What is the Worst Kind of Clutter? – Paper Clutter
If you’re like me, nothing drives you crazier than papers cluttered and stacked all over the counters and desktops in your house. You need a Declutter Paper Plan.
I am not going to lie, I am a thrower.
In fact, throwing stuff away and getting rid of clutter feels great. No guilt or remorse, most of the time.
My husband, on the other hand, has kept every receipt, bank statement, utility bill, etc he has ever received and they are all tucked away in a big file. It is not a pretty picture.
In his defense, he is not a millennial, he is a baby boomer who is convinced everyone would like to compare their electric bill today with the bill they got 20 years ago.
Truthfully, I am always afraid someone in our house is going to accidentally throw an important bill or even money away with all the junk mail.
But no lie, when it did happen in our house, it was me who did it!
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No lie, this really did happen to me recently when I threw away an envelope that had both of our birth certificates and marriage license in it.!
I got the envelope mixed up with another envelope where I had been keeping old receipts. Naturally, I was horrified.
You Decluttering Paper is the Solution
If you have ever thrown away something by accident, you also know that feeling of pure panic you get when you have to rifle through a stack of papers trying to find something because you need it NOW.
Like us, you probably have a place in your house where everyone puts mail, magazines, important papers or reminders all in the same spot,
or are there too many places paper is stacked?
So, I’m curious, what is your biggest frustration with having paper all over the place?
Whatever your answer the only solution is to declutter & organize all of your paper once and for all.
Wouldn’t it be great to have peace of mind that you never have to worry about paper clutter ever again?
Look, I know decluttering piles of paper is not exactly how you want to spend your time, believe me. I’m not promising fun.
And I don’t doubt you have other things you could be doing that you really need to get done.
But trust me, it will be well worth it.
The reward for all of your hard work your house will not be cluttered with paper and you’re going to know what you have and where it is.
Plus your countertops are going to be so clean!
Not exactly exciting, but something that needs to be done, right?
You Don’t Live Alone?
Here’s another thing, you are not decluttering & organizing for just yourself.
So to make sure your new plan really works, you are going to have some kind of training plan for your family.
And, unless you and your spouse are exactly the same, I don’t recommend you do this together. I think you know what I’m talking about.
Trust me, in my world, it would take a lot longer.
I only tell you this, because if this sounds familiar, I understand decluttering might be a little stressful.
I’d be lying if I told you I have completely changed his mind on what papers he should be keeping.
But I have made some progress, baby steps, right?
Are You Ready to Declutter Your Paper?
Organize Your Paper Decluttering Workspace
Personally, I love using card tables and for jobs that I know are going to take a few days.
I also chose these little storage baskets to sort my paper because when I'm done, I can use them for lots of other things.
You don’t need a card table or the baskets I bought, you just need to find a spot where you can quit working when you want and pick up where you left off the next time.
Tip: One way you can make decluttering paper more manageable is to limit your work-time to 15 minutes at a time.
Step 2: Get It All Together
( I mean your paper)
First, start by going through your house and put all the paper you can find in your larger container.
Don't sort, just collect all the papers from your cupboards, counter-tops, drawers, even file cabinets.
You may be wondering why I am including papers in your file cabinets, thinking that's already organized?
Maybe, but it is more likely that there are papers that can be thrown, scanned, or refiled.
Even with this step accomplished you have everything in one place!
Believe me, that's a victory in itself.
Step 3- Throw and Recycle Paper
Start by throwing away the obvious- Junk mail, useless receipts, old magazines, newspapers, expired coupons, etc.
Right now just Keep or Throw- that's it.
Just a little warning, do not get distracted by an interesting article on the cover of a magazine, set it aside in a pile just for magazines.
You can read that later.
Actually, if you have a lot of reading material in your bin, you may have to admit you will never have time to read it, and this might be a good time to throw reading materials now.
There will always be more purging later, but for now, you have gotten rid of the obvious clutter.
Step 4: Sort Paper Clutter Into Catagories
For this next step, you need 6 containers.
(This is where the foldable baskets come in I was telling you about earlier)
Now, what you have left is a pile of paper you didn't want to throw. Yet.
Ok, now take out the 6 baskets or bins and set them up in your workspace.
It's probably a good idea to label the containers with index cards or tape.
- Needs Action or Attention
- Keep in a Safe Place
- I can access this online
- Scan This
- Shred This
Paper that Needs Action or Attention
The only thing in this container should be things like bills, letters that need a fast response, etc.
Hopefully, if you use online banking this will be mostly empty.
Documents You Need to Keep/File
These are the important documents you need to have in your possession.
You don't need a large file cabinet for these papers.
