How to Organize Paper Clutter
Nothing can make a room look messier than piles of paper. Somehow dining room tables, desks, kitchen counter tops, and dressers become magnets to all things paper in a family’s home! Bills, magazines, children’s artwork, and product manuals just pile up, creating “organized confusion” even for those of us who swear we have a system. It’s not only messy-looking; paper collects dust and can attract bugs. It’s not exactly environmentally friendly, either. So what’s the solution? Here are a few tips for how to organize paper clutter.
Create paper-free zones.
Regardless of what fantastic method you put into place, you’re bound to drop a piece of paper somewhere when you’re in a hurry. Tell yourself right off the bat that there are certain areas this is simply not allowed to happen. In the past, my dining room table often became a drop zone, making my otherwise (semi) clean home look disheveled. My new rule is no paper clutter on the table or in the living room. At least this way, I always feel ready for company and always have room to eat and play with my kids.
Deal with it right away.
Put paper clutter in its proper place as soon as it enters your home. Open the mail, recycle what you can, shred what you can’t, and file bills, receipts and children’s paperwork away immediately. Rip out the articles or recipes from magazines you are saving and put them into plastic sleeves in a binder. Drop your collection of magazines and catalogues off at the hair salon, gym, doctor’s office or schools. Whether you hang it on the fridge, utilize an inbox, or stick it in your planner, get into the habit of sorting incoming paper right away.
Opt for e-billing statements and invoices when you can. Minimize the flow of paper that comes in to begin with by opting out of all mailings you have control over. Save documents as PDF’s instead of printing them. Take digital photos of your children’s two-dimensional art projects, and recycle the originals. (Admit it: not everything is worth saving, and no, they will not want it when they’re adults…unless it’s hilarious!)
Make a filing box or cabinet your best friend.
For the remaining paper you absolutely have to keep, purchase a filing cabinet or box, depending on how much you have. A single person can often get away with a simple, file box. These days, you can find a lot of Pinterest tutorials on how to give the larger, metal, filing cabinets some personality. You can even get colorful folders for inside. (Do whatever you have to do to encourage yourself to use this thing once you’ve got it!) Create specific categories for the folders, such as yearly tax folders versus a single folder, overflowing with general tax documents. Designate a folder for each child and pet in your home. Separate everyone’s medical records and school papers. Don’t forget to go through periodically and shred outdated documents. Toss product warranties and instruction manuals for items you no longer have.
I’d love to know, how do you keep your paper clutter under control? Let us know in the comments below!