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  • Writer's pictureSouth Coast Organizers

Conquer Paper Clutter in 4 Easy Steps

Do you awake suddenly in the middle of the night wondering where your birth certificate is? Are there piles of papers scattered throughout your house? Are you not sure what to do once you open your mail? You are not alone!

Paper clutter burdens so many of us, including me! From mail to kid’s schoolwork, papers seem to be never ending. Piles of disorganized papers stress us out, make us feel disorganized, and waste our time and energy. Want to conquer your paper clutter once and for all? Follow these steps to create your very own paper clutter system.

Step 1

Choose a home for your existing paperwork

Where are you going to keep your files? Do you have a home office? A filing cabinet? Try a file box that can be tucked away in a closet or in a cabinet. The point is, CHOOSE a home for the papers to go.

Step 2

Choose a home for incoming paperwork

I’m talking about daily mail, newsletters and art from your child’s school, etc. Whatever papers are coming into your house need to have a home. Keep it simple. I use two magazine holders labeled “To File” and “Needs Attention”. Have kids? Get them each a magazine holder and have them put their papers in it daily. Paper trays and desk files also work great for sorting papers as they enter the house.

Pro-tip: Reduce visual clutter by having opaque file holders/magazine holders. Clear and open files tend to look messy.

Step 3

Create your categories

Once you’ve determined homes for existing and incoming paperwork, it’s time to get started going through all the papers you already have. I want you to walk through your entire house and gather up every single paper you see. Yes, I’m serious, EVERY SINGLE PAPER. Pile them all together on a large surface so you can spread things out. Grab some sticky notes and start to write out your categories. Some examples are: home, health, car, pets, receipts, taxes etc.

Choose a category for every single piece of paper and place it in a pile together. Sorting them into like categories before purging will help with decision fatigue. Looking at strictly car paperwork will help you to decide what are the most important documents that you need to keep versus looking at all different types of papers.

Pro-tip: Make a category for sentimental items. These might be items that don’t NEED to be kept but are important to you. This will give a home for greeting cards, notes, or drawings that are special and need to be kept.

Step 4

Purge and File

Now that all of your papers are sorted PURGE PURGE PURGE. Here are some questions to help you determine if an item needs to be kept.

  • Is this an essential document?

  • Can I get this online?

  • What’s the worst that will happen if I throw this away?

  • If I do keep it, for how long?

After purging through each category, make a file folder with a label to put these papers in. And there’s your filing system!

Set a weekly reminder to purge and file paperwork. Consistency is key to preventing a paper clutter pile!

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