Paperwork part 1 - what to keep

27 Oct 2020

This is a long one! Surprisingly, we had lots to discuss about paperwork - what it is, why we have paper clutter and what we need to keep and not keep. And spiders - we managed to talk about spiders too... somehow...

Show Notes:

Where does paper-clutter come from and why is it there?
1. Decision-making anxiety. If you have depression, general anxiety or any mental health issues, you’ll find making decisions about what to do with paperwork difficult.
2. Not finishing things. From not putting stuff away to discarded projects.
3. Not being able to let go. Wanting to keep most paper that enters your home.
4. Collecting too much. Being an information junkie certainly contributes to paper clutter.
5. Not having a system. Your paperwork doesn’t have a proper home therefore it just goes anywhere it falls or fits.
6. Cramming your schedule. If you race from one activity to another, you probably don’t “finalise” the paperwork from your last activity.
7. Perfectionism. Fiddling about trying to make something perfect, or having an “ideal” in mind that’s unrealistic, is a great way to stop it happening altogether.
8. Indulging in too many interests. The more hobbies you have, the more stuff you’ll have. And that often includes paperwork.
9. Procrastination and avoidance.

What should you keep?
Every country (and maybe even state or county) has different laws regarding what you need to keep. Ask your appropriate government department, lawyer or accountant about your financial and other legal record-keeping requirements.

Apart from the paperwork needed for legal and taxation purposes, the rest is a personal choice.

Keep what you’re comfortable with, remembering that 80% of what we file is never used, and the less you keep the less work you have to do.

Don’t keep anything:
You can find again on the Internet or order from the originator
You kept because it was “interesting”, then forgot you even had it
You haven’t gone looking for it the whole time you’ve had it
Doesn’t fit the theme of your life as it is now
Is out of date (e.g. old warranties, brochures, price-lists, catalogues, fashion articles, etc.)
Is mostly destroyed

Some tips to reduce paper overall:
Don’t print unless you absolutely have to.
Don’t print emails – you already have a copy
Instead of printing articles you find on the internet, use a digital tool such as Evernote to take a digital copy of the file and index it for easy retrieval.
Scan and store digital copies instead of keeping hard copies.
Don’t collect paper while you’re out. Avoid brochures, catalogues and advertising materials, information sheets and other stuff as much as possible.
Put a “No junk mail” notice on your mailbox.
Elect to receive electronic copies of bills and statements rather than hard copies

Important: Set boundaries around how much ‘interesting stuff’ to keep or to ‘read later’

Reference links