Paper Piles and Zero Smiles

Recently, I feel like my life has been overrun by paper.

I have great parents. They prepared me for a lot about adult life.  For example, i'm never taken aback when things are expensive. From the time I was a small child, I knew life would be expensive. “Do you know how expensive that is?” “No, it’s too expensive.” “Do you think I am made of money?” Those were all frequent sayings that came out of my parents mouths, which resulted in me becoming an adult who is never sticker shocked. I know life is going to be expensive.

I’m never shocked when I touch something and it breaks. Going into any store as a child, I was told at least one hundred times upon entry, while walking around, and upon exit, not to touch anything. I knew that if I touched something it would shatter into a million pieces (and we would probably have to pay for it). Now, as an adult, I rarely touch anything in a store.

When I have a day that is full of “to-do’s” that are unpleasant, it doesn’t catch me off guard. “Life’s not fair”, “We don’t always get to do what we want”, and “Tough” were all frequent answers to childhood complaints. Unpleasantries build character and I was prepared to have to face them as an adult.

The element of adult life that no one prepared me for was the amount of paper I have to deal with. Even now, in 2018, when paperless everything is all the rage, I am still drowning in paper.

Every single day, a wad of paper shows up in my mailbox and I have to make decisions on what to keep, how long to keep it, where to put it, what to deal with now, what can wait, how did I even get subscribed to The Best of Collections ETC. catalog!!??

I used to file everything. I had a file drawer the size of Alaska with tons of crap I did not need. I recently had the opportunity to pare down and organize the paper. Here is what I found:

  1. You don’t need MOST of what you have filed. Copies of bills, old taxes, old medical records, check stubs… you don’t need it. Here is why… MOST OF IT IS ONLINE. So, even if you did need it, there would be record of it on the world wide web. Mark and I recently had a discussion about how long you need to keep tax records. I said five years, he said 10. I Googled it. The correct answer is three unless you file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction. That is from I hope you are reading this Mark! Pro tip… hire someone good to do your taxes.
  2. If you can deal with paper immediately, you will be most successful. I have started only checking the mail when I am not very busy. I have even left mail in the mailbox for an extra day because I knew I wouldn’t have time to deal with it.Throwing away the catalogs, and junk is imperative to staying ahead of the paper tsunami. Pro tip… you don’t need catalogs either because guess where you can find all that stuff… online.
  3. If you can’t deal with it immediately, put it somewhere that forces you to deal with it soon. I don’t like a messy bag, so it goes directly into my work bag. I will get sick of seeing it when I pull out my things and I will deal with it sooner, rather than later. Pro tip… starting a paper stack ANYWHERE, even in an organizer tray, will not save you from the paper train that is about to smash you in the face. Stacks cause heart attacks. Don’t do it. I hope this might help someone out there trying to climb out of the adult paper abyss. #gonnagetit

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