Do you ever wish you can blink and your paper piles will all go away? As much as I wish that were true, it’s not. And the reality is, if you don’t get a handle on them, those paper piles will come back. I guarantee it. In fact, if I was a betting girl, I’d put money on it. But, I have good news for you. The paper pile monster does not have to live in your house. This post will show you how to organize paper clutter once and for all!
What is paper clutter?
Paper clutter comes in all sorts of ways, shapes, and sizes. From what the kids come home from school with, to bills piling up, to all those little reminder notes and to-do lists. We all have intentions when it comes to sorting paper, but don’t be fooled…papers seem to have a mind of their own.
The piles of paper never really happen overnight. Life gets busy and over time we do the same thing again and again. We walk into the house, set our stuff down, and there it is. More often than not, we walk by that paper pile that has grown over time and ignore it. Or better yet, we no longer realize it is even there.
Then one day, you get an unexpected call from family who is in town and they want to come over. And there it is. You can see it now, that stack of paper staring at you. And at that moment you wish that you had a system in place for all of the paper that enters your home.
Guess what? I have news for you- you can conquer paper clutter. It will take discipline to deal with all paper head-on, but your house AND your sanity will thank you for it.
Get Rid of Paper Clutter and Paper Piles Once and For All
Can I confess something? It took me years to learn how to get a handle on paper clutter. I had paper piles everywhere! And the biggest reason was that I was afraid to lose something.
I was also afraid that if I didn’t leave all those “important” papers out in the open, I’d forget something. But that thinking would always backfire on me. Sure enough, I would inevitably lose something. And let’s not talk about how forgetful I was.
You see, what weighed me down more than anything was the paper clutter! Let’s face it, clutter can rob us of our sanity! So, I want to share with you the seven things that have helped me conquer paper clutter once and for all.
How to Organize Paper Clutter in 7 Easy Steps
1. Go through the mail as soon as you collect it
Junk mail is probably the number one way our counters collect paper piles! Mail comes in, we get busy and distracted, mail sits. Repeat, except this time, mail piles up.
Going through the mail immediately upon collecting it can help with it turning into another paper pile. Throw away what you do not need right then and there. It gets easier and easier and then you will start to feel empowered by taking action and as such you will begin to eliminate paper clutter.
2. Complete school forms right away and return the next day
Once school starts, our kids come home with so many papers to sign and fill out. It has thankfully switched to online form completion for the most part. However, there are weeks when those papers still come fast and furious.
And when they do, I make sure to get to them as soon as I can and get them back in my kid’s backpacks immediately. Being intentional about completing school papers as soon as they arrive has tremendously helped me conquer paper clutter. This has also helped with forgetting about a school permission slip!
3. Shred documents immediately when no longer needed
I’m going to give you a little tough love and trust me I speak from experience. Promise not to be mad at me? Here goes…don’t create another paper pile called the “to be shredded pile”.
Y’all, let me tell you, I was so guilty of this, to the point where we moved boxes and boxes of “to be shredded” piles with us halfway across the country. Translate: we PAID movers to move these piles. Yep! And guess what we did with those boxes after we moved? We finally got so sick of these boxes that we went through them all and had them shredded.
I will never forget the day that our community held the North Texas Shred Day and we pulled up with all of our boxes (don’t worry, Iron Mountain bins are secure). We pulled up in our assigned lane, and handed those boxes over and watched ALL. OF. THE. PAPER. get dumped into the secure bin for shredding.
Phew, what a relief!
Nowadays, we don’t have a “to be shredded” pile. Those papers just get shredded.
4. Utilize binders to hold important papers
In order to keep those papers that are actually important (we all know not everything is), try storing them in a binder. The fun thing about binders is you can personalize them and color code them based on how you want to keep your important papers.
Binders are a wonderful place to keep things like receipts, budget items, bill tracker forms, taxes, and meal planning items. I use my binders for all of them. And even my blogging coursework.
5. Cancel subscriptions you are no longer interested in
Piles of unread magazines can stack up real quick, not to mention they cost money. Instead of having magazines or other subscriptions come through the mail in a physical more, try switching to a digital format if you must continue your subscription.
This option is also more advantageous because you can bring your digital product with you on your phone or tablet as they are portable. I have found that digital subscriptions are also cheaper as there are not the overhead expenses like there are with a physical product.
So, not only are you preventing a paper pile from starting, but you are also saving yourself some cash. I call that a win!
6. Keep your notes in an app on your phone
So, this one was probably the hardest for me. I love post-it notes. Especially the pretty ones. Don’t get me wrong, I still use them. But, I have scaled way back compared to before.
That is because I started using the Notes app on my phone.
This has significantly cut down on little papers everywhere and helps keep my house neater. So, instead of writing out that last-minute grocery list when I need a few items, I simply note it on my phone. Makes shopping a whole lot easier too.
7. Eliminate paper clutter by switching to online banking
Online banking has been huge for us. Not only are we no longer getting bank statements by mail, but we also have our bills paid by auto-draft. One less thing to have to remember.
Now, one thing I will say about this is it does not take the place of having a budget and knowing what is in your account. Online banking is not a free pass to ignore your financial situation.
It is however a means to eliminate paper clutter that easily adds up with bank statements and bills. In my opinion, it is also more secure than mailing deposits or payments to the bank.
If you are tired of paper clutter taking over your house, I highly encourage you to consider implementing some of these tips I’ve mentioned. Start with one at a time if you are completely overwhelmed with all the piles. Slowly make your way to complete them all and you will see the changes happen.
Here’s to kicking the paper pile monster out of the house once and for all!