Closed September 2017

Clutter Video Tip: 7 Biggest Mistakes with Paper & Information

Hansel and Gretel knew a thing or two about leaving trails. Leaving a paper trail everywhere you go is as dangerous as eating the gingerbread off of a witch’s house. Paper can be bulky, time consuming, and intimidating. But, just like a well fired oven, it is also an essential element in most homes. Watch this video, follow these tips, and live happily ever after.

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Hi I’m Lorie Marrero, creator of the Clutter Diet book and online program. Today, I’m sharing my seven biggest mistakes that I see people making with their paper and information.

Big mistake number 1, mixing up action material with reference material. This bill requires action, it needs to be paid. This is a finished tax return, it needs to be filed. This is action, this is reference. Once I’ve identified those, I don’t want to mix this back together in the same place because I’m not going to be able to see easily what I need to do.

The 2nd mistake I see people making is not having one standard contact management system. People have their e-mail program where they’re managing the people they e-mail frequently. They’ve got a stack of rubber-banded business cards over here, a holiday card list over here, and they need to put all that information in one place and use key-wording, categorizing and filtering to sort that list instead of trying to keep it in separate places.

Big mistake number 3, not having the proper equipment and supplies to do your filing with your papers. Everybody’s heard these squeaky file drawers, and they’ve got a file drawer that’s too full; when you put your hand in it, it’s too crowded between the folders, it gives you paper-cuts. You’ve got folders that are falling apart. Make sure that you treat yourself to the proper equipment and supplies because filing is not a pleasant job, and you might as well do whatever you can to make it pleasant for yourself. Go to the used office furniture store, get a new filing cabinet, or get one with scratches and dents on it, whatever you have to do to make that process easier for you.

Big mistake number 4, not dealing with paper and information on a regular basis. Think of your stacks of paper the same way you think of your dishes in your kitchen sink. Most people have a tolerance for dishes in their sink for only about a day or so before they have to do them. You should have some kind of a threshold where that makes you uneasy, where you realize “I really need to deal with that,” and there needs to be a regular process. I recommend at least once a week, going through all of those papers to make sure you’ve handled things that are important to you.

Big mistake number 5, not having a secure home for your passwords. We have a video about all the methods of tracking your passwords. There are various ways to do that with software apps and index card files, I’m just saying, have a system. I know a lot of people that just keep all of that in their heads and they’re using one or two passwords over and over again, which is a very un-secure thing to do.

Big mistake number 6, keeping too much for too long. You get these privacy policies and disclosure statements from your bank or whomever and you certainly should look at them, but you don’t need to keep these most of the time. You certainly need to keep your tax supporting documents, your tax returns, your real estate transaction documents, but little things that are inserts into a bill for an advertisement, stuff like that ends up in files. Make sure you’re not keeping too much for too long.

Big mistake number 7. Not backing up your information. This is so tragic, especially if you have photographs. Make sure that you have a backup system. I love the ones that are automated, like Carbonite and Mozy. It’s very important that you don’t have to be the one responsible for remembering to do the backup. Have it running all the time, making sure that you have a plan, because it’s not if your hard drive is going to fail, it’s when.

If you want more tips on managing your paper and information, you can see my book, “The Home Office Handbook,” that’s available on our site,

See you next time, and may you always be happy and grateful for having more than enough.

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