Set a routine to tackle paper organization

Set a routine to tackle paper organization

I try to keep my home office organized, but I still have papers - articles, recipes and important mail - laying around in three different rooms. What can I do? — Angie's List member Kathy Sain, Flint, Mich.

The problem with paper, says Amy McKenna, owner of highly rated Streamline Miami, based in Miami, is its omnipresence in most people's lives. "Paper is eternal; it's always there," she says. "The first thing to do is to get everything in one location. Having one spot where you can find or leave something is key."

Then you should adopt a daily routine to sort through it to prevent paperwork from piling up, says Katherine Trezise, owner of highly rated Absolutely Organized in Cockeysville, Md., which services Baltimore.

"Schedule time every day to open every piece of mail or look at incoming paper and ask the question, 'What's the next action?'" she says. That may include discarding or shredding unnecessary items, paying or filing incoming bills, or categorizing similar documents and placing them in useful locations.

To reduce overall paper volume, unsubscribe from unwanted catalogs or mailers, switch to paperless billing, or scan documents into your computer, Trezise says.

Hiring a professional organizer to devise new organizational systems can help mitigate the mess. Costs typically range from $30 to $100 per hour. Check for certifications from groups such as the National Organization of Professional Organizers ( before hiring.

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