ClutterOrganizationPaperPurging

How to clear the paper clutter

 

Paper Clutter

Be honest: Are you sick of feeling overwhelmed with the endless paper clutter floating around?

Do you stop before you even start because the whole task feels so daunting?

Don’t feel bad. It’s normal. Paper clutter is one of the biggest and most challenging categories to organize.

 

Why?

 

There is so much of it that we encounter in our day to day living. Let’s take a closer look at this.

Every time you go to the grocery store,  you get a paper receipt. If you got gas that day, receipt. Where do these pieces of paper usually go?

 

Wallet?

 

Pocket?

 

Now you get home, you decide you need to go get the mail. Lots of paper there.Where does that go?

 

Table top?

 

Counter?

 

Does the junk mail make it into the recycling bin, or does that take up valuable space on your desk?

Do you have paper bills or did you opt-in for electronic versions?

Let’s say you have children. They come home from school with their (paper) school work or report cards. Where do these go? Dining room table? Their room?

These are just some examples of the main resources for paper clutter. And all this can easily add up over just one day, think about how much can accumulate over the month or even over a year.

Pretty overwhelming to think about, right?

 

What do you do about it? My simple answer; purge!

 

I know, easier said than done. That’s why I’m here to help. To take that huge overwhelming task and help break it down into small, actionable steps. Before we start, I need to strongly recommend that you do all three (numbered) steps per category before moving onto the next category and make sure you’re gathering ALL of that particular category from around the house, your car, your pockets, laundry room, etc.

 

You can get a full step by step checklist by signing up here.

 

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What are the main paper categories?

(These are my suggestions with examples)

Receipts

Grocery store

Gas

Restaurant receipts

Hardware store

Mail

Flyers

Cards

Notifications

Inserts

Statements

Credit card

Bank

Loans

Bills

Utilities

Mortgage

Life insurance

Car insurance

Cell phone

Internet

Tax information

This year’s tax filed

Previous 5-7 years of filed taxes

**contact your government, accountant, or tax expert to see how many years you need to keep in your possession.

Client/business related

Client invoices

Business registration

Courses/schooling registration

Supplies invoices

Personal items

Court papers

Greeting cards

Love letters

Printed photos

If you have children

School information (newsletters, report cards, etc)

School projects, schoolwork, etc.

Extracurricular activities forms

Art related (drawings, paintings etc.)

 

***remember you are doing one category at a time before moving onto the next category. Take each of the following and repeat per category. Spend only 15 minutes at a time on each step if it is too much to do all at once. Some action is better than no action at all! I’m here if you have any questions or concerns***

STEPS

  1. With each category, collect all of those papers in one area (even if it has to be on the floor in your home office) you need to make sure you see all of what you have in one place. Trust me, this part can be shocking. (This step alone you could do in 15 minutes)
  2. Divide that category into three separate piles;
    • Things that require action (receipts for things that need to be returned/exchanged, bills that need to be paid, client invoices to be sent out, etc.)
    • Anything that needs to be filed
    • Papers that need to be tossed/recycled/shredded
  3. Anything you have put into the “papers that need to be tossed/recycled/shredded” pile (from above), do so now. This gets rid of the papers you no longer need which clears more space (physically and  mentally) for the papers you do need.

 

Hand putting paper into shredder machine, on office interior background
Anything you have in the toss/recycle/shred pile, discard now.

 

Take a moment and look at all the progress you have done.

Notice how much clearer your space and your mind are? It really does make a huge difference to clear away the clutter (and this is just clearing the paper clutter).

Be proud of what you have already accomplished!

You have taken a huge step towards amazing results and if you need someone to hold your hand through this process, I’m here.

 

Now, you should have two piles left (you have already tossed/recycled/shredded the pile of papers you no longer needed); things that require action and things that need to be filed.

 

Let’s start with the requires action pile.

I suggest separating this pile into two piles;

  • Due before the 15th of each month
  • Due after the 15th of each month

 

Easy right? If you want to separate these even further, you could do business related versus personal (so you would have four piles all together at this point).

