Do you want to know how to eliminate paper clutter from your home? Or at least, reduce them substantially? In this post, I will show you how to reduce those piles of paper that seem to accumulate in each corner of your home, in just 4 steps, and a couple of days.
All you have to do is check every room in the house for everything paper: bills, receipts, magazines, books, coupons, etc. Then, make piles of paper organized by categories.
Paper piles are annoying. I can not tell you how much I despise seeing papers lying around my house. My husband brings receipts, daily; our son’s schoolwork never stops, and the paper in the mail keeps coming in regardless of how many paperless bills I sign up for.
With tax season in full force, you might need to start getting your paperwork in order for your accountant. Or, if you prepare your taxes yourself, it is even more important that you tackle the paper clutter sooner than later. Don’t leave it until the last minute.
1. Make Room for All The Paper
First and foremost, you will need to find or reserve a large surface where you are going to place the paper piles. This could be a large desk, a kitchen counter, or a dining table.
You are probably going to need that area all week, so make sure you can use it for that period without having to move things around. An empty bed or floor area could work too.
2. Make Rounds Around The House
With a large basket in hand (I like to use a laundry basket), make rounds around the house and search all drawers, counters, desks, and any other place where you think you might have saved or ut away papers.
These are some of the papers you should be looking for:
- Correspondence (letters, invitations, unopened envelopes)
- Magazines, catalogs, or any other printed material
- School paperwork
Pile up everything you find inside that basket, and depending on the amount of paper you find, you might need to empty out the basket on your empty desk or surface (step one) and make another round.
While making your rounds, try to make decisions on the spot. If there is any kind of paper, receipt, coupon, invitation, etc. that you know for sure you won’t be needing, toss it or recycle it immediately. Just double-check that there isn’t any personal and confidential information in it, such as bank account numbers, Social Security, credit card numbers, insurance policy numbers, etc. These kinds of documents should be shredded.
Making instant decluttering decisions will save you plenty of time in the long run.
3. Sort the Papers
On your empty surface (step 1), place 4 empty boxes or baskets, preferably the size of a letter-sized paper or bigger. Take a marker or a post-it and label each box or basket as follows: file, take action, delegate, and toss.
Now you are ready to tackle your paper clutter. Bring your basket full of paper next to you, pull up a chair, and start sorting.
- File: place inside this box any paper that does not need any action but needs to be filed (or saved). These could be paid bills, important letters or documents, school projects, etc.
- Take Action: place inside this box any paper that needs an action taken (whether it is now or in a few weeks). These could be bills to pay, invitations you need to call and RSVP, school papers that need to be signed, etc.
- Delegate: place inside this box any paper that needs to be referred to someone else for that person to make a decision. These are usually credit card offers, product catalogs, magazines, etc.
- Toss: place inside this box any paper that can be tossed or recycled, or needs to be shredded.
4. Stack Books and Magazines
Because of their size and nature, you are not going to sort books or magazines inside the boxes mentioned in step 3. Instead, stack them in a corner until you are ready to make a decision at a later date.
If you feel like you can make an instant decision, do so. I have a hard time parting with books, so I can understand if that is something that you don’t want to part with either. However, consider finding a place for all of them where you can save them and access them easily.
Magazines are my favorite too, but I have learned to let go of them by subscribing to digital editions or making scrapbooks with my favorite pages. I have a post where I show you ways to declutter without guilt.
Dive Deeper into Piles of Paper
No pun intended. But if you want to dive deeper into organizing paper at home, check out my 8 tips for organizing paper at home.
Within a week, you will see how your house is free of paper clutter. Or, at least, it is concealed in those boxes until you can make and take decisions.