by Lisa Woodruff
For 2022, we are adding to the Lisa glossary. This week, we are talking about The Paper Solution. In 2020, I published a book called The Paper Solution. I also want to be your teacher to help you get your home and work paper organized and functional.
No matter when you begin your transformational journey (or when you need to reset or restart), this information will be here as a reference for you. Listen in as I teach you about the ideas and beliefs that are at the core of everything I teach and how I approach organizing.
Paper is my thing. I love writing on paper, I love organizing paper, I love everything about paper.
But, as a professional organizer, I realized there is very little information available about how to organize paper, the categories of paper we deal with in our lives, and how to actually use paper in everyday life.
Less Paper, not Paperless.
Although we have been promised a “paperless” society, the reality is that the US is a paper-based society. We are able to handle more things digitally than ever before, but we still need physical paper for many things in life.
In America, our vaccine cards, birth certificates, vehicle titles, and medical records are all physical paper. Other parts of the world have digital systems for these things, but because of the uniqueness of our government and our focus on freedoms, we do not have universal, digital records for these things.
In my own life, physical paper has saved me over and over. Paper means that I can avoid expensive professional fees, and it gives me authority with lawyers, doctors, and school principles. In America, paper is the way I (and you) can substantiate claims and provide proof of what you know. Paper is useful in settling estates, advocating for children during IEP meetings, and for communicating vital health information during a medical emergency.
The Paper Solution
The Sunday Basket® is the foundation of an organized home. The Sunday Basket® starts as a physical basket that holds actionable papers. But, really, it is so much more. It is a weekly habit of processing and looking proactively at the upcoming week that keeps the household running more smoothly.
In 2020, I published The Paper Solution as a physical book. It is written to change your mindset about papers, and to give you the practical tools to get your household papers organized.
The Big Purge
As a professional organizer working in people’s homes, I saw over and over that file cabinets allow us to save much more paper than we ever in. Surprisingly, most Americans can get rid of 80% of their filed papers and will never need them again.
You can declutter your papers in as little as 15 minutes a day. Take a few file folders out and review them. Make piles for papers to recycle, shred, and save. Put the “save” papers back in the file cabinet.
If you have ever taken care of a loved one’s papers, you know how vital it is to have important papers organized and easy to find. Take care of the people you love by clearing out all the old papers that no longer need to be stored or saved.
Types of Paper - Actionable and Reference
Of the papers that should be kept, there are two main categories.
Actionable papers are papers that require you to take some action — bills to pay, grocery lists to buy, or a note to book that vacation hotel.
Reference papers are all of the other papers we save — bank account numbers, retirement statements, wedding cards, and love letters. These we may look at again sometime in the future, but they mostly need to be kept safe.
Ditch the File Cabinet
After years of helping people get their files color-coded and organized in a file cabinet, I had several clients who were facing emergency evacuations. The reality was that they did not have time to pull out important documents during their emergency.
That is when I realized that our reference papers need to be portable and there must be a constraint on how much paper we keep. It’s not realistic to load up an entire file cabinet when trying to get away from a forest fire or a hurricane.
For several years, I have been teaching people to ditch the file cabinet and replace it with several essential reference binders. (More on this in the next podcast).
America is going to need a team of trained professionals who understand the skill of organizing to teach it to others. The Organize 365® system offers different levels of assistance for learners depending on their personal needs.
Certified Organizers are trained by Organize 365® to provide 1:1 or small group coaching, assistance, and support. I want you to have what you need to get organized and to be successful.
We all need to have our paperwork organized. You can do it now, or you can do it after an emergency. It is a blessing to do it now — it is a gift to yourself and those who love you.
Organize 365® offers The Paper Solution for any type of paper you have. Actionable, household, reference, or work. Learn more at organize365.com!
This episode is a part of the Organize 365® Glossary Playlist. Listen to other episodes on the Glossary Playlist here.