What's your 'paper personality'?

If you've ever said to yourself...

"I know I'm not dealing with my household paperwork in the right way, and that I could do it better, but how do I go about making changes?"

Today's post is for you.

Even if you feel overwhelmed about taking those first steps, or keep saying to yourself 'I'll get around to organising it one day', please keep reading.

Because there’s little point trying to change your habits around dealing with paperwork without first identifying how you currently deal with it. You can then learn the right strategies to make shifts in the right direction, which will be the basis to your long-term success!

In order to identify which of the following 6 types is your ‘paper personality’, you need to read through the series of statements under each heading.

If you can relate to most, or even all of the statements under that particular Paper Personality (or even a few of the personalities!) then you’ll also discover some strategies for how to make a change.

Ready to find out which category you belong to?

THE STACKER

1. You tend to pile the daily incoming papers on your kitchen counters, table or desk

2. You have piles of paper that you’re intending to sort through [at some point!] in your home office area

3. You tend to refer to the paper piles in your home as ‘organised chaos’, because you feel like you do know, for the most part, what’s within them

4. You sometimes feel anxious or stressed about tasks you may have missed or paper you might have mislaid (i.e. forms, notices, bills)

How to make a change:
Create one central paper sorting zone, such as a command centre, to avoid paper pile-ups all over the flat surfaces of your house.

You’ll also need some sort of Daily Paper Management System to deal with your incoming paperwork. This system provides you with one clear spot and system to store and SORT your incoming paperwork into categorized action files or baskets.

Taking 5 minutes out of each day to sort and categorize your papers into trash/action/file also prevents those paper piles from building, and gets you into good habits!

Related Post: The 7 Most Common Paperwork Mistakes… and how to Solve Them

THE KEEPER

1. You tend to hold onto nearly every piece of paper that enters your home

2. You’re not sure what is safe to get rid of, so you prefer to hold onto it ‘just in case’

3. You feel secure with the fact that you’ll be able to refer back to a certain piece of information in the case of an emergency or various situations

4. You are resistant to doing any sort of paper decluttering or clear-outs, because it feels far too overwhelming to go through so many years of saved paperwork. Plus you’re not even sure what you could throw out!

How to make a change:
Firstly, you need to reduce the amount of paperwork coming into your home. Try putting a ‘no junk mail’ sign on your letterbox; signing up for online bills and statements where possible; and cancelling magazine or newspaper subscriptions that you rarely read.

Secondly, you need to learn what you can safely get rid of, what you need to hold onto, and for how long. There is really only a small amount of paperwork that you need to hold onto forever (i.e. birth and marriage certificates, wills, passports etc), and others are for a fairly limited time.

Although it is an overwhelming thought to have to sort through years of paper, if you know exactly what is safe to get rid of, it will make the process a whole lot easier.

BONUS: To help you get going in the sorting process, download your copy of The Paper Purging Guide, which details exactly what you should be keeping (and for how long) and what you can safely get rid of. Grab your free copy on the button below!

THE COLLECTOR

1. You like to print things off the Internet to refer to later - recipes, inspirational articles, parenting advice, home decorating ideas etc

2. You cut out recipes from magazines and newspapers and have stacks of them in folders or within your kitchen cupboard

3. You have large collections of kids’ school work and art pieces that you’re not sure what to do with

4. You have lots of different categories of paperwork that are causing clutter (i.e. receipts, coupons, restaurant menus, to-do lists, school info). These are either stuffed into drawers or cupboards, or cluttering up the flat surfaces of your home.

How to make a change:
First of all, consider how often you actually refer to and read those papers that you print off. In this digital age, we are inundated with information, and rarely actually read all the information that is presented to us. So it sometimes becomes more of a habit to print it out, as opposed to something you really need to do. 

You might want to set up a Pinterest account with different categories for the things you tend to ‘print and forget’ - so whether you get around to reading the article or not isn’t such a big deal. It’s time to stop collecting information that you’re not actually going to get around to taking action on or reading!

You might also consider creating an easy reference binder system for these ‘pesky’ papers.

