8 Minutes to Paper Peace
B A S
I C 8 ’ S
Pockets of chaos abound when it comes to paper. Let’s
continue to rout them out, including those pesky cash receipts,
your beloved briefcase, and those ubiquitous tax receipts from
years past that clog every home.
Simplify Your Banking
If you own a computer, it behooves you to learn how to access
both your checking and your credit card accounts electronically.
After you set up your online access and get comfortable with
the process, you can make payments and check your balance in
no time. Have your statement and bills sent by e-mail and save
a tree—as well as reduce paper clutter. I bet you never
realized how many options you had to save trees and clutter.
Find a New Home for Income Tax Receipts
Do you have a four-drawer file cabinet but it is full of tax backup
material? Uncle Sam does require that you save certain receipts
for an extended period, but the best place to store this material
is in boxes you can shove to the back of your office supply closet.
Your file cabinet is meant to make current information available
to you at a moment’s notice.
First separate the actual tax returns from the backup material.
(As time goes by, you will be able to shred or recycle the backup
material. Uncle Sam doesn’t require you to keep them forever.)
If possible, store the returns themselves in a fireproof metal
box. Put the backup material in a cardboard box, label the box
clearly, and then find a spot suitable for long-term storage.
If you are a homeowner, you might place a four-drawer metal file
cabinet in your garage just for tax material and anything else
you might want to archive (such as home remodel records and work
projects). Be sure the cabinet locks and designate a spot for
Streamline Your Briefcase
I don’t want you to stop using your briefcase, laptop bag,
or tote bag for work, but I do want you to spend 8 minutes cleaning
it out. Try to boycott the use of your briefcase or bag as a
lunch box, trash can, file cabinet, or Staples outlet. When I
clean out briefcases for my clients, I typically end up with
a pile of items that belong elsewhere, such as the following:
• Stale gum, candy bars, health food bars, tea bags,
and fast food items such as ketchup or sugar
• Papers from projects long completed or abandoned
• More office supplies than a room full of executives
could use in an afternoon
• Convention premiums that will never be used
Make it a habit to clean out your briefcase regularly. You never
know when one of those mustard packets will decorate one of your
important papers! Avoid the risk.
Check Your Office Supplies
You don’t want to be in the middle of a project and discover
that you need a paper clip or highlighter. Are your backup supplies
handy? Take a minute to see whether you need to add such critical
items as copy paper, fax paper, and printer cartridges to your
Likewise, when you overbuy supplies, you waste space and money.
Gather what you know you will never use and find a friend, colleague,
or family member who will use them—donate or toss the rest.
Remember, Sharpies, highlighters, and pens dry up eventually,
and your stash may be defunct when you are finally ready to use
it. The next time you’re moved to take advantage of a sale,
ask yourself if you are being penny wise but pound foolish.
Unsubscribe Your Way to Freedom
When you’re at the computer, why not reexamine your need
to receive the glut of newsletters, catalogs, and sale updates
you are currently subscribed to? Just because you once had an
interest in clothing from the XYZ store doesn’t mean you
have to stay in touch with them forever. Spend 8 minutes a day
until you have finished unsubscribing to sites that no longer
interest you. You’d be surprised how this will lighten
the load in your inbox.