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The Declutter Challenge | Week 3 – Paper

Author: Lauren Coleman

Whether it be through online statements and bills, switching to a web based magazine subscription or opting out of junk mail lists, I’m sure over the past few years many of you have cut down on the amount of paper you bring in to the home.

I too have done all of the above but I still seem to acquire a whole load of paper and so this week I’m on a mission to declutter my office.

If you do a quick search around the internet for ‘mail organisation’ it could be assumed we all need a ‘family command center’. And yes I’m keeping the american spelling of this concept in there as it’s clearly an approach favoured by our friends across the pond.
If you’re not familiar with this idea it’s basically a central hub in the home where all organisation takes place; a designated area where all mail resides in pretty labelled baskets, the weekly schedule and to-do lists etched out on a blackboard and some even have hooks for school bags and a space for binders housing exceptionally important information. This all seems a bit hard-core for my house. James and I sync our gmail calendars so there’s no need for a paper planner, neither of us go to school so there’s no call for a backpack hook and the same goes for binders. However the more I think about it I realise a few stylish industrial style wire baskets would be helpful additions, and you never need to convince me about the benefits of a blackboard.

Rather than shred confidential waste I burn it on the fire. I recycle most envelopes (but always get confused about the plastic window. Can you recycle it?) and then the rest just hangs about waiting to be dealt with. It’s probably worth mentioning if you want to rid yourself of unsolicited mail you can sign up to an opt-out service.
I’ve really managed to talk myself into the idea of having a few strategically placed baskets for post. Maybe one for bills and the like, and the other for more general mail. I’m hoping it would make it easier to find the White Company brochure. I sense a little project coming on in my hallway.

The other issue I need to tackle is receipts. You see I have mountains of them, way over the recommended two years. I store them all in a rather vibrant pink box from Ikea, not dissimilar to the ones featured in our image slider above. I’d love to tell you all I go through them on a monthly basis and log them all in a handy spreadsheet, but I don’t. As I experienced the joy of completing my tax return at the weekend I realised I need a more conspicuous storage method as at the moment it’s very much out of sight, out of mind. Perhaps I need a more organised approach with colour coded dividers, or perhaps something more visible such as a glass jar? I have used apps in the past which scan receipts and create a digital version but I prefer a tangible paper copy myself.

Otherwise my office is fairly organised. My shelves and cupboards are crammed full of craft supplies sorted into individual boxes and I use ikea spice racks to store office essentials. I also use a mesh wastepaper bin to keep all my wrapping paper in one place and various dishes, pots and plates to store the necessities.

If you want to see one super stylish and exceptionally organised office then take a look at yesterday’s post. If you missed it Mrs O’Shea shared her utterly gorgeous workspace. I have serious studio envy. Anyway back to the question in hand, please do share how you keep your receipts, mail and other paperwork in check? Do you have any tips or stylish storage recommendations for keeping on top of the paper mountain?

Image sources | Green & white paper files | Boxes in shades of pink | Command centre with black baskets | Family command centre with white shelves.

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Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
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15 thoughts on “The Declutter Challenge | Week 3 – Paper

  1. I feel like I have a weekly struggle with paper. I have just clicked on your link above to stop unwanted junk mail, I didn’t know about this service but sounds great! My husband is a farmer and we move to the farmhouse this summer, so can envisage being drowned in paperwork at the kitchen table (my mother in law’s kitchen table is covered in invoices, farming press, letters, bills etc at all times. In fact most farmhouse kitchen tables are) and I must find a way to prevent this! The farm office is in a wee room just off to the side of the kitchen, so when we move in I hope to enforce a “straight into the office” policy with post – whether the hubby actually does it will be another question, but that’s the plan! I reckon for a business, we’ll probably need several trays as you suggest for bills to be paid, letters/invites to respond to etc. Probably will last approximately one week.

  2. We moved into our dinky little cottage in November, which has two bedrooms and no built in storage apart from under the stairs, which the door opens from the back, not the side. The man who used to live here had an entire working office in there! Where the slope was, he fitted a shelf with another slide out one underneath, had a folding chair, and hence a pull out desk! He kept his printer, laptop, filed, etc etc in there, it was amazing!

