The Paper Solution | Lisa Woodruff

Summary of: The Paper Solution: What to Shred, What to Save, and How to Stop It From Taking Over Your Life
By: Lisa Woodruff


Embark on a journey to declutter your life with Lisa Woodruff’s ‘The Paper Solution: What to Shred, What to Save, and How to Stop It From Taking Over Your Life’. This book summary delves into the consequences of clutter, both financial and emotional, and offers practical solutions for managing papers and restoring well-being. Among the techniques discussed, the ‘Big Purge’ and the ‘Sunday Basket’ system stand out as essential tools in wrangling the chaos and creating clarity in your daily life. Discover how binders, savvy digital practices, and proper storage of important documents can free your space and ultimately, your mind.

Clearing Clutter for a Happier You

In this summary, we learn how clutter not only hampers our space but also our time and emotions. A billion dollars in gift cards went unclaimed in 2014, and 55 minutes a day is lost searching for misplaced items. Clutter turns out to be an emotional and physical burden on ourselves, leading to stress and anxiety while also scarring our ability to keep a home safe and clean.

The Big Purge

The Big Purge involves getting rid of 85% of your current paper stash to figure out which ones you need to keep. The process usually takes people 90-120 days to complete. Label five boxes – To-Be-Sorted, Save, Shred, Recycle, and Trash – but don’t start sorting straight away. The physical act of picking up papers will help you discard more than you think. Specifically, shred sensitive information like Social Security numbers, and recycle others. When sorting sentimental papers, choose a few things you love rather than stuffing them into a box.

Organize Your Papers

Keep time-sensitive papers in a designated basket and sort them into folders labeled by category.

After the Big Purge, many are left unsure of what to do with the papers that remain. The solution is simple yet powerful: the Sunday Basket. This basket acts as the designated place for all incoming papers that need to be managed. Once you master this system, it’ll relieve stress and save time.

To implement the Sunday Basket, designate a place for all papers that need attention. This could be a basket, box, or folder. On Sundays, schedule 90 minutes to go through the basket and sort the papers into five slash pocket folders labeled To-Do This Week, Calendar and Computer, Errands, Money and Finances, and Waiting For.

To-Do This Week is for urgent papers that need your attention. Calendar and Computer is for invitations, schedules, and events that need to be added to your calendar. Errands is for papers needed to accomplish your to-do list, like drug prescriptions or coupons. Money and Finances is for bills, bank statements and checks. Waiting For is for reminders of things you’re waiting for, such as hearing back from a friend.

Place the Sunday Basket in a high-traffic area like the kitchen, where papers tend to accumulate, and ensure everyone in the household knows it’s the designated paper spot. Dropping papers in the basket becomes an automatic habit for everyone. Implementing the Sunday Basket clears clutter and brings ease into managing time-sensitive papers.

Tailoring the Sunday Basket

The Sunday Basket is a flexible system that can be customized to meet individual paper organization needs. The author suggests the creation of additional folders, including a Personal, Home, Family, and two Money folders, and emphasizes the importance of consistency in developing one’s own routine. Trust the system and reward yourself upon completion, advises the author.

In her book, the author introduces a powerful concept known as the Sunday Basket. The system offers a broad structure that accommodates individual preferences and needs. By tailoring their baskets, individuals can effectively manage their papers in a timely and organized manner.

The Sunday Basket system operates on the principle of customization. Unlike a one-size-fits-all approach, the Sunday Basket recognizes that every household is unique, with distinct paper organization needs. Consequently, each person has the liberty to tweak the system, from the name of the system down to the day of the week when it is implemented. The system can work with a Tuesday Basket, Wednesday Basket, or any other chosen day.

To start organizing papers, individuals need to create core Sunday Basket folders. These folders include Personal, Home, Family, and two Money folders. However, the author encourages individuals to add other folders that best suit their needs. For instance, a Family folder can be a fantastic way of tracking vacation documents, summer camp notifications, or pet information. Similarly, creating two Money folders offers a more sophisticated system for managing finances. One folder can store receipts while the other one stores coupons.

The more regularly an individual goes through their papers, the better the Sunday Basket system becomes. While there is no actual perfect structure, the system works best by finding the specific set of folders that work well for you. Through trial and error, an individual can tailor the system to fit their specific needs.

One key emphasis is consistency. An individual should go through their papers at the same time on the same day every week. Consistency is the key to success when it comes to developing a routine. The author encourages individuals to trust the system, and they will develop a habit from it. Additionally, rewarding oneself upon completion of the organization tasks with a sweet treat gives them something to look forward to.

In conclusion, the Sunday Basket system offers a flexible approach to paper organization. By tailoring the system, individuals can customize their baskets to meet their distinct paper organization needs. Achieving consistency in implementing the system is essential in turning it into a habit.

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