It was summer, it was hot and we had an exchange student from France. We wanted to show her as many places as we could in our state and have her experience everything like hiking, camping and water sports. We have a reservoir about 45 minutes away where people water ski. We didn’t have a boat so skiing was out of the question but we had a friend whose canoe we could borrow and at least go out on the water.
The four of us drove to the reservoir, unloaded the canoe and carried it down to the water. We put on our life vests and three of us climbed into the canoe. We paddled out into the water away from the shore. The water was pretty choppy because a speed boat had just passed by creating small waves. I started getting scared and saying, “we’re going to tip over, we’re going to tip over”. Sure enough we did tip over -–it could have been because I was so worried about tipping over that I didn’t help keep the balance which is necessary in a canoe.

We got a hold of the canoe and started swimming it to shore. I can swim, I had a life jacket on and someone was on shore that could swim out to me if I really was in danger of drowning.

Even though I knew all of this I couldn’t catch my breath and I felt like I would drown. I kept saying, “I can’t catch my breath, I can’t catch my breath”. Finally my daughter said to me, “You can breathe and you’re not going to drown; all you have to do is put your legs down and you can stand up”. I immediately put my legs down, I could breathe and it seemed so silly that I had thought I would drown. For the rest of the day we played in the water ridding the waves of the boats and having a lot of fun.

Do you ever feel like you are drowning in paper? Do you have so many different types of paper coming into your home such as junk mail, magazines, bills, letters, receipts, documents, and kid’s art or school work just to mention a few that you “rock the canoe” by worrying about all the paper instead of doing something about the problem?

There are things you can do to help you get on top of the paper problem instead of feeling like you are drowning in paper.

1.Limit the amount of times you handle a piece of paper. When you open an envelope make a decision right then where that piece of paper will go. For example: bills go into a bill paying folder, or better yet eliminate the paper and get your bill electronically. Mail that belongs to someone else put in a designated place for them. For mail that needs attention put in a basket or in your in-box for you to take care of later.

2. As a professional organizer I recommend designating two specific days a month to pay bills. You could call it your office day. On that day also file paper work, shred papers etc. Create areas where you keep all of your supplies for paperwork such as pens, stapler, envelopes, stamps, return address labels, and your files.

3. Use a tickler file for things that need to be taken care of within a week of receiving it. Put that paper in the top of your in box and make it a habit to have it completely cleaned out every week. Or place the paper in a brightly colored folder so you know it is something urgent to take care of immediately or by its due date.

4. Always, always, always shred personal information that has your banking information, credit card numbers and social security numbers.

5. Create a filing system that works for you. As a professional organizer I have seen people’s offices go from horrific paper problems to a neat, organized, peaceful place where they can and want to work. A good filing system also enables anyone to be able to find any piece of paper that has been filed within 10 seconds. My favorite filing system is Freedom Filer because it organizes paper by color and category which our minds grasp very quickly. It is a no thinking kind of system and makes it so easy to file and retrieve what has been filed.

6. Print fewer papers from the internet. Bookmark the site or keep a notebook with information you want to refer to later.

You don’t have to feel like you are drowning when it comes to paper coming into your home. You can “put your legs down” just as I did when I was in the water. Take one step at a time and before you know it you will be in control of your paper; not it being in control of you.

Marilyn, a professional organizer and author is passionate about organizing for women and seniors in clearing clutter from their lives. Her book "Go Organize!" is now in major bookstores. She invites you to visit her website where you will find loads of information, inspiration and help on organizing your home, office and life

Author's Bio: 

Marilyn Bohn is the owner of Get it Together Organizing, a business dedicated to developing practical organizing solutions that help individuals and business professionals live clutter-free and productive lives. She is the author of "Go Organize! Conquer Clutter in 3 Simple Steps".

Marilyn takes the often stressful subject of organizing and breaks it down into a simple, easy to understand system. Her methods are both eye-opening and encouraging! Visit her website