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How to Get Rid of Paper Clutter

August 5th, 2008

paper-clutter-get-rid-of.jpgOrganizing paper clutter is an issue that practically everyone who has a home or business has to deal with at some point. Even here in the home office of Karlonia, various papers such as keyword lists, receipts for web hosting bills, and printed articles have gradually increased their presence and found their way into semi-organized piles to the left of my keyboard. Fortunately, I have been able to control the “paper tiger” reasonably well by periodically discarding papers that contain old, outdated information that I no longer need to keep.

Other people, however, often end up dealing with a greater volume of paper than I do and may become overwhelmed if they let it go for very long. This article by April Aragam provides some tips for how to control clutter within a typical household environment.


Maybe you walk into someone else’s home and see something very unlike your home. They don’t have paper clutter all over the place. You may think that they must not have as much to handle as you do. Unfortunately, there are probably few people who don’t have paper constantly coming into their home. The difference is a matter of organization — you can learn this skill too. Here’s how:

1. Collect All Loose Papers

Loose papers are usually the greatest contributors to clutter. And there’s usually so much of it. Every day we just add on to the already overflowing piles. End that today by collecting all papers into one pile. From here sort through the papers, dividng them into only two categories: recycle and keep.

Tip: When throwing away sensitive papers (anything with names, address, birthdates, account info of any kind etc.) shred or rip them up thoroughly.

2. Create A Paper Place

Now that you have decluttered the all the papers from around your home, you now need to designate places to put incoming paper (that you know will find its way to your house in about 2 minutes). Think of all of the papers that come into your home: mail, flyers, receipts, school papers, artwork, newspapers etc. Everything needs a designated place.

Start first with recycling boxes. Place one in the kitchen and one in each bedroom. If you have a home office, you will need one there as well. Now when the mail comes in, open it all and toss the envelopes and little advertisements into a recycling bin. Put the bills in their place on the desk where you write out checks or in your purse where they can easily be found when you go to the bank.

Make sure newspapers don’t pile up for years. Put them out at least once a week. Anytime a piece of paper that you consider junk comes into your home, toss it into a recycling box. Kids come home with more papers than you could ever imagine. Accordion filers are a good way to keep these papers under control.

If you can deal with papers as soon as they enter your home, your paper clutter will never reappear or be something that overwhelms you again.



3 Responses to “How to Get Rid of Paper Clutter”

  1. comment number 1 by: Richard McLaughlin

    My last job was at Microsoft and I spent 3 years before I printed. When I finally did need to print people thought it strange that the IT director didn’t know where the printer was or how to connect to it.

    When my daughter visited, she wanted to print in color so I asked a colleague to let her use his PC to play and print.

    Paper annoys me.

  2. comment number 2 by: Ireland5

    The key for paper clutter or any other kind of clutter is to have a specific place for everything. That’s both the problem and the solution.

  3. comment number 3 by: A. Caleb Hartley

    Paper Clutter has always been my home’s biggest clutter problem. I’m a paper pack rat. Any time I see an article in the newspaper or a magazine that I think will be beneficial in the future or to my business(es), I cut it out or tear it out, and it ends up in a pile of other articles that rarely gets looked at, and ultimately gets thrown away.

    I think that clutter control is mostly willpower. It’s easy to set incoming papers on a table or something than it is to actually file them properly in the office immediately or take them to a recycle bin as soon as they arrive.

    It comes down to choice, I think - is it more important to you to have a clutter-free home, or to save the 5-30 seconds it would take to recycle the chaff and file the important stuff?

    Namaste,
    A. Caleb Hartley

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