Spring Clear your Mind

Bye bye paper piles

7 ways to say bye-bye to your paper piles

Author: Helena Zachariassen, Home & Lifestyle Editor

Have you ever imagined what it would feel like to have all your papers sorted, logically organized, and easy to find? As in you would know exactly where to look for any document…preferably labeled, and for all members of the family. How amazing wouldn’t it be?

If you tidy your papers in one go, you will save time, money, as well as your sanity. Why? Because you’ll know where to find all your papers and documents as soon as you need something. When I decluttered my papers some years ago, I couldn’t believe how big of a burden fell off my shoulders. So much stress and overwhelm went down the drain instantly, and only because I had created more space in my home, mind, and in my soul. And if I could do it, you can do it too!

Did you know?
..that the average person spends at least 30 mins per day looking for misplaced items? Some people spend closer to a couple of hours each day..! 30 mins lost daily equals 182.5 hours per year, meaning we lose 22 full 8-hour workdays looking for lost things! I can think of a hundred things I’d rather spend my precious time on – you too?!

The goal is..

to let go of ALL unnecessary papers, the KonMari way. You will keep only what’s currently in use, what’s needed for a limited time, and finally what must be kept forever.

Papers have very little emotional connection to most people. They’re mostly purely practical documents that we need to keep for several reasons. The only thing that might be difficult in this category is greeting and birthday cards that you have received from people you love. I would like for you to look through them all, but remember, if they are very special to you and they truly spark joy, please keep them with your memorabilia or put them in your sentimental pile to look at later once you’re ready to take a final decision.

Declutter papers alright – but how?

You will gather ALL your paperwork in one place. Make sure you have a large space, like a big dining table, or a larger floor area so that you can really stretch yourself out because you will need that space for sorting. I also want you to know that this is one of the toughest categories to declutter, but it is also the most rewarding category. I can assure you that a lot of weight will fall off your shoulders once this is done.

#1 Tie it to your vision

A vision is an incredibly powerful tool. Take a moment to visualise your future self and ideal home. Remember what you want your dream space to look like? How do you envision yourself living in that space? What is present there, what is not? What matters most to you? If your ideal lifestyle means living with less, imagine how it will make you feel once you are done clearing this tough category.

#2 Start fresh

Start in the morning when you’re fresh and rested, and have undistracted time. Open the window, drink a lot of water because you get tired otherwise, and make sure you take breaks, but do try to do it all at once. Trust me, you want to finish it all as quickly as possible.

#3 Check your local legal requirements

Before you start, make sure to check your local tax requirements, depending on where you’re from and where you live, and how long you need to keep certain documents. This is very, very important in order for you not to discard documents you might still need at a later stage.

#4 Rule of thumb: discard everything

No, don’t worry! You will not discard everything, however, you’ll plant a seed of thought in the back of your head that you do want to get rid of as much as possible. In the end, you will be left with only 3 categories:

1. Pending documents. You will create a to-do box with all the documents that you need to action in the near future.
2. The second category is papers that you need for a limited time. These could be school papers for your kids, warranties for a year, or other currently pending projects.
3. The third category is documents that must be kept indefinitely. These could be contracts, tax papers, and marriage or birth certificates.

The three most important steps of decluttering papers are: look through each and every paper to decide if you need it or not, categorise it and file it. Finally, you will discard the rest with gratitude and relief.

#5 Helpful questions

If you feel that you have a hard time deciding on papers to keep or toss, you can ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I find or store this online instead of having a paper copy?
  • When was the last time I used this as a reference? Can I Google it instead?
  • And if I would discard it, how complicated would it be to get a new document if needed?

#6 File and store

I personally use mainly two items for storing papers. I have a to-do box, which is a sturdy magazine holder. And I have a hanging file box. You can of course choose something else that works for you or something that you already have in place that works well. The hanging file box is amazing because you have everything in one place and you can label every single folder separately. My personal go-to brand is Bigso Box of Sweden, because their products are sturdy, of high quality, and sustainable.

My Swiss Story: Spring clear your mind - bye bye paper piles
My Swiss Story: Spring clear your mind – bye bye paper piles
Pic: Helena Zachariassen

#7 Maintaining the order

How do we maintain the order once we’re done decluttering papers? If you are able to remember these four things, you will notice a big difference in your daily life:

  • Decide on a permanent home address for your incoming mail & to-do box
  • Schedule time in your diary each week to reduce the contents of the to-do box
  • Go through your mail every single day so that it doesn’t pile up around the house
  • Recycle immediately what’s not needed

Papers are a huge pain point for many. Go through them properly once and you will not regret it.

Please comment below on what your biggest paper struggle is! I’m rooting for you and I can’t wait to hear how you get on!

We’re all holistic beings whose environment reflects us and affects us. Choose wisely what you let into your home, mind and soul.

Helena Zachariassen

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