

You’ll need a recycling bin, a paper shredder (or a good pair of scissors) and a tray. When you arrive home with the mail, everything has a place to go. Put junk mail right into the recycling bin, shred mail that might contain personal information (like unwanted credit-card offers) and place bills and other important mail in the tray. Empty the shredder and the recycling bin once a week to keep the area clean, sorted and pile free.

Reachable Goal #3: Read and Recycle

Most people hang on to outdated newspapers and magazines because of an article they hope to read. Solution: remove the article, staple the pages together and recycle the rest. Keep articles in a place where you're likely to pick them up and read them or stash them in a Ziploc® Brand Bag to keep in your purse or car for when you are waiting at the doctor’s office or want to read on your lunch hour.

To keep periodicals from piling up, try this experiment: if you get your newspaper on a daily basis, give yourself 24 hours to read it. Do this for two weeks; then ask yourself if you really read the newspaper every day. Could you find the same news online, perhaps? Subscribe to only the weekend edition? Answering these questions could help you save space and money.

This rule of thumb can work for magazines, too. If an issue arrives weekly, give yourself a time limit of 7 days to read it; biweekly, 14 days; and monthly, 30 days. When the new issue arrives, the previous issue should be recycled. This test will let you know which reading materials are worth the investment and the clutter in your home.

Reachable Goal #4: Categorize Tax Receipts

Make a list of all the categories from your Schedule A or Schedule C tax forms (the ones you take as deductions and keep receipts for). These include expenses related to a job search, home-office supplies (paper, postage, etc.), as well as certain medical visits and travel. Label one pocket folder for each category on your list. Gather the folders and place them in the front of your filing cabinet or in their own file box—just as long as you have access to them every day. When you have a receipt, drop it right into the appropriate folder.

At the end of the year, there’ll be no need to search for important receipts or even sort them. It’s already done. Add them up and fill in the number. Who knew taxes could be this easy?

Reachable Goal #5: Tote Purchases Home

Where do you keep your collection of grocery and shopping bags after you return from the store? Do they take up all the space under your kitchen sink? The floor of your pantry? Next time you take a trip to the market or the drug store, bring along a tote bag or Ziploc® Brand Big Bag to carry your items home. Most stores sell reusable bags for a dollar or two as well. It’s a great investment that will save trees and free up storage space.

Thanks Right @ Home!

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