However, I would go so far as to recommend you buy a small fireproof safe and give your family the combination.
So what goes here?
Tax Returns ( 7 years)
Birth & Marriage Certificates
Social Security Cards
Power of Attorney
It's not a bad idea to take this one step further and scan these documents before filing them in a safe, that would give you two copies.
Ask yourself, Can I access this somewhere online? If the answer is yes, throw it.
- Restaurant menus
- Investment statements
- All product manuals
- Cancel paper magazine subscriptions and subscribe online.
- Subscribe to your local paper online and cancel the paper delivery.
- Have your bank deliver statements electronically or just log-in to your account.
- Most banks and credit card companies give you the option of going paperless
- If you pay any bills with a check, pay with online banking or automatic payments
Scan, Scan, Scan:
Scanning documents is absolutely the best way to keep a copy and throw away paper at the same time.
Honestly, if you have never done any scanning before, don't worry, it is really easy. If you have a printer, most printers will scan your papers and send a copy straight to your computer.
Naturally, there are a gazillion options for scanning documents.
Send scanned items to your computer and store them in iCloud Drive, Evernote, or whatever app you like to use to stay organized.
You might be interested in How to Organize Your Life With Apple Notes
Apple's Notes app is one of the best-kept secrets as having one of the best scanners. Most people don't even know about it.
Here's how it works. just open a new note and click the + sign.
Press scan and away you go!. The quality has great reviews so give it a try. Keep in mind, you won't always have your scanner with you, so scanning with your phone is a great option.
The other thing about saving scanned documents on your phone is that you always have them with you when you are out and about and you need them.
Examples of Things I Scan:
- Some paid bills
- Tax Documents
- Statements you are not accessing online
- Important documents like birth certificates, mortgage papers, etc. I like having an electronic copy
- Insurance policies
- Charitable contributions
Remember, if you ever want a paper copy of your scanned paper, all you have to do is print.
When you have scanned your papers, either shred them or recycle them.
Shredding is a safety precaution as you know.
Anything with personal information on it like social security numbers or account numbers should be shredded.
Step 5: Your New Paper Declutter& Organize System
First, stop so much paper from coming into your house.
Honestly, Don't skip this. These sites and apps are amazing!
Take control of what is sent to you.
To stop junk mail, go to these sites and get your name taken off of unwanted mailing lists.
Dmachoice.org -Remove your name from the Direct Marketing Association's marketing lists. After signing up you can choose the mail you want to receive along with what you want to cancel.
Catalogchoice.org -You get to choose the catalogs that you want to receive, and stop receiving the catalogs you no longer want.
OptOutPrescreen.com -Opt-out of credit card and insurance offers from coming in the mail.
Paper Karma app -This is a must-have app. After signing up all you do is take a photo of unwanted mail and the app automatically contacts the sender tells them to take your name off their list.
The New Plan is Simple and Should be Simple
After going through all the work of decluttering paper, you need a simple plan to keep it that way.
That is what we are going to do next, okay?
1. You need to designate a spot in your house where all new paper will go when it arrives.
Luckily, we have a small kitchen counter that can double as a desk.
This is where I have put my two new "mailboxes".
Of course, you could use a couple of the baskets you used when you were sorting too. Whatever you use as your new paper collection station, make it something you will like looking at all the time. -
2. Now, with your new plan, you are going to use the same categories you did when you first started to declutter, but it is going to so much easier.
3. Going forward, when you get the mail, immediately throw all junk mail.
Any mail that is going to require any action on your part, goes in one container. Do your best to make sure this container is empty as soon as possible.
4. So now, you are left with papers you need to Keep or Scan.
That paper goes into the second bin or basket in your collection station.
Make no mistake, here's the most important rule, never take a paper out of that basket without throwing it, scanning it or filing it.
When you are done scanning, that document either gets recycled or shredded.
If you are still receiving some magazines or reading materials, find another place to keep them in your house, like a "reading basket" somewhere.
Promise you will throw away reading material you haven't read when the new issue arrives.
Share Your Paper Decluttering Plan With Your Family
Finally, let your family know what the plan is and how happy they are going to be with the new paper declutter plan.
That means someone can't take a piece of mail out of the basket, read it and start a pile on the counter!-
Usually, I would tell you to keep it handy, but instead, I am going to tell you to scan it and use it to remind yourself to stick to your plan.
Let me know in the comments about how things worked out for you and if you have some tips for the rest of us.
Other posts to help you declutter:
How to Organize Your Life With Apple Notes
How to Organize & Declutter Your Home Before You Sell or Remodel
Only 50% of Americans Have a Home Inventory, Do You?
6 Ways Empty Nesters Can be a Minimalist