Paper is like your weight: if you don't watch it carefully, it will get out of control before you know it. Stacks of magazines will start to form on your coffee table, newspapers will spread on your living room floor and mail will take over your dining room table. What's worse, they breed at night and when you're not looking.
But you can do it! You're bigger, stronger and can do more than slide across a floor or lie quietly in a pile. If you need something to prove you're the boss, show them this.
1) Scoop up your paper and place in a small storage bin. Once your paper is caged, it cannot get out and grow elsewhere. Let your paper know you are in charge. If it gets unruly, cover it and threaten to move it to the garage or the attic.
2) Divide every piece into a pile with a name. Don't be afraid to have 20 to 30 piles--you can always combine them later. I had piles for Computer Tips, Cards, Articles to Read, Decorating, Gardening, Recipes, Dieting, Inspiring Articles, Retirement, Career Search, Places to Travel, Favorite Sites in New York State (where I live), hairstyles, Future Craft Projects. I encouraged my paper to stay in their piles by promising them pretty new files to live in.
3) Put all the paper into files with those names, using Post-Its for the file name. Put the sticky side at the top of the file so the Post-It name sticks above it. You can sort through the actual files later. The important thing for your paper to know is that it has a home and no longer has to be Foster Paper anymore, moving from table to floor to bookcase.
4) Are your files too cumbersome? Combine them. You'll probably end up with 10 to 15, but that's OK. Just have a manageable number in which you can remember where everything goes. In fact, you can take a tip from eBay--write tags on them.
5) Remember that original storage bin? When you sort through your files, use that to keep files that you're thinking of combining so they'll all be there together so you can combine their contents easily and quickly.
6) Don't stop now! Put the storage bin in front of you when you're watching TV and keep a shredder nearby. Sort through each and every file. Send some paper to the Great Stationery Store in the Sky. Place others in the file for future reference.
Repeat as needed.