Paper, full of wonderful possibilities and opportunities. For you, the beauty of paper may be in the printed word or the information it imparts (this includes photos). It may also be the texture, the feel beneath your fingers, that draw you in and makes it difficult to let go. It may also pile up to become paper clutter.
Paper, in all its forms (mail, flyers, notes, photos, books, newspaper, magazines, note cards, stationary) is one of the most commonly mentioned clutter issue. It's no wonder it clutters up our spaces and our lives. There is so much paper coming at you today and it requires a decision to move it forward.
Read it? (information you need?)
Take action? (what? when?)
File it? (keep it? where? how long?)
Let go of it? (recycle, trash, pass it on)
Each piece of paper is a decision to make. Think about the small space that paper takes up. A ream of paper is 500 decisions to make in a 2" high pile. A banker's box holds six reams or 3000 decisions. So forgive yourself if you're feeling overwhelmed just thinking about going through your pile of papers.
Think about and try these organizing solutions:
Is your paper system based on your life 20 years ago?
How many of you grew up and spent most of your reading life pre-internet? Maybe your attachment to your papers is tied to the fact that as you grew up, having information was based on keeping that information at hand in the form of newspapers, magazines, books, articles, pamphlets & scraps of paper.
If you can easily find that information some place else, let go of the paper. In this age of Internet access, where newspapers, magazines and reliable information sources are a few keystrokes away, move your information system into the present day and let go of the paper form where you can.
MAGAZINES & NEWSPAPERS
When will you read those back issues?
Magazines, newspapers and the information they contain are old after 6 editions. Let go of daily newspapers if you haven't read them in 6 days. The same applies to weekly magazines; recycle anything you have older than 6 weeks. Monthly magazine and articles you haven't read or taken action on in 6 months - let them go! This is called the Rule of 6. There's more information coming in, so focus on the Present.
If the back issues are so important to you, then schedule more time to read. It's your space, your time, and your choice. How do you want to spend it? In the Past? Or in the Present?
If your goal is to collect and hold on to all your magazines and newspapers for that future possibility that someone, somewhere might find your old editions invaluable, you must decide whether you prefer to live in the Present or the Future.
SCHEDULE IT and MAKE IT SOCIAL
When will you take the time to clear away the piles?
You don't have to be relegated to the back corner by yourself to make progress on the paper clutter that is piling up - make it social and join a Paperwork "Freedom" Party.
I also host other events that can help, such as Closet Clearing parties (register for the next party at squareup.com/market/dhucks/closet-clearing-party).