Purfylle: Stress-Free Paper Decluttering

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Stress-Free Paper Decluttering

I used to think I had to go through every last scrap of paper and sort it all perfectly. Then I wouldn't do any of it because it was such a huge job. It doesn't have to be that hard even if you have mountains of paperwork.

Declutter Paperwork the Stress-Free Way

Paper Mountain

If only...

Sure, opening the mail over the rubbish bin is a great idea to stop papers becoming clutter in the first place but what if, like me, you have so much paper work that you can measure it in hundreds of litres? (How is that even possible? It's much easier then you might imagine if you just ignore your paperwork for a decade or so.) In any case there is no point musing over if only I had opened the mail over the rubbish bin now.

Nothing to see here, it's all under control...

I've actually purged an enormous amount of paperwork already. About 2 years ago I went through and discarded paperwork that went back into the late 90's (please don't judge me).

Last week I got rid of a large box and a huge pile of paperwork that had seemed to sprout into existence on a flat surface and had been there for what seemed like forever. All of it went accept for about five pieces of paper. I was amazed I had kept so much of it for no real reason. And the annoying pile that had accumulated on a flat surface was gone. Gone!

I thought I was doing really well so I was shocked to discover how much was still left.

Oh, I forgot about that.

I pulled out 3 more boxes of paperwork and that isn't even all of the paperwork I've got stored away that needs to be sorted. *sigh*

Now, I will clarify that mixed up in those boxes is old letters and keepsakes, old research and costuming notes, crafting stuff, other odd things as well as important paperwork.

I didn't have time to go through all of it. I didn't have the motivation to sort every last little bit, but there was a document I needed to find. In fact finding this document had been weighing on my mind for quite some time and it didn't show up in last weeks sorting like I had hoped.

It's one of those important pieces of paper that you use to prove you really are a person, I'm sure it's here somewhere. I don't actually need it right now, but what if I did? I don't need it weighing on my mind any more.

I finally took the plunge and started hunting for it.

I pulled out the box I expected it to be in which was almost organised with only the odd piece of paperwork that shouldn't be in there.

As I flipped through the pile I removed anything that seemed out of place. Despite discarding loads of rubbish I found a big fat Nothing, the hunt for my document continues.

I went to the next 2 boxes trying to asses which was the more likely candidate. They were both a real mixture of stuff. Everything had got thrown in them, probably from piles off flat surfaces. Who knows when that happened?  These boxes are what your paperwork nightmares are made out of, those boxes you just really, really, reaaaally don't want to have to sort through.

I took the plunge and had it all done in about the time it takes to have a cup of tea.

Stress-Free Paper Decluttering

How to Declutter Paperwork

Categorise

As I dug through the stuff in those boxes I sorted into categories without worrying if I should keep an item or not. I kept my categories really broad, I wanted no more then 5 piles and one of those was rubbish.

1. Obvious Rubbish

If it was obviously rubbish I put it either in the rubbish bag or in the shredder for shredding as appropriate.

Stuff that wasn't obviously rubbish went into one of the other four categories. I'll talk more about what to throw out a bit later.

2. House Documents 

These are all the utility bills, mortgage documents, repair and maintenance papers. Basically anything that was to do with the house. Don't get too fussy here, if it's the insurance stuff for the car just add it to this pile.

DO NOT read every piece of paper and worry about if you should keep it or not. If it's not obviously rubbish it will fit (maybe loosely but it will fit) into one of these categories.

3. Tax Documents 

Anything that might be useful for your accountant goes into this pile including, receipts, pay summary, superannuation, health insurance etc. 

I didn't worry about which of the dozen super statements I should be keeping. That's a problem for another day. I'm looking for reduction in clutter at this stage, not perfection.

4. Keepsakes 

This pile should be all those cards from Grandma and long lost Aunty Polly, the kids finger paintings, the cute little whats-it from that great holiday and other crazy stuff you're holding onto for sentimental reasons. You already know this stuff shouldn't be in with the bills or the tax return so give it it's own pile. 

