Originally Posted by Climbergirl
Do you guys keep all this stuff in folders or do some of them go into binders or scanned electronically? I am really liking the idea of having most of this stuff on my computer (and backup drive!) so that the amount of paper running around is minimal.
We have one lateral file drawer at the bottom of an Ikea custom cabinet (the upper cabinet holds all our office supplies and has doors). I have the hanging file folders for each main topic, such as Bank, Medical, Receipts, Taxes, etc. Within each hanging folder, I have a file folder for each company/category/person (depending on the main topic). I don't keep a whole lot of paper stuff, so it fits easily and is easy to manage. Just takes a few minutes each week when I do the family finances.
I don't bother scanning stuff because the time it takes to scan it and organize it on the computer and then manage it (saving/retrieving/deleting) as needed takes me a lot longer than just putting the piece of paper in the drawer.
When DH or I purchase something online or receive electronic bills, we don't bother printing those out. We have a place to save those in our respective email programs (if received via email) or a file elsewhere for easy retrieval when/if needed. All of our computers get backed up regularly in several ways.
You may want to think about this issue in reverse to truly wrap your head around the big picture. Where is all the paper coming from? Why is it such a big issue in your life? What is your daily/weekly/monthly routine regarding paper? Once the backlog is taken care of, do you have an EASY, DOABLE routine/solution for keeping it current and never developing a backlog again? How much time do you have to devote to a routine? Does your plan meet your time availability? (No need to answer here; just some food for thought.)
I recommend a multi-prong approach to truly solve the paper dilemma:
1) Remove yourself from as many mailing lists as possible. Keep the unwanted stuff from ever entering your life. Take the time to make the phone calls required. I promise you it is worth it!
2) Think about the points of entry for paper into your life. How often do you get the mail? Do your kids bring stuff home from school? Who else contributes to the paper influx? DO YOU HAVE A CENTRAL PLACE TO HANDLE IT ALL???
3) Work on systems to process the paper as soon after it enters your home as possible. Whoever physically walks it inside should get rid of the fluff instantly and then place the important part in the holding spot for when it can be properly handled. Anything that CAN be handled right then, DO IT.
4) Set aside regular time to handle the paper that cannot be handled immediately. Take it through to completion (shredding or filing or recycling/trash) each time or as often as possible. Don't pile stuff for "later". Even if you only have time to do a few items, do those few all the way to getting rid of the paper (scan and toss, if that is your plan, or file it away).