Tips on Minimizing Paper

Pile of Paper

Tip #1: Don’t hang on to documents for longer than you need to

Do you hold on to everything that is paper that comes into your home and across your desk? If you do, you’re not alone. Many people are afraid to discard any paperwork, so it builds over the years until it becomes unmanageable. When it comes to personal, or financial documents, particularly in relation to income tax reporting, what people don’t know is that they only need to keep records for a minimum of six years from the end of the last tax year. What I do is keep 7 years just in case. The best way to organize your records is to dedicate a folder or filing box, depending on how much paperwork you have, for each year. This means that at any given time, you’ll only have 7 files/boxes. Simply label them by year, and when you celebrate a new year (or fiscal year-end), simply shred the contents of the oldest box, and relabel it with the new year. There may be some exceptions (e.g. paperwork related to the sale of a property), so be sure to read the information at the link below, and contact a professional if you are unsure.

Some people also think you have to keep ALL of your bills, etc. for years at a time. The fact is, unless you are writing them off for tax benefits, you don’t need to keep them for so long. I always recommend that you keep on hand 1 year’s worth of bills, so that you have a record of your payments to your suppliers. Again, this is if you are not writing these bills off.

Another related tip is to store any records that are over 1 year old somewhere else (e.g. basement, etc.). Only keep records that are less than 1 year old handy in your home office filing cabinets. But do make sure that your older documents are stored in a safe, dry place. This will free up space and help you to feel better in your current work space.

For official government guidelines on how long you are required to keep your records, go to the following links:

For additional tips, please see the full article at:


Tip #2: Minimize Paper Coming In

Junk Mail

Tape a “No Junkmail” sign to your mailbox or mail slot. If that doesn’t work, download this form and mail it to your nearest Canada Post Outlet:

Sign up with the Canadian Marketing Association’s Do Not Contact Registry:


Sign up to receive your bills online(e.g. Rogers, Bell, Telus, TD, 407, etc.).Your workplace may offer this in lieu of pay stubs as well—ask your payroll department.


Tip #3: Don’t be a “Piler”, be a “Filer”!

Don’t let papers pile up in your home office, or on your kitchen table. Address paper immediately as it comes in. It’s likely that 80% of the paper that comes in can be recycled. Throw out flyers, envelopes, and statements that you don’t need record of. The more you stay on top of it, the less overwhelming it will be. Even if you set out one 1/2 hour per week to go through papers and file as needed, you will see a huge improvement be able to stay on top of things. If your issue is that you already have a huge pile to tackle, don’t despair! It takes roughly 1 hour to go through 1 foot of paper, so take it one hour at a time, and you’ll see how quickly you can get through it.

Bonus Tip: How do I get off telemarketers’ lists?


Happy Organizing!

Have a question? Feel free to contact me at, or suggest a topic for a blog post.


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