I am pretty anti paper. I think its disadvantages far outweigh its advantages: having stuff on paper increases the amount of stuff in your home significantly. In addition information that only exists on paper is much easier to lose, as you typically don’t have any back-ups. Sometimes though paper is inevitable so here are a few tips on how you can minimize the hassle it causes.
Switch to electronic wherever possible
At least in Finland, in most instances you can opt for the paperless alternative. You can ask your bank to send you all documents via e-banking, your employer to send your wage receipts via e-mail, and with most service providers you can also agree on e-invoicing so that the bills arrive automatically to your e-banking payments. This also makes paying the bills a lot easier, because you already have the relevant info automatically set up in your e-banking when you want to pay. In Finland we also have this great service from the Finnish Post called Netposti, where you can sign up to get other official information like lab reports electronically that would otherwise be mailed to you. Some companies don’t do direct e-invoicing, but you can still get their paper bill sent to Netposti instead. Make a habit of paying the bills immediately, or then put them on your to do list so you don’t forget them.
Scan when you can
If you have got some important information on paper that you need to keep, you might as well scan it. Usually you can scan stuff at work, or if that’s not possible, at the public libraries. I even bought a small scanner (about 100e) for myself so that I can also get rid of old photo albums by scanning all the old photos. Yes I know, I am not the most sentimental person, but hey, the format of the photos doesn’t really decrease their emotional value 😉
When you can’t resist paper
If you have somehow managed still to be receiving some important information on paper, it’s important to organize it well. It’s a good idea to have one magazine file for bills, invitations, etc. where you keep the more everyday stuff. And then I would buy one binder with a divider where to put the “important papers” that you need to save, e.g. work contracts, apartment contracts, tax statements, important warranty receipts and such under the rightly named section in the divider.
Do a regular cleansing
Even in the leanest homes a certain amount of paper does seem to accumulate over time accidentally. So remember to do a regular cleansing at least twice a year. Throw away all old unnecessary papers (like old rental contracts, already paid bills, etc.). Be ruthless with old magazines, christmas cards and other cards if they are not extra special. Remember, you can always take a photo of them with your phone or if they really are awesome then use them as decoration on your wall or fridge, for example.