Want Less Junk Mail?
Go to the Direct Marketing Associations Web site, dmaconsumers.org, and register for its do not send list. Credit bureaus also offer a toll-free number (888-567-8688) that lets you opt out of having preapproved credit offers sent to you.
Get Rid of Paper Clutter
Feel like youre buried under an avalanche of paper? Follow these five steps to get the clutter under control and save a few trees in the process
Deal With Paper Right AwayThe number one mistake people make is just dumping mail or other papers wherever they happen to be standing, says Donna Smallin, author of Cleaning Plain & Simple. When a piece of paper comes into your house, make a decision instantly about what to do with it, she advises. Toss the junk mail, then put bills that need to be paid into one folder or stacking tray and anything that needs to be filed into another one. Each week, go through these folders or trays, paying the bills and then moving everything into the appropriate files.
Save the Information, Not the PaperScraps of paper with bits of information written on them not only add to the clutter, they also make it difficult for you to find the information when you need it. Whenever you go to write something down, put it where you can easily find it, says Smallin. Put it in your computer or in one small spiral notebook.
When you order anything online, dont bother printing out the confirmation page just copy the order number into your computer or notebook. Rather than keep an entire magazine when you just want to read one article, clip the article and file it away.
Go PaperlessThe best way to avoid paper clutter is just by not having it in your house in the first place. You can cut down on a lot of the paper by moving things to your computer, says Tara Aronson, author of Mrs. Clean Jeans Housekeeping With Kids. If you get multiple newspapers, try reading some of them online. Cancel your catalogs and go right to the Web site it will have the most up-to-date information anyway.
You can also see and pay all your credit card bills online, says Smallin. Its actually safer than paying by check, because anyone can get hold of your mail. Dont worry about not having a paper trail you have up to three years to ask the bank to send you a statement.
Clear the ClutterIf youre sitting on top of a mound of paper, your first step is to figure out just how much of it you actually need to keep. Collect all your paper together in one room with four big boxes, says Joyce Anderson, author of Help, Im Knee-Deep in Clutter! Conquer the Chaos and Get Organized Once and for All. Label the boxes with these tags: To File, To Pay, To Recycle and To Shred. Then start sorting.
Be realistic. Newspapers older than a day or magazines more than three months old should get tossed, says Anderson. Put coupons in a small box, organized by the month they expire. That way you can easily go through them before a shopping trip and then toss the ones that are expired, she says.
Organize Your FilesOnce you have decided which papers you want to keep, move them into file folders. The key to filing is to have enough files so that everything has a place, says Smallin. Yet you dont want to make them so specific that each file only holds one or two pieces of paper.
Aronson recommends organizing your files into color-coded categories. Most people deal with four or five types of paperwork financial, home, household, leisure and home business, she says. Giving each category its own color green for financial, for example makes it much easier to both file and find things. Go vertical as much as possible flat surfaces are clutter creators. Use stacking trays only for the bills and papers waiting to be paid or filed, says Aronson.