It's Friday and you walk into your home, ready for a relaxing weekend after one hell of a workweek, and you see... ugh, clutter. You think to yourself, "Wasn't this place clean just last weekend?"
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Or maybe it's been longer. The object is, at one point (at least when you moved in) your home was tidy, and now it's not. But every epidemic has a source and I have a theory that paper clutter is to blame. Mail happens whether we like it or not and — maybe because of a busy afternoon or arms full with grocery bags you tried to carry in all at once — it gets dropped and forgotten. Those piles of paper collect, breaking the unbroken vista of a once-spotless tabletop or counter top. The piles attract half-full drinking glasses and toys and tools and cords and — whoops — now you have a clutter problem.
No more! Let's take this weekend to attack the problem.
This Weekend's Assignment:
Sort through your paper clutter.
It's a good time of year to handle this task, as you probably have very important tax documents (that you'll need very soon) hiding in those paper piles.
Walk around your home and scoop up all of the stacks of paper into a single bag or box. Then sit down in a spot where you have some room to work (the floor is a good option) and start to sort everything into three piles:
- To File: Anything you need to keep—whether long-term, like a letter from your employer, or short term, like a receipt for the shirt you're not sure about yet.
- To Shred: Paper that you don't need to keep, but that has potentially sensitive information on it, like financial details, that requires shredding. Handle this right away, even if your method is tearing it up by hand (I swear by these scissors).
- To Recycle: Everything else. Dump it into the recycling bin right now.
Sometime this weekend, take your "to file" pile and file it away. The long term stuff should have a permanent home in a filing box or cabinet. For the short term stuff, grab a tray or basket and keep it on hand for a while. Make a point to sort through your tray or basket once a week or once a month to discard anything that's outlived its usefulness.
Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we've sent you, or tackle another project you've been meaning to get to. It's also completely okay to skip a weekend if you're busy or not feeling the assignment.