A household binder can contain important information that you want to refer to regularly; a finance binder can be used to store current receipts or coupons; recipe binders with clear plastic sleeves can hold your favourite recipes; while a School Memory Box can be used to store your child’s art and schoolwork. Check out the links below to learn how to set these systems up!

Related Posts: Why a Household Binder is One of the Biggest Time-SaversAre You Ready to Get Your Finances Organised?; How to Organise Recipes in Binders; 5 Simple Steps to Creating a School Memory Box

THE AVOIDER

1. You can’t stand dealing with paper and paper-related tasks, so you tend to avoid it at all costs - mail remains unopened, your bill payments are often late because you don’t know when they’re due, and you have 100s (if not 1000s) of unopened emails

2. The paper piles in your home and/or office are building and you continue to claim that you’ll ‘get around to it soon’

3. You tend to stuff paper into drawers, cupboards and boxes just to get it out of sight

4. You overcomplicate the issue of where to start - you’re often unsure of how to do all the steps in a task so you avoid doing the first logical step

How to make a change:
It’s time to step up and take responsibility! You are an adult who needs to deal with these things that are part of life  - no-one else is going to do it for you, and avoiding the paper is not going to make it go away.

Get your calendar or planner out and physically schedule in some daily/weekly/monthly appointments for sorting through your paperwork backlog. Use the free guide below to decide what you should be holding onto, and what is safe to get rid of.

Create one central paper sorting zone in your home where you’ll take action on tasks. And as soon as you receive paperwork, make immediate decisions about it! If it does not need action taken on it, but you’ll need to refer to it again, either file it or put it in a binder system. If it’s of little use or irrelevant, throw it away immediately.

Related Post: How to organise the paper clutter {Inspiration}

THE FILER

1. You either have one overflowing filing cabinet in your home OR several cabinets crammed with files

2. You love to file things away, as you feel safe in the knowledge that you can refer back to it if you need to

3. Like The Keeper, you’re not sure what is safe to get rid of, so you prefer to hold onto it ‘just in case’

4. You have so many filing categories that it isn’t that easy to actually find what you’re after OR

5. Your files aren’t labelled / the labels are too broad, so it takes forever to find what you need

How to make a change:
Filing cabinets are pointless storage solutions if you can’t quickly and easily find the information you're after. The whole point of a filing system is to create clear divided categories for the paperwork we do need to hold onto, and that definitely isn’t EVERYthing that enters our house.

Be clear on the filing categories you should actually have (I’ve got a handy checklist for this which you can get by check out the related post below). A great time to give the filing cabinet a clear-out (and yes, one filing cabinet or filing system is more than enough!) is right around tax time when you need to gather all your important documents. Stay on top of it once a year, and you’ll prevent the paper piles building.

If you really do want to keep everything, you should consider going paperless and scanning the documents you want to keep within an organised digital system, such as Evernote. That way, your home isn’t overflowing with paperwork, and you can still feel content in the knowledge that you’ll be able to find it where necessary.

Related Post: How to organise paperwork at home

THE ORGANISER

1. You have clear systems for the different types of paperwork that come through your home

2. You have a command centre or central zone for where you deal with incoming paperwork

3. You are currently, or in the process of becoming, as paperless as possible i.e. you scan and store your paperwork digitally

4. The paperwork in your home has a very clear flow through your house to prevent paper build-up - an entry point, a designated place to ‘deal’ with it, and an exit point

If you’ve got all these paper systems in place, you are in a great place for staying on top of the paper that enters your home! And believe me, once you have these great systems in place and feel confident about using them, they remain relatively easy to maintain and make adjustments to when necessary.

If you’re aspiring to be more like The Organiser’, then my new program 'Making Your Paper Work'  is just what you need to help you on your journey, to become more confident and in control when it comes to dealing with paperwork. This program is designed to help you sort through that pesky paperwork once and for all!

I’ll walk you through the steps for creating great paperwork systems for your household and your family so you can feel more in control of the paperwork, rather than letting it control you.

>> Check out all the details for the Making Your Paper Work program right here! <<

Let's keep the conversation going...

I'd love to hear from you in the comments below:

  1. Which paper personality are you?
  2. What changes could you make to the way you currently deal with paperwork?