Update: This series was put together when Organize Your Paper Clutter was an expert-guided online workshop. This class is now available as a self-paced class that you can begin anytime you want! (Even today, hint hint.) Go here to learn what’s included with the Organize Your Paper Clutter online class. 

With the next session of Organize Your Paper Clutter just around the corner, I have paper organizing on my mind. So for the next seven days, I thought it would be fun to do a series of blog posts on paper organizing tips and ideas.

Now if summer is starting up where you live, you may not be thinking about your paper clutter too much. But summer is a terrific time to get some paper organizing projects completed. When it’s too hot for outdoor organizing projects or indoor organizing projects that require heavy lifting, making progress on your paper clutter is a cool alternative. Plus, if you have school aged kids, this is one time of year when the flow of paper slows down, giving you time to catch up on your paper backlog. So…let the paper organizing begin!

Paperwork Organizing Tip 1:  Tackle Your Action Paper First

If you’re faced with an overwhelming amount of paper clutter, you may find yourself stuck, wondering where to begin the process of digging out. I recommend starting with a high level sort. Separate your action paper from your reference and archive paper. How will you know your action paper when you see it? Well, your action paper has a to-do associated with it. Bills to pay, invitations that require your response, and registration forms that need to be completed, are all examples of action paper. This is the paper that is keeping you up at night…it’s the paper that leaves you wondering “Did I take care of that” or “Where is that bill? I really need to pay it.” This is also the paper that can have the greatest consequences when you don’t have an effective system for dealing with it. If you don’t pay the bills because you can’t find them, you could face late fees. If you don’t RSVP in time or enter the date of the party on your calendar, you may miss the party, or you may feel bad when the hostess follows up with you to see if you’ll attend. But, when you gain control over your action paper, and take care of the associated to-dos, you create tremendous peace of mind. So start with your action paper first…and then move on from there.

I’d love to hear what paper organizing projects are on your to-do list. And where do you start when you’ve gotten behind on your paper?

Tomorrow I’ll share a fun paper organizing idea for summer—creating a seasonal recipe binder. (Which is a project that’s on my personal to-do list.) See you then!

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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