Thursday, February 06, 2014

Clearing the clutter

Do you believe in clearing clutter?

I do. And I've been procrastinating for years and today I've finally done it! The clutter had been there even before I've moved to my new house and had been lying there for another 2+ years before I finally can't take it anymore and went to settle all of them. Some of the documents go way back in 2010, so it had been lying there for 3 years!

The clutter I had are mostly papers, consisting of bills, statements, annual reports, magazines and worksheets. It's not very messed up though, because I've been adopting this system of clearing things as they arrive. The system works like this. When a mail and a paperwork comes along, I'll decide what to do there and then. I realize that anything that is not decided immediately will be kept a much longer time (and adding to the clutter), simply because I need to have the assurance that when I finally get to act on them in the future, it'll still be there. This is not only delaying whatever needs to be done, it's also pointless because anything that is lying in a pile of 'to be cleared' paperwork probably won't ever be cleared. If acting on one single document is so difficult, what makes you think clearing a pile of document is ever going to be easier?

My room is almost going to be like this...but not yet

Hence, the system involves the following:

1. Bills will be checked against my own records and paid immediately, or the due date be keyed into the calender of my hand phone with the amount owed, so that when the time comes, I'll remember to pay them. This is frequent, because most, if not all my bills are paperless already. It's most likely to appear in my email then in my mailbox. Maybe only for income tax, property tax and insurance I'll receive the bills in physical form.

2. Statements from banks will be checked against my own records. Used to do this anyway. These days, I also switched to paperless system, so the statements will be notified through my email and I'll check them up on the respective website. Since I do this on a monthly basis when preparing for my personal monthly financial reports, I don't even read the statements transactions by transactions. The total amount will tally exactly 90% of the time. If not, I'll check line by line. Bank reconciliation, I heard this is called.

3. Advertisements will be read immediately, and thrown on the spot. For those interesting ones, I'll snap a picture of it in my handphone. I clear my handphone's photos very very often.

4. Any paper mailed to me physically with only one printed side (the other side is blank) will be kept as 'rough' paper.

5. Any other things that doesn't fall into one of the categories (meaning either going to be settled or thrown away),  I'll take a picture, store it in evernote and let it rot there for a while. Usually these are things that has sentimental reasons. And I'm a sucker for such things. Aww...

Most of my clutter comes from the days before I set up the system and before most of my bills are paperless. So I'll receive a lot of statements and bills. Not anymore. I think it's better this way because firstly it's more environmentally friendly, and secondly, it's easier to keep an online storage then to keep a physical one. The latter will take up space and is not easily archived and made searchable.

Now, after clearing it for 3 hours, my whole room looks so much less cluttered! Why didn't I do it sooner?!