Creating A System To Control Paper Clutter In Your Home — That Works!

“I have so much paperwork. I’m afraid my paperwork has paperwork.”

Gabrielle Zevin, author 😂

As a medical spouse, you are likely managing most of the household. That means you pay your bills, file tax docs, and sign those permission slips for your kids.

Papers are  E V E R Y W H E R E  in your home. And it’s a leading cause of STRESS‼️ The chaos will cost you not only inner peace, but also time and money as well. If you let paper overcome you, you will pay late fees, hunt for information, and miss your appointments.

And that is no way to live.

Think about this:

Just the same as an Olympic athletic wants a gold medal, or a job applicant wants to get the job — you want a paper clutter-free home.

What differentiates all of these people is what habits they have do to get to their goal!

In other words, it’s not the outcome that we need to focus on. It’s the system that is put into place.

Your habits are the way you embody an identity. So if you’re the type of person who handles paper clutter every day, you become a person who is free of paper clutter.

That’s all there is to it!

So let’s focus on  S Y S T E M S.

Let me explain a system that WORKS for the DocWife.com household from which you can take away a tip or two.

Prevent Paper From Coming In

It comes down to this: if it has a digital format, I’m in!!

For example:

    • Bills paid online
    • Statements downloaded from your online account
    • Taxes filed electronically
    • Invoices paid by Venmo, Zelle, Quikbook, or PayPal instead of mailing a check
    • Manuals, 401k/403b fund selections, warranties looked up online

Manage Existing Paper

Every week, a pile accumulates in our home. I grab ALL the paper that exists in the entire house and then separate everything into 4 piles:

  1. Take Action
  2. Scan
  3. Throw away
  4. Save

1. Take Action

I put this pile on top of my desk and make sure we ADDRESS THEM immediately.

Examples:

  • Bills
  • Forms to sign
  • Save The Dates
  • RSVPs
  • Appointments

2. Scan

Some documents should be saved and filed in a cabinet. These can be organized alphabetically, by client, or project — up to you.

Examples:

  • Medical bills
  • Tax documents

3. Throw Away

I’m a fan of the “touch once” method.

On my way back from the mailbox, I head immediately to the trashcan. My poor junk mail never gets the chance to even land on my kitchen counter 😂

Examples:

  • Junk mail
  • Take out menus
  • Church bulletins
  • Magazines
  • Mountains of medical journals (the bane of every medical family’s existence) 😂

If my husband only needs to read one article in a medical journal, he tears it out and throws the rest away.

4. Save

Papers I want to save don’t necessarily need to be scanned but they do need to go permanently into the file cabinet:

  • Warranties
  • Insurance policies
  • Medical licenses

Again, can be organized alphabetically, by client, or project — up to you.

I also save holiday cards, wedding invitations, and notes that are special. For these, I use a binder clip to group papers like holiday cards from 2016, 2017, 2018, etc. to keep them together. I then store these in a nice brown kraft box from Michaels.

Artwork

Turns out, our Kid #1 is a prolific artist. His school has even asked us to donate printer paper because he is responsible for using most of the school’s supply lol!

Here’s what I do for artwork:

I take a pic of his artwork using the Google scan app on my phone (it automatically reduces glare) and upload them to Shutterfly. When a coupon for unlimited pages for a photo book comes to my inbox, I use it and pay something like $35 for a 8×11 book of 200 pages. I keep the original in a box.

Repeat Regularly

For as long as papers exist, paper clutter will  N E V E R  end. It’s going to be a constant work in progress.

Just time block and put it on the calendar and keep at it every day.

Remember, it’s not the outcome of having a paper-free home that we need to focus on. It’s the system that is put into place and making it a habit.

Let’s Review

Some of my best tips to take away from this post:

  • Don’t allow junk mail to even hit your kitchen counter. Throw them away immediately.
  • Use Shutterfly to create books of all your kids’ artwork.
  • Tear articles from medical journals that your DrSpouse needs, throw away the rest.

In Summary

I know you’re managing most of the household. From your kids’ school, appointments, to your work and your DrSpouse’s work, and everywhere in between, you’re drowning.

You’ve had it up to “here” with PAPERS EVERYWHERE.

Learn how to create a system to handle incoming papers as well as sorting existing papers and you can be in better control of not only the physical clutter but also avoid late fees and hunting for papers.

And you can go back to a less stressful life and what’s most important: your time with your family.

I am hugging and supporting you, friend ❤️

To your strong medical family,

 

Your Turn

Did I miss any paper clutter in your life that I should address?

How do YOU handle medical journals that every medical family HATES? 😜