You’ve told me so many times: “I struggle so badly with paper clutter!” When asked what your biggest home management struggle is, you say that you just can’t get a grip on all the paper junk that seems to be taking over your house.
I’ve been thinking on this like a cow chews on its cud…that just means, a long time. I like analogies.
In The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and then again in her second book, Spark Joy, she tackles this subject head on. I highly recommend reading both books, but for the sake of your immediate need to get rid of this problem, I shall paraphrase for ya…and I like that as much as analogies.
Also, if you’d rather skip this and have a listen, I’ve got a You Tube video of this post at the bottom.
How to Declutter Paper:
Discard everything. The end.
If only it were that easy, right? But really…it is.
When trying to get out from under all your paper clutter, think of it this way – you need to decide what to KEEP, not what to TRASH. It makes the process so much easier for you.
As you’re looking through a stack of papers, it’s easier to think “Hmmmm, I should probably keep this one.” Instead of “Dude, look at all this junk I have to decide to throw out.” See? Easy.
Tackle your paper clutter all at once. It might take the entire day, but think of how much better you’ll feel when it’s DONE. And going forward, with the right mindset, hopefully you won’t find yourself buried in the same stack.
Don’t stop to take care of things as you’re deciding what to keep. Instead, have a box where you can place “pending” items. Doing this will help you get done faster – because as we all know, stopping to do something can eventually lead to SQUIRREL!!!! Oh…what was I doing a minute ago? I forgot. Let’s go watch Netflix.
As soon as you’re done with your work, immediately set to working on your pending items.
What should you keep?
When it comes down to it, you really need very little paper in your life. You should keep items you need for taxes. You should keep things that make you joyous. You should keep butter until you eat it. That’s a good rule.
- Course materials. Just chuck these, dude. I can honestly say from all the classes that I’ve taken online, if I don’t implement my new ideas IMMEDIATELY, I just don’t. I never go back and re-read that stuff. Take a class. Implement what you learn. We need to start doing things NOW instead of always waiting. When we wait, we do nothing.
- Statements. Try to go paperless if possible. If you can’t, as your bills and statements come in, verify them immediately, make payments if necessary, and then shred OR keep those needed for taxes.
- Warranties. You should have ONE place to keep all these types of things. Keep the warranty stapled to your receipt. And when it expires, use it as kindling in the woodstove.
- Manuals. I rarely keep manuals. Honestly, I can only think of one that I’ve ever even consulted. And yet, they can quickly take over your home…because even your watch comes with one! Anything you need can be found online – and if the world comes to an end and we have no internet, then you probably won’t be concerned with how to use a certain feature on the coffee pot.
- Greeting Cards. This is a doozy. Let me set you free. Just throw them all out. Marie Kondo says that once you receive and read a card, it has fulfilled its purpose. You can discard it with joy. I used to keep all the cards I received. They literally filled boxes in my attic. Now, they are all gone and I don’t miss them at.all. However, now as cards come in, I do keep ones that spark joy or happiness.
- Clippings. Pitch them, unless you have plans to display them. If a certain clipping brings you lots of happiness, don’t store it in a drawer. How can you see that?! Find a way to display and enjoy it. Otherwise…bye, bye Newsday Weekly article.
What has worked for our family
Clear “Treasure” Boxes
Each one of us has a clear tote box in our closet – it is in this box that we keep “treasures.” Each person chooses what to keep. For example, in mine right now you might find: positive pregnancy tests, letters from Barry, and a few things the kids colored for me.
Having ONE area to put such items keeps the mess to a minimum and helps us really decide what is important to keep.
Expanding file box
We have two expanding file boxes in our “office” area. One is for personal, one is for business. We keep EVERYTHING needed for taxes or warranties in these boxes.
If you keep stuff spread everywhere, you’ll never find it.
As your paper items come in, immediately file them in the appropriate file. This method alone has saved us piles and piles of paper mountains.
I said immediately. That means right now. Stop making piles “to do” on your kitchen counter. Ouch.
And there ya have it. Ways to rid yourself of your paper clutter NOW. FOREVER.
You can do this. I believe in you.