Have your papers started piling up around you, but you feel too overwhelmed to deal with them? Here are some easy, gentle ways to get your papers a bit more organized during this quarantine. No, these tips won’t get your papers 100 percent organized, but they will make things much more manageable until we all have a bit more energy. Also, don’t feel like you have to do all 4 steps in one sitting. Maybe you do just one step a day. Good enough.
(Also, I’ve been waiting 24 hours to touch any mail that comes into my house or if I really need to look at it, I wash my hands after handling the mail. This is not official medical advice; this is just what I’ve been doing.)
The most important papers in your stack are probably your bills, so let’s find those first. Do you have an empty file folder or even an empty Amazon box you can put them in? Great, put any bills you find there. Be sure to put a big, bright Post-It note on your box that says “BILLS TO PAY” so you don’t have to resort these papers again later.
Junk mail next.
Next, let’s get all of the junk mail out of your house. Bring your recycling bin over by your stack of papers. If you’re really dreading this part, try my trick: put an upbeat song on by your favorite artist and sort/recycle papers while the song plays. Once the song ends, you can take a quick break (no more than 5 minutes) to eat a piece of chocolate or scroll social media, whatever gives you a bit of a dopamine hit. Then return to your sorting while another song from your favorite artist plays. Even if you can only stand to do this once a day with one song, that’s still better than nothing!
Take action papers last.
At this point, you might be left with a bunch of papers you need to do something with. These aren’t bills, but you might need to take action on them. Can you find another file folder or box to put these in and label it “TAKE ACTION 4/2/20”? The date is to remind you not to let too much time go before taking action on these papers.
Honestly, I think it’s fine to let filing go for now during this quarantine, if you are really struggling with staying organized and completing tasks. The important thing is that you know where to find these papers, should you need to reference them again. Even if that means they just sit in a pile on top of the filing cabinet for now, that’s good enough for me.
Does even this feel like too much? Instead, deal with ONE piece of mail/paper a day. Pick up ONE piece and recycle it, shred it, put it in a pile labeled “FILE” or in a pile labeled “BILLS TO PAY” or “TAKE ACTION.” Just do this one step everyday for now. Feel a bit stronger? Then deal with two or three pieces of mail. The key is to make progress, no matter how small. And be kind to yourself during this time.
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