My new paperwork/mail/email systems work like this:
Mail: I get the mail. Immediately I trash the junk mail. I open everything else right then. My magazines go in my reading basket by my chair. My husband's magazines go in his reading basket, yes, you guessed it, in the bathroom. (It's a guy thing, I guess.) I file what needs to be filed. If it's a bill, I throw away all the inserts and put the bill in the new tray I bought for the office desk. If it contains information about a meeting or appointment, etc. I record that information on my calendar immediately. That's it. It takes only a minute or two, and both my desk and my kitchen island (where mail used to languish and multiply) stay clean. Every couple of days, I pay the bills that have accumulated and file them. Nothing's lost and nothing's forgotten.
Email: A week ago my email inbox contained, I'm ashamed to admit, 1252 items. 1252!!! The number alone gave me heart palpitations, but surely all that must be important, right? Wrong. I started with the oldest ones and deleted wholesale. If I didn't even have any idea what was back there, how important could it be? As I got nearer to today's date, I paid closer attention to what was there, but most of it was simply stuff I hadn't deleted way back when I should have. So I deleted everything but a couple of items. Those, I created folders for and moved them into the appropriate one. My rule now is to handle every new email as soon as I read it. If it's junk, I delete it. If I need to respond, I do it right then and then delete. If it's an appointment, I record it in my datebook and delete. If it's something that I may need later, I move it to the appropriate folder. Right now, there's only one item in my inbox, and it's only still there because it's an ongoing group conversation that I'll delete as soon as all have responded and the matter's settled.
So easy. So simple. Right? It's just a habit that I'm trying to do until it becomes second nature. I'm breathing easier already.