Spring Clean Your Life: Step 10 – Reduce Paper Clutter in 9 Steps

Hi There!

I hope you you’re all having a fantastic weekend however you’re spending it. I’m enjoying a nice “quiet” Sunday morning after a pretty lively past few days. I started working on this post a week ago and really wanted to finish it before Friday — the official day of summer. But alas, the past several days were just too jam-packed and so here I am with this post a couple days into summer. I hope you all understand.

For the past couple of months, I have taken you through the first 9 steps of the “Spring Clean Your Life” series. We have finally reached the last step — the dreaded monster that is paper clutter. If you are not one of the many who suffer from this difficult-to-tame beast, please tell me your secrets!! If, like me, you’re working on establishing a system that will work for you, please take a look at the suggestions and tips below. They will definitely help you to take back some control and reduce the paper trail in your home.

1. Create a mail sorting center

I have found that if you address your mail immediately as it enters your home, you can cut down on about 80% of your overall paper clutter. What has been most effective for me has been to create a mail “command” center. Having one place where all my mail is deposited (that is NOT the coffee table, kitchen counter, or dining table) has been tremendously helpful.

I tried a few different options before finding the one that worked right for me. I will not recommend one particular system over another to you because we are all different and a sorting system that may work great for me may not work best for someone else. That said, I will share with you some of the cool ones I’ve seen and will also share what’s working well for me in a future post if you’re curious. Here are some of my favorites:

Source: Hi Sugarplum!
Source: Hi Sugarplum!
Source: Sweet Home Style
Source: Sweet Home Style
Source: Better Homes & Gardens
Source: Better Homes & Gardens
Source: Everything in its Place
Source: Everything in its Place
Source: Romer Family Ramblings
Source: Romer Family Ramblings

2. Make a magazine system

In my home, the biggest clutter offender is my magazines. Reading magazines of all kinds is one of my favorite hobbies. But unfortunately I haven’t been able to read them as quickly as I would like to, and they end up just piling up everywhere around the house. If you have the same problem, here is what I would recommend:

  1. Take stock of which magazines you’re actually reading and enjoying. If a few of them aren’t making the cut, unsubscribe. There’s no point in receiving them if you’re not getting any benefit and they’re only adding to the paper chaos.
  2. For the magazines you have received but haven’t yet had a chance to read, corral them all together in a basket or bin that is strictly dedicated to them. Don’t just put them out of sight, though, because as they say – out of sight, out of mind. Make sure you store them somewhere you’ll still notice them but out of the way of the most heavily trafficked areas of your home. I keep a basket beside my nightstand which holds my magazines because I usually get to do my reading right before bed.
  3. Absolutely do not keep any magazines that are over a year old, even if it’s one of your favorites. Believe me, I’ve done that thinking that I would most certainly need to reference them again–guess how many I’ve actually referenced after I’ve read them? Ze-ro. If you’re having trouble parting with a particularly juicy issue, tear out the articles that most interest you and stick them in a binder to reference later. But chuck the  rest. No good can come of piles and piles of magazines all over your home. It’ll only add to your anxiety.

3. Reduce junk mail

So much of what is showing up in my mailbox on a daily basis is complete crap that I have no use for and didn’t even ask for. It’s maddening and end up standing over the trash can for several minutes tearing all the useful junk up. What a waste of time…and paper.

Try a site like Catalog Choice, which allows you to opt out of receiving tons of junk mail from different companies. You should also take a look at the helpful Consumer Information from the Federal Trade Commission on how to stop unsolicited mail, phone calls, and email.

Doing so will at least reduce the amount of mail you receive, as well as the quality of what you’re receiving. You’ll spend your time sorting through the stuff that actually matters instead of grumbling about what doesn’t.

4. Request e-statements

You can also cut the amount of paper mail coming into your home by opting to receive monthly e-statements from your bank instead of paper versions. There are many credit card companies and utility companies that can do the same if you’d rather shift completely to paperless.

5. Make a recipe binder

Instead of the piles of random recipes you’ve torn out of above-mentioned magazines, why not house them in one place for reference? A recipe binder is the perfect solution. You can either make your own with the help of tons of free templates that are available online or purchase one. These are massively helpful at organizing all the recipes from various publications you know you want to try someday.

Source: Etsy shop 1canoe2 - Letterpress Recipe Card Binder Kit
Source: Etsy shop 1canoe2 – Letterpress Recipe Card Binder Kit

6. Organize with document boxes

Document boxes are seriously genius! Especially ones like the below version offered from Paper Source, which has a label nameplate on the outside making it incredibly easy to discern the box’s contents from afar. These are excellent tools to use in your home office space to organize your documents and other papers in a visually appealing – but out of the way – manner. I’ll also show you another excellent use for document boxes in a future blog post. Stay tuned!

Source: Paper Source
Source: Paper Source

7. Empty your purse contents daily

This sounds incredibly obvious, right? But how many of us actually empty our purse contents of all the receipts and other miscellaneous paper items that weight it down on a daily basis and address it all immediately? I can say that I. Do. Not. But five minutes is all it takes, and don’t we have five minutes to spare? I can give myself give minutes for the sake of peace of mind and an orderly life. At the end of the day, take a quick look through your purse and remove any paper. Don’t just set it in a pile on your dresser. Throw away anything unneeded right away. File receipts you need to hang onto. There. How easy was that?

8. Invest in a shredder

If you do not already have a shredder, get thee to a Target or Staples or Office Max to pick one up immediately! They’re reasonably priced and very convenient. They’ll make ridding yourself of information-sensitive and other papers a breeze. And there’s something almost therapeutic about the act of using a shredder. Consider it meditative!

9. Use online aggregating websites to your advantage

Last but not least, instead of keeping notebooks and lists galore (even though you know I’m a fan of both), why not try using Pinterest or Evernote to organize your ideas for different projects? Let them take up your virtual computer space, not your actual space.

What other methods for containing paper clutter do you swear by?


Resource Links

Curb Paper Clutter At Home – Woman’s Day

What to Shred – About.com Personal Organizing

How Long to Keep Documents – About.com Personal Organizing

2 thoughts on “Spring Clean Your Life: Step 10 – Reduce Paper Clutter in 9 Steps

  1. This is something I definitely need to work on!! I actually bought something to sort mail into with good intentions, and used it for a week, before I fell into my old routine of using the dining room table as a catch-all for mail. I think it really is important to go through your mail and sort it as you bring it into your house, as that’s where most of my mess is coming from!! I’m going to try to make it a priority this week to actually use my mail-sorting container!

  2. This is an area that I really needed improvement on too. I can’t stand to see envelopes and magazines spread throughout the house. Now I’m using a mailing system that has really simplified things for me. I’ll share it in a post soon! Good luck implementing your own system…let me know what you decide to do!

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