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10 Easy Steps To Reduce Your Piles of Paper

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Feel like you're drowning in paper? Between the junk mail, payment confirmations, bill statements, donation requests, and family correspondences, your home can look like it was hit by the paper tornado. Try these 10 easy steps to reduce the paper in your home.

1. Automate.
Sign up to make payments online. Companies will continue to send statements to your home, but now these statements can be easily filed without worrying about forgetting to pay.

2. Access the Trash.
Open incoming mail over the trash. Standing over the trash as you open mail, gives you easy access to the best place for junk mailings, outer envelopes, and any other paper clutter.

3.File It.
Find a filing cabinet and divide your important papers into categories. File incoming papers after opening the mail. Things that need attention or action can be place in the appropriate spot in the mail center (see below.)

4. Contain the Memories.
Create a place for paper memories. Youth artwork, birthday cards, and other memories need their own storage. Consider giving each family member a container to store memories. Once the container is full they may have to make choices about what to keep and what to throw out.

5. Evaluate Your Subscriptions.
Do you pay for multiple magazine and news subscriptions that you never get around to reading? Maybe you put them on the end table thinking you will find time to read them, but before you know it you have a stack as high as the ceiling to “get to.” Keep only the subscriptions you read on a regular basis. Consider donating magazines to a seniors center or shelter after you've read them.

6. Create a Mail Station.
Create a centralized place with stamps, pens, envelopes, paper, and slots to sort incoming and outgoing mail. Keeping all of the supplies together means you will be able to find them more easily when they are needed.

7. Have a Message system.
When the phone rings or visitors drop by, many people scrounge for the nearest scrap piece of paper to write message information on. If your address book looks like a pile of torn paper, it may be time to create a new message taking system. Have one place in your home where a pencil and a notepad are always available. Post messages in the same place every time so household members know where to look for their messages. Keep a household address book near the phone to take down permanent information in.

8. Cut the coupons.
Do you have a drawer full of unused expired coupons? It can be great to cut coupons and save money. But if you cut them, use them. Keep the coupons in a regular spot so that they can be easily accessed for a trip to the grocery store.

9. Regulate collections regularly.
Update your files, tossing outdated information yearly. Get rid of items you do not need to create room for the next year’s flood of paperwork.

10. Get rid of receipt mania.
Receipts kept for tax purposes can be filed under the appropriate heading. For those people who like to track all of their expenses, create a receipt "dropping point" that will temporarily hold the receipts until your weekly session of adding and evaluating them.

The key to cutting back on paper problems in your home is to reduce the incoming paper and then to create regular places to store the necessities that find their way to your door. Whether you toss it or file it, it won't find its way to a pile anymore.

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