5. Everything Else

For me that was ribbon, cardboard, unused notepads, notes that are actualy useful and worth holding onto. It might be different stuff for you, but you know it shouldn't go with the other piles. 

Contain those piles

Now instead of the big mess I had I've got 5 manageable piles but what to do with them?

The house & tax documents I bundled up and put rubber bands around them.
(Yeah! Bonus decluttering of the broccoli rubber bands I'd been keeping!)

The keepsakes I put into a bag because they are all funny sizes and it was easier then trying to bundle them up with rubber bands.

Craft stuff got taken to the sewing room.
I kept only one of my sewing and research notes, and that went with the craft stuff.

Rubbish went in the rubbish bin! *gasp*

What To Toss?

More then half of the stuff in those boxes hit the rubbish. I threw out:
  • maps of the zoo from our zoo trip
  • business cards for people I didn't remember and businesses I don't use any more
  • old pamphlets 
  • failed organising folders and business card holders
  • occasion cards from long forgotten work colleagues 
  • old newspaper clippings
  • dusty old card making stuff
  • old notebooks with shopping lists with a handful of blank pages left to be used up

I threw out the stuff that I didn't have to think about:

  • Stuff without sentimental value.
  • Stuff that was no longer good enough to use because it was worn or old.
  • Stuff that used to be  relevant but isn't any more.
  • Stuff that was useful but isn't now.
  • Stuff I know isn't  important.
  • Useless stuff. 

All Done

It Was Stress Free!

Because there were no big 'Should I? Shouldn't I' decisions today, just categorise or toss. If it ends up in the wrong category it really isn't a big deal.

Finding Paperwork Is Easier!

I put the contained piles and bag of keepsakes back into one of the boxes so I would know where to look for them next time.

When I do need to find a document I will have 2 specific piles to look through and I won't be sifting through craft stuff, keepsakes and old pamphlets to get to them.

Simplified Future!

By aggregating the tax and house document and putting a rubber band around them it's made my next decluttering session much easier. If When I get around to it I'll tell you how I tackled it.

I'll also be able to put my hands on the tax stuff come tax time.

Reduced Clutter!

What I've managed to achieve today is to reduce the paper pile by well over half. A whole box less! Yay!

Found What I Was Looking For!

I also found my document and another one I had forgotten I was looking for.



This was the least stressful paperwork  decluttering I've ever done.

Do you need to declutter your paperwork? Go make a cup of tea and see how much you can get through while you drink it.





Featured at:
How To Get Organized At Home

11 comments:

  1. Minimizing stuff to only the essentials really can be liberating!

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    1. You are so right! I know it, I've lived it, so how did I get so cluttered? *shakes head*

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  2. Great Post!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things Link Party! I hope you come back tomorrow and share some more...I love having you!! Pinned!

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    1. Thanks for dropping past and for hosting =D

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  3. What a great post! Thanks for sharing on Monday Madness link party! Hope to see you there next week :)

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  4. Thanks for sharing on Monday Madness last week :) When Monday Madness opens in a few hours you will have a nice surprise so be sure to check it out :)

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  5. Girl, you're going great guns! Get it!
    I'm proud of you!
    For some reason this ding dong form wouldn't ever let me comment as purpleslob. Is it predjudiced against slobs??? I think I'll organize a riot.

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    1. Now that is strange. I've only had one other person ever say they couldn't comment and that was fixed straight away. I wonder why it won't let you? It must be because blogger recognises your g+ profile, do you have a g+ page for purpleslob? I bet that would fix it and get your posts seen more too, your currently set to private I think on g+.

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  6. Aha, I need to go to G=+ and figure that out. I would if I knew how!!
    Trying as PS again. We'll see if it goes thru. Nope. openID credentials couldnt be verified.
    Here I am as me again.

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  7. I think it was about three years ago that I went through my piles of paper. When you're done it's like a huge weight is lifted and your mind gets clear.I keep the paper clutter at bay using the one touch rule. LOL Don't ask me about the rest of my stuff - especially my yarn and craft supplies.

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    1. I have to admit I haven't really looked at sorting through paper work again since writing this. Although I did discard a lot of hang files full of booklets and info I can now find online.

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