Decluttering: Drowning In Paperwork

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am decluttering and minimizing our living space, as well as getting ready for our new bundle of joy, who will be here in less than two months! Time slows for no one, my friends  🙂

One of the projects I have been working on has been the accumulation of paperwork. Specifically paperwork that was shoved into this beautiful but handy file box:

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Guys, this thing was filled to the brim with paper. Stapled paper, paper-clipped paper, paper that was at one time important, but now, not so much. When I first purchased this file box about 5 or 6 years ago, I had it super organized. File folders detailing exactly what was nesting inside each folder. Folders that were listed in alphabetical order, because that is how I roll.

But somehow over the past few years, with moving to Oregon and then back to California all in the space of 14 months, this folder began to become a “catch-all” for ANY kind of paperwork, whether it belonged in this file folder or not. Even after being back home for over two years now, this file box was still a hot mess.

Time to act.

So I took everything out. Every last bit of paper. And let me tell you, there was a lot of it.

Ah, beautiful empty box…

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I wish I could say that I was able to finish this project in an afternoon or even one whole day, but that simply was not the case. Working on any sort of project when you are in your 3rd trimester of pregnancy, gets tiring pretty quickly. But I kept at it.

I decided what paperwork was important and utilized my current file folders to accommodate these items. What I deemed important enough to have a file folder for:

  • Tax Stuff
  • Automobile
  • Medical
  • Apartment (Lease agreement, etc..)
  • Pet (Important paperwork regarding our cat)
  • My Daughter (Certain in-school projects that I have decided to hold onto. We do not keep all art projects she has made or all homework tests where she scored well. We keep a few important things that we think she will appreciate when she is older and that is it)

Once I decided what to keep, the paperwork items went into their appropriate folders, alphabetically of course!

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Everything that was not going back into this folder box, got shredded, thrown in the trash, or recycled, when applicable. This part took a looooong time. I wasn’t annoyed by the longevity of the project in terms of the discarding and sorting. But it made me realize that we humans are literally drowning in paperwork and it also made me really want to limit the amount of paperwork that actually makes its way past our front door. I am really going to make a concerted effort, along with my husband, to try to curtail the paper that seems to flow like water into our lives. Even something like asking for a receipt to just be emailed to me instead of giving me a paper receipt.

Because here’s the thing: I do not want to do this project again. Like, ever. Even though I have a degree in procrastination (I jest, but it seems like it sometimes), I am making it a priority to deal with paperwork as soon as possible. No more letting it pile up on the counter. No more shoving it off to the side to deal with it “later”, whenever that is…

What I like about this decluttering project is that it didn’t cost me a dime. I already had a file box and file folders, so no extra purchases of those items. The only “cost” was just my time, which was a bummer but at least this project is done.

If you are looking to declutter and organize your paperwork and feel like it is all just too overwhelming, start slow. You don’t have to do it all in one day. I certainly didn’t. Think about what papers are important to you to keep. What paperwork is going to matter a few months from now and what isn’t. Is every receipt necessary? It is definitely a process, but remember the end goal: peace of mind and being able to lay your hands on papers of importance within seconds.

Any tips on decluttering paperwork that you want to share? Let me know!  🙂

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11 thoughts on “Decluttering: Drowning In Paperwork

  1. I take pictures of paperwork like my son’s IEPs and store them in the cloud. It’s so much easier to just group them into albums in case I need them rather than keeping the actual paper.

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  2. The amount of paper you dealt with was significant … but nothing close to what I’ve had to deal with. I waited for years – no – decades longer than you did though. I say good for you for getting to it when it was only one box full. I hope you succeed in taking care of your paper as it comes from here on in.

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  3. I need to do this too. I just stuff important paperwork in a drawer and say I’ll deal with sorting later. And never, ever do. There is plenty of old paperwork that could be tossed, important paperwork that is scattered and at risk of being lost, so it’s really an important task. But like you, I also have a degree in procrastination. I say tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. 😀 I’m at least trying to do better with the mail that comes in. Sort it right away and toss the junk in the garbage versus letting it sit on the dining room table. Some days I do better than others!

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  4. LOL, like Ruth I have a significant amount of paper in my life!! I work on it when I can but it is a constant work in progress. SO jealous of your beautiful, empty box!! Great job, Mackenzie!!

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