What is the Number One Way to Reduce Paper Clutter? GO PAPERLESS!

whitekeyboardThough going paperless will involve some initial time and energy, the long-term results will provide you with a less cluttered home, peace of mind and a more efficient workspace.

Top 5 Reasons to Go Paperless:

1. Go Green!  Going paperless reduces the number of trees sacrificed each year.

2. Increased efficiency and creativity!  Less paper = more productivity. With fewer papers on your desk, you not only clear space for productivity, you clear space for creative thoughts!

3. Decreases Clutter!  Having fewer papers piled on your desk and around your office limits the risk of losing important documents.

4. Reduces operating costs!  As the paper grows, so do your storage and supply costs.  Going paperless also prevents you from spending money on office supplies like filing cabinets, files, envelopes, checks, and stamps.

5. Provides Tighter Security!  Paper documents are subject to both identity theft and destruction from natural disasters.


Ways to Go Paperless:

  • Sign up for online banking
  • Use online bill pay services
  • Cancel junk mail, magazine and newspaper subscriptions
  • Purchase a scanner
    Option: Fujitsu ScanSnap

Important to Remember When Deciding to Go Paperless:

  • Back up your computer either through an external hard drive or preferably, online!
    Option: Carbonite
  • Start right where you are. Don’t worry about going back and trying to scan a lot of old information at first. Set up files on your computer that mimic your paper files. Over time your paper files will diminish.

Top 10 Retrieval System Tips

file cabinet detail

In order for information to be readily retained and retrieved, you need an efficient system.

1. Alphabetize your files! Make sure the categories are not too general, otherwise the file becomes a disorganized “catch-all” and your good intentions will be sabotaged. Categorize and sub-categorize in a way that works for you!

2. Use sturdy hanging file folders with clear tabs. The colored tabs are harder to read. For the cleanest look, use a labeler, but neatly handwritten tabs are fine too.

3. For big files, use box bottom hanging files that accommodate multiple interior file folders.

4. Leave 1/4 of file cabinet drawer space empty to allow for additions to existing files. An overly full file cabinet is hard to use. Better to buy another cabinet than try to stuff more papers into the existing one.

5. If there is flexibility in space, consider your hand dominance when placing file cabinets or boxes in relation to your desk or workspace. What’s accessible for a right-handed person might be awkward for a left-handed person.

6. Center all labels rather than staggering them laterally. This seems counter-intuitive, but it really does make for easier viewing.

7. Try to avoid a “to file” box on your desk or kitchen counter. The need for this intermediate holding area is an indication that your filing system is too complicated or inaccessible. Figure out what’s not working and correct it.

8. Keep tax files in a separate file box- clearly labeled by year. You probably won’t need to frequently access them, but when you do, it’s a relief to be able to find what you need quickly.

9. Have the proper supplies on hand and the right amount of them – most systems fail because people run out of the supplies needed to maintain the system.

10. Year end is good time to purge files and create new ones for the upcoming year. Begin to get financial information ready for tax preparation and purge on-going files.

Remember that it’s much easier to keep up than to catch up!


Just say no – it works.

Take these easy steps and you’ll see less junk mail and fewer phone solicitations.

  • Credit Reporting Industry Pre-Screening Opt-Out Hotline: Pre-Approved credit solicitations
    • Removes your contact information from the lists for pre-approved credit card solicitations of four major credit bureaus.
    • Call 1.888.567.8688 or go online at: www.optoutprescreen.com
    • You can opt out for 5 years or forever
  • Direct Marketing Association: Email and direct mail
    • Stops direct-mail and email marketing.  You can also register to get a deceased family member off lists. If you are a caretaker and need to stop mail from coming you can also register in that way.
    • There is a $1 charge to verify your credit card or checkbook identity.  The DMA regularly updates its lists thus six months may pass before solicitations from all DMA members cease.
    • Go online on at www.the-dma.org and click on “Advocacy and Guidelines” then “CSR for Consumers”.  Go to the bottom of the page to register.
  • Catalogs
    • Are you getting swamped with catalogs?  Your name has probably been turned over to Abacus, an alliance of catalog and publishing companies.  To stop individual catalogs from reaching your home, contact the specific company.
    • Call 1.888.5.OPT.OUT to stop en masse mailings or email optout@abacus-us.com
  • Non-credit offers – coupons, flyers and catalogs:
    • To remove your name from that result from Experian’s lists call 402.458.5247
  • Resident and Occupant Mailings: Go to www.DirectMail.com – a quick, free way to reduce junk mail.
  • Stop Identity Theft: Go to www.noscamnc.gov to learn how to prevent and stop identity theft.  On this site you can “lock” your credit report which would prevent anyone from opening a credit card in your name.
  • Do Not Call Registry: Call 1.888.382.1222  or go to www.donotcall.gov and register your phone number(s) or check a registration.  Solicitation calls should stop within 31 days.


“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” ~William James

When we willingly defer something even though we expect the delay to make us worse off, we’re procrastinating. (per Piers Steel)  And most of us are guilty as charged. It’s so easy to find a distraction that doesn’t demand much commitment that avoiding a demanding task or project is commonplace. But dragging our feet doesn’t make the job go away.  It only makes us feel guilty, inadequate and ultimately overwhelmed.

Procrastination has many faces.  The thrill-seeker loves the euphoric rush of waiting until the last minute. The avoider often has unrealistic expectations or a serious case of perfectionism.  The decision avoider feels that by dilly-dallying, he’s absolved of any responsibility for the outcome.

Procrastination might be a basic impulse, but it’s also bad habit. It’s costly and anxiety producing.  Failing to file taxes on time results in fines.  Late papers and projects can mean failing grades. Dithering over a decision often closes the door on options.

Here’s a procrastination conundrum:  Avoiding the onerous task doesn’t seem to make people happy.  This is what William James was talking about.  Not doing something we know needs to be done is exhausting and defeating.  In our heart of hearts, we know that “One of these days is none of these days.” Henri Tubach

So how can we overcome the tendency to dawdle?  Try better planning.  Set deadlines or have others set them for you and impose penalties for failure to comply. Expect interruptions- they’re part of life so give yourself enough time to complete the project even if the roof springs a leak or the dog goes missing.

Divide projects into smaller parts, each with better definition so the tasks are concrete and you don’t have to think about how to start.  Restrict your options.   If you need to buy a new washing machine, determine your budget. Ask two friends for recommendations.  Read several consumer reviews.  Pick one that looks good enough- no expectation of perfection. Buy the darn thing!

Will power has been compared to a muscle that can be strengthened through exercise.  Making now the time to act, paves the way for that pattern to more easily be repeated.  You can become one of those people who accomplish things in a timely fashion.  The best way to get something done is to begin.

Getting Things Done by David Allen is full of time-management tips.
“The Thief of Time” essays edited by Chrisoula Andreuo and Mark White.

by Robin McCoy