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Simple Ways to Control your Paperwork

by Colleen P Moyne (Colmo) (follow)
I'm a freelance writer living in the beautiful river town of Mannum in SA, dreaming of the day I can retire from the 9-5 to write full time.
Life Skills (425)      Change (143)      Motivation (132)      Control (58)      Action (37)      Problem Solving (34)      Organisation (20)     

Bills, Paperwork, Control Paperwork
Courtesy of dartbookkeeping.com

I don’t think there would be anyone reading this who could honestly say they have complete control over the paperwork that comes through their household. Dealing with letters, cards, bills, junk mail, kid’s artwork, certificates, contracts, warrantees, newspapers, magazines, etc. is an ongoing nightmare.

One of the biggest problems we face is the ever-increasing piles of junk mail that land in our letterbox. On one occasion I counted fifty-seven pieces in two days. While I would occasionally flip through some of them, I ditched most of them straight into the outside recycle bin on the way back from the letterbox without opening them. Consequently I now have a ‘No junk mail’ sign. Let’s face it – store catalogues are designed to encourage us to spend. If I want to know the specials at a particular store, I’ll pick up a catalogue from their front counter or look online.

So what about everything else? While I could never profess to having mastered the problem, there are a few things I do that help.

Here’s what works for me:

• I receive most of my bills by email and pay by B-Pay.

• Paper bills that have been paid, any receipts, warrantees, contracts, etc. go into a suspension file in my desk drawer. (You can also buy plastic portable suspension file boxes that fit neatly into a small cupboard space.)

• New paper bills waiting to be paid or things that need to be actioned are clipped with a small bulldog clip into my diary.

• Once a year around tax time I cull some of the old papers to keep them somewhat under control. The general rule here in Australia is to keep three years’ worth.

• Anything I want to get rid of is shredded or tossed straight into the recycling.

Bills, Paperwork, Control Paperwork
Courtesy of truthdig.com

• The only newspaper I buy is the weekly local one and when I’ve finished reading it, it goes in a box to be used for lighting the fire, or into the recycling. I get my news from radio, TV or the internet.

• I don’t buy magazines but sometimes pick up cheap ones at garage sales or op shops if an article catches my eye. If I was into celebrity news (which thankfully I’m not), I can find gobs of it on the internet. I pass the magazines on to the local hospital or recycle them.

• Certificates, letters, school projects and special artwork from my kids when they were young are all kept in folders (the ones with plastic sleeves) in my bookshelf. I also keep a small ‘memory’ box - about the size of a large shoebox - in the cupboard to contain sentimental things from my past.

• Cards and postcards are given to the local school or recycled. Christmas cards are stored away with the decorations in January. When they are brought out again in early December, it’s easy to see who sent what and what they wrote. It’s good to look back on them and then the grandkids (or the local school) can use them for making Christmas crafts.

• Kid’s artwork is a tricky one. As I said earlier, I’ve kept a few special and sentimental ones from when my children were young, but what about the huge paintings and constructions the grandkids bring home from Kindergarten every week? My solution is to display paintings and pictures on my fridge, and for each new one that comes in, one older one has to go.

Bills, Paperwork, Control Paperwork
Courtesy of beafunmum.com

• Some other ideas for kids paintings or pictures could be:

• Save large paintings to use as wrapping paper – looks very cool and unique.

• Laminate special artworks and turn them into placemats the kids can use when they come to visit.

• Keep a special picture frame on the wall for displaying kids’ artwork. Choose one with any easy clip-on back that makes it easy to replace the picture regularly.

• Store them in a ring binder and make a book out of them. Let the children make up the story to go with the pictures. As new pictures come in and old ones go out, the story changes.

• Scan them and store them on your computer or a memory stick, or photograph them.

My methods don’t suit everyone and may not solve every paperwork problem, but hopefully I’ve got you thinking about what might work for you.

# Life Skills
# Change
# Motivation
# Control
# Problem Solving
# Action
# Organisation
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Colmo - you are doing are lot better than me. I love the picture of the shredder...

Seems like you've got a great system! :):)

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