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Decluttering Papers

Welcome to week 6 of Tidy 2020. This week we are going to continue with one of the categories that many people find very difficult, but which I love! The category is papers and whilst we touched on papers last week with old course materials, this week, we’re into bills and everything else.

Bills and other post are one of those categories that can creep up on all of us, even Professional Organisers!

Gather your papers together. All of your loose ones from all over your living space.

Clear yourself somewhere to work; I often find that when I am working with clients, the floor is a good place, or clear off a table.

Sort them into categories, for example, bills, receipts, pensions paperwork, certificates and passports, manuals, newspaper clippings etc. Do not over categorise, or get caught up in trying to order things by date at this point.

Go through each pile, pull out anything that needs dealing with and put it to one side to be dealt with.

Recycle anything that can be recycled, and burn or shred anything with sensitive details on it (I have a great pair of scissors with multiple blades that are super useful for cutting addresses and account details off letters). Ask yourself with items like manuals if you would look for the paper manual in the case that you need it, or if you would be more likely to look online (people usually have a marked preference for one or the other). With things like newspaper cuttings, if they can be easily dealt with, then do so, but if they are sentimental, then put them to one side to be dealt with later in the method.

How long you keep paperwork for is entirely up to you. If you are in the UK, then HMRC has this to say on the matter (spoiler, it basically says 2 years for most things, 7 if you are self employed);

What you keep is also entirely up to you. I have some clients who feel safer keeping practically everything, from old phone bills to bank statements to the bumpf that comes with credit card statements. I have some who like to keep old bills so that they can compare what they paid previously to what they pay now, and then I have some who are more like me; bills get discarded pretty much as soon as they are paid and most stuff (bank statements etc) are all online. It is whatever Sparks Joy for you as usual in KonMari, everything is completely personal to you.

As papers is such a big category for many people, I am going to leave the task here for this week and next week we’ll work on ways to organise the remaining paper and on how to keep on top of it.