 

Actions needed done before the 15th and after the 15th of each month
Actions needed done before the 15th and after the 15th of each month

 

Designate ONE area within the house where you will put all papers that require action. I suggest a family command centre (usually in the kitchen, which is where most people hang out/do their daily activities). You want it where you will see it, you have easy access to it and everyone in the house knows about it.

 

My personal favourite way to organize these particular papers; a wall mounted magazine rack.

(See picture below…no that lady is not me lol)

 

Magazine racks to hold your "action required" papers
Magazine racks to hold your “action required” papers

 

When the time has come where you have taken action for that paper (ex. Paid that particular bill, sent out the client invoice, etc), it’s time to file the papers properly.

 

Now let’s deal with the papers that need to be filed.

 

I personally love the simplicity of three main file systems; family, fun, and fact:

  • Family

  • any files that are to do with the home or family.
  • Examples: medical records, educational, pets, kids, home maintenance.
  • You can choose one colour file folder for anything family related. I suggest magenta/red as it is the emotional colour of love

    Fun

  • any files that are related to fun activities
  • Examples; vacation planning, home decorating, sentimental cards, etc.
  • You can choose one colour file folder for anything fun related. I suggest yellow as it is the colour for optimism like fun.

    Fact

  • any files that are related to legal or financial matters
  • Examples; taxes, property, insurance, receipts for big-ticket items, manuals for electronics, client files, court, etc.
  • You can choose one colour file folder for anything fact related. I suggest cyan/blue as it is the trust colour.

 

If you don’t already have one, you may want to get a filing cabinet. There are many different options out there, some people have even used filing cabinets as part of their desk set-up or as an ottoman. Some people have two filing cabinets where one cabinet is for personal files and the other cabinet business related.

(see photos below).

 

*I may get commissions for purchases made through affiliate links in this post*

 

Many options for creating a filing system that works with your decor and function of your home
Many options for creating a filing system that works with your decor and function of your home

 

What if you don’t have the room for a filing cabinet? Try colored binders. Again, going with the suggested colours above (magenta/red for family, yellow for fun and cyan/blue for fact). You can either get those top loading plastic pages or just punch holes into each piece of paper (separated by dividers for specific labels).

This process takes a lot longer, but is still very effective.

 

Designate ONE area where all papers need to be filed. My personal favourite is in your home office (yeah I may be bias about that lol). If you don’t have a home office than I suggest the ottoman filing system as it can be used for seating and filing and can be placed in your living/family room. Function meets practicality.

The main idea here is to do 15 minute spurts at a time. If you can do more, great!  If not, don’t sweat it. Purging and organizing your home office, specifically the paper clutter, is a process not just a quick fix.

This process is to get you into creating an (uncomplicated) organized system that works for your daily life.

When you keep things to one area of the home,  it eliminates the need “to think” where something goes. Therefore, the actions of bringing in the papers and doing something with them, right away, becomes more like second nature. This creates space in your mind to focus on more productive things like your business, clients and making more money in your business.

 

 

I hope this helped with the paper clutter in your home. Don’t forget to download your checklist. If you have any questions or concerns or need a professional opinion, please feel free to contact me or visit my blog.

 

I would love to see pictures of your process so please email them to me and let me know how purging and organizing has changed your mind, life and your business.

 

 

From my desk to yours,

 

 

Heather Clark

 

 

4 thoughts on “How to clear the paper clutter

  1. This is one great post Heather! I really enjoyed reading it.
    I need to start learning to be clean and stop being a clutter bug! If I would do what you say above I could get my area’s cleaned up
    in no time.

    All The Best
    Edward Haberthur

    1. Thanks Edward. And yes, these simple actionable steps are easy to follow, and at 15 minute spurts, you’ll be clutter free! If you need help don’t hesitate to ask, I love doing this.

  2. I find this so helpful. I’m good with PLANS, and this makes me realize how easy it really can be. I’ve been trying to do just this, but you’ve reminded me that we really do need a family command center. Unfortunately, that currently is our kitchen island. I look at that area over and over and over, and I can’t seem to figure out the best way to remedy.

    1. Hey Lydia! I’m working on my next blog post…..about family command centres and the easy “how to” even when space is limited.

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