    And then we moved in. And now there are twenty boxes in there, full of books. One day, hopefully in the not too distant future, I’ll bring it back to its former glory, only better. With pink, white and gold accessories! Once we’ve sorted through our two small filing cabinets and condensed into one, we’ll put that under the desk, and it’ll be our command centre, but it’ll never be called that! It’ll be ‘The Office’!!

    Once this has happened I’ll do all those insanely organised things I want to do, like scan all our important documents and put them on external hardrives, along with our photos, and other stuff. That’s when I’ll know I’ve arrived! Day to day, I really just find that the ‘handle each piece of post once’ rule, where it’s opened and filed or dealt with straight away seems to works pretty well for us. That and a big folder organised into the usual stuff so it’s to hand- a year to date page of when big payments go out and due dates of things (tv licence, home insurance, boiler service, car insurance, etc), contact details for emergency people (home insurance, gas man, spark, garage, etc), and that years/most current bills and contracts (council tax, gas, electricity, Sky, etc). That way, if something breaks down or a weird payment goes out, we have the numbers and customer references to sort it out with minimum fuss. In an ideal world, as they renew, I’ll scan and shred the old contracts as they get replaced, instead of bunging it in a filing cabinet ‘just in case’!!

    I don’t have to worry about receipts as I’m not self employed, but if it were me who had to do a tax return with them but knew I’d never keep on the ball every week, I think I’d stick to the pink box idea! Out of sight, out of mind is sometimes just the best policy!!

    1. I have to admit Faye, reading about your previous owner’s office made me a bit giddy. When I was little I used to have the box room at home and for some reason desperately wanted a desk. There was no room in my bedroom so my dad turned the understairs cupboard into an office for me. I’m feeling very nostalgic now!

      You seem very organised on the payment front. I could do with taking a leaf out of your book.

  3. Currently reading Marie Kondo’s book on tidying – her approach is to get rid of all papers other than the few 100% absolutely needed (like rental agreements etc). Can’t say I’ve reached that point but it’s at least making me reassess what papers I actually need to keep rather than my current approach of keeping everything (including bank statements 5 years old etc).

    1. I think I’ve got statements from flats I lived in ten years ago Anna! Will have to have a read of Marie Kondo’s book.

  4. Ah Lauren how I wish you could come and organise all my paperwork into wire baskets! There’s enough of it to keep you going for about 6 months…!

    On the receipts front, a good tip someone once gave me was to use a restaurant cheque spike. Stick receipts on it, hey presto, they stay in order and compact (but not out of sight) until you force yourself to file them away… great idea. No idea where you’d get one from though…

    1. This is a smashing idea Karina. Just looking on Etsy to see if I can find myself a fancy one. Will let you know how I get on! x

  5. I have a fool proof method with my filing. I have a letter holder and I leave to fill up and wait for my husband to get so annoyed with it that he files it away for me ha ha! As a PA I do so much organisation at work that I just can’t face doing it at home too. I realised recently that I have almost every payslip I have ever earned since I was 17!!! Do I need them?!!

  6. We just re-organised our spare room/office. We moved into the flat late last year and I was keen to keep the paper situation under control. We’ve invested in some lovely white furniture to keep to clean and now everything has it’s place – which is what we were missing before. Paperwork was stored all over the place!
    I’ve also started a ‘cr*p’ box for all my husband’s paperwork. He tends to leave it here there and everywhere, so when I do the weekly clean, I pick up all his paperwork along the way and put it in the box to sort out. I then put my paperwork in a pile throughout the week in the spare room and file it away every weekend.
    Destroying paperwork was the bane of my life – hacking up bank statements and payslips with scissors, but now we have a shredder and it’s the best thing ever….!

    1. Jo, you are so good! I wish I could get my head round filing on a weekly basis. Loving that everything has a place in your new office.

    1. These look very useful and very pretty too! I haven’t bought anything from the Holding Company before so I must take a look x

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