Do you have piles and stacks of paper littering your desk, tables, and countertops? You’re not alone. But you can develop a good system for getting rid of paper clutter for good. Here are 15 tips for finally getting your papers organized.
1. Paper Clutter Sorting and Storing Strategy
First, you need to cut down on the amount of junk mail that’s delivered to your mailbox. CatalogChoice and DMAchoice are both free services that allow you to opt out of certain types of mail, like catalogs and phone books. Handy, right? And if you implement a “touch it once” policy, even if it’s just for the junk mail, you’ll keep a lot of clutter out of your home, to begin with.
Now, for the stuff, you do want to keep…
Set up a sorting and storing area that the entire family can use. What do you do with receipts, important documents, and bills as they come flooding through the door? Get paper pile-ups and countertop clutter under control with this clever idea. It could be available right when you walk through the door so that receipts, bills, and “hot” items can be taken care of ASAP. Or it could even be in a high traffic area like the office or the kitchen so everyone has access to the sorting area.
2. Put Receipts in a Holding Station
A jar by the door is also a great receipt receptacle. You can easily put receipts in the jar the minute you walk through the door because it’s a convenient place to eliminate paper clutter immediately. Any clear jar will work and you can even add your own label. Then once a week, you can go through the receipts (record, file, toss or even shred the ones you no longer need). You can get as organized as you like with the receipt system, but remember to use it.
3. How Long to Keep Each Kind of Paper?
Have you ever sat in front of a pile of papers, and you couldn’t figure out how long to keep some of this stuff? Is this important or is this junk? Going through papers that you’ve been putting off, can be an overwhelming project. Trying to figure out what to file and what to toss, like paycheck stubs or ATM deposit slips, is enough to make you wanna pull your hair out. To find out how long you need to keep certain papers (your tax forms, for example), print out this handy sheet.
Do I keep things for:
- 1 month
- 1-3 years
- At least 7 years
It’s tough to decide, but this chart should help you.
4. File Your Papers in a Portable File Folder
Sometimes you just need to file your papers in something compact that you can work out of, like this accordion folder. This gives you several folders in one slim package, that acts as a portable file box for minimal clutter on the go. The accordion folder system is perfect to organize papers when you travel, or if you just want a quick and easy way to file at home. You can get these in all sorts of colors, sizes, and some fancy stuff too, like cute tabs, and zippered closures.
5. A Place for Your Scrapbook Items
Have you ever wanted to do a scrapbook project, but couldn’t find the supplies you needed? Putting your supplies in one handy place is a wonderful idea. A set of these cheap plastic drawers is a great way to keep all those pretty scrapbook papers organized. You could also print labels for the front of the drawers too, so it’s easy to see what’s inside.
6. Stop Paper Clutter With a Pretty Filing Basket
Hate the look of file cabinets because they look tacky? No problem. A pretty basket and coordinating files are a great way to store papers that you need to keep. At first glance, this doesn’t even look like a file cabinet; it’s so elegant. It’s also portable, so you can move it into another room when you want to tidy up your counters.
7. Sort Your Papers With a Wire Basket for the Wall
A wall-mounted wire basket comes in handy as a mail sorter if you only have time to go through papers once a week. This can be mounted close to the front door, so it’s less likely papers will be set down in a drop zone. I love this idea because it’s easy to remember to take care of the papers that need to be filed. You look at them every time you pass the front door and it helps with organization.
8. Prevent Clutter with a DIY Paper Sorter for the Wall
Or you can make your own paper sorter out of some pretty fabric and tags. You could use some elastic or ribbon depending on where you’re hanging it, like on your wall or around your door. This requires a little bit of sewing, but if you don’t want to do that, you could probably pick up some fabric glue instead. Most fabric stores or box stores should have everything you’ll need for this project.
9. Stop Clutter With a Place for Incoming Paper
This blogger separates her papers into one of 7 categories. And you have to admit, her organizational system is really beautiful. You’ll want to choose a place for your paper organization, like in an office, or by the front door. Most paper clutter is caused by junk mail, so if you toss the junk mail immediately, you’ve gotten rid of 75% of the problem. If you don’t have time to go through the rest of it right then, use a basket to hold the papers until you can get to them.
10. Frame Your Kiddos Artwork
As a mom, I tend to want to hang on to all of my kiddo’s scribbles, paintings, and drawings, but that adds up to some major paper clutter. I love this idea of photographing or scanning them, creating one photo collage, and framing it. This is so much better than having their art stuffed away in a bin somewhere. Isn’t it beautiful?
11. Turn Kid’s Paper Art into a Photobook
What a fun way to keep your children’s artwork from turning into paper clutter! Photobooks of your kids’ masterpieces are an excellent way to cut down on the piles of paper. In today’s digital world, it’s super easy to create your one-of-a-kind photobook keepsake. Just type into google the words you want to look up, like “creating a photo book for kids”. There are so many different options out there, so have fun.
12. Keep Tax Paperwork Separate
Who dreads tax season? Keep all of your tax paperwork in a separate filing box, especially if you’re self-employed. It will save you a lot of digging around later. With all your tax documents and receipts in one place, filing should be a breeze. This will simplify the process when it’s time to file taxes but don’t forget to file them in your special box during the year.
13. Tame the Paper Clutter With a DIY Bulletin Board
Bulletin boards are great for an at-a-glance look at recent papers that have entered your house. Just wrap this cork board in burlap and pretty it up a bit. It’s a great place to keep your keys, letters that need to be mailed, or coupons as you head out the door to go shopping. But don’t keep papers there long; otherwise, you just have a paper pile on a bulletin board rather than on your table!
14. Mail and Bill Payment Center
We’ve all dealt with a place in our house where the mail seems to pile up. And nobody likes looking at paper clutter sitting around the house. Having a designated space to pay bills and process papers can go a long way toward eliminating paper piles around your home. How cool is this (a mail and bill payment center)? What a handy way to organize your home and clear the paper clutter at the same time.
15. Organize School Work in Separate File Box
When school starts, papers flood in the door, and it’s tough to get a handle on what to keep and where to put it. Having a separate file box to put those special keepsake school papers in is genius. I remember having tons of school papers that I just couldn’t part with, and I didn’t know where to store them. I also didn’t know how to find certain ones, once they were put away. Now I can have a special place to file them and I’ll know where they are so they won’t get damaged.
By tackling the paper when it first comes into your home and implementing a one-touch policy, you can get rid of your paper clutter once and for all. This includes all those papers that make their way into your home from school because that’s neverending. As soon as you see a school paper that you know you’ll wanna keep, file it away in your box for schoolwork. You’ll be happy you did.
Check out These Other Clever Ways to Get Rid of Clutter
Declutter Your Home in 9 Simple Steps
18 Storage Ideas to Hide Clutter
11 Genius Kids’ Art Display Ideas to Reduce Clutter
Ideas for a Clutter-Free Medicine Cabinet