How to Deal with Paper Clutter | Giftie Etcetera: How to Deal with Paper Clutter

Thursday, November 19, 2015

How to Deal with Paper Clutter

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I am an organizing blogger.

If you haven't visited Giftie Etcetera before, I write about day planners, parenting, and keeping life in order.

So the real, live pile of papers in this picture?

paper, paper clutter, filing, filing paper

Reality, dear readers.

Reality happens, and when it does, I blog about it.

I figure if I put my shameful piles out there, my Loyal Readers will know that perfection doesn't actually exist! My shame is your gain.

Even if perfection isn't possible, you can avoid this situation. The biggest problems causing paper pile-ups are actually easy to solve!


Solution: Toss papers that you won't ever use into the trash immediately. 

Put a trash can (this one is really cool for neat freaks) near the locations where you sort incoming mail, in your office near your in-box, and where you go through your kids' school bags.

Coupons? If you don't have a system in place for using them, trash them.

Advertisements? Solicitations? Toss them.

Magazines that you'll never read? Toss them.


Solution: Get a planner or set up a calendar program for planning.

When I was a little girl, my mom put every single wedding, shower, or birthday invitation on our fridge. You could not open the fridge without papers flying all over the place.

(I just considered that my mom still does this. But I'm pretty sure she doesn't read my blog. And if she does, "hi, Mom!")

If you have a planner, you could just write down the date, time, address, and any prep (like buying and wrapping the gift).

Then, toss the paper.

The planner can be top of line (like this Kate Spade or this Filofax) or cheap but beautiful and effective (like this one - one of my favorites).

As long as you have a place to capture the information, you can toss the paper with no worries.


Solution: Give everyone in the house an in-box.

My husband has a basket for his mail.

But my secret for the kids is really special.

I put their stuff on their seat in the kitchen.

That way, they have to deal with their letter from Grandma or their Lego magazine themselves, before they can sit at the kitchen table to do homework or eat.

But since it's on the seat, and not on the table, I don't have to see it!


Solution: Have a great filing system.

I teach about my filing system here and here.

Be very careful to only keep what you must.

TIP: If in doubt, snap a picture of it with your phone before tossing.

That's it. Manage paper without all that stress. Avoid piles like mine. Appear effortlessly organized (even if we all secretly know that you aren't).

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Geertrude said...

Great tips! I've found keeping trash is often the start of a growing (and overwhelming) paper pile. I also take everything out of the envelope right after receiving it and throw the envelop away (if I need to keep things together I use binderclips or paperclips). It helps to notice if there's any mail I haven't opened yet and it makes the pile easier to manage.
I once helped someone sort a paper pile that was over a feet high, but there wasn't even half of it left once I sorted out all the trash and envelopes.

Anonymous said...

I'm a tosser where my hub is a keeper (he's also a keeper in the good way too!) When he opens mail, it'll stay on his desk for days whether it's actionable or not. He doesn't know what that rectangular receptacle is for. I only give him what he needs to open personally, and I go through the rest else we'd be up to our knees in flyers, catalogs and empty envelopes!

Anna said...

It's nice that so many things can be kept digitally now. It really cuts down on paper clutter. One thing I've started doing for the refrigerator is using page protectors to put some schedules or info that I want to keep visible. For example, right now one has the menus and kids chores on the front. On the back is our library events scheduled. The library events we want to attend are in my planner, but anyone can flip to the back to look at the schedule whenever they want.

Jaime Barfield said...

Love the tips thanks

Unknown said...

I set up an organizing system and didn't keep it. Paper sure does pile up fast if you don't sort it out right away. I enjoy your posts! I hope you keeping linking up at #100HappyDays!

Giftie Etcetera said...

Great tip, Anna. I've been using magnet clips, but I might like your way better. Mine get all sideways and funky!

Unknown said...

A bit pet peeve of mine is all of the junk that comes in your billing statements. I always toss all of that right away, along with the envelope that the bill came in and, if I will pay the bill online, the return envelope for the payment. I cannot stand when there are piles of literal trash lying around.

Stepbystep said...

This really resonates with me. Paper clutter is choking my whole ability to function. I keep trying so many ways of dealing with it - and I do have a planner, but if it's not right under my nose, I forget to use it. Thank you for this wise and practical's going to help me!

Unknown said...

Love the idea to put things in the kid's seat. I saved your cheap but pretty planner on my wish list! I really like it, and the more I read about using physical planners the more I miss the ones I used in college.

Anonymous said...

I've been on a decluttering mission this month and spent so much time going through piles of paper! I immediately put a good filling system in place!