Get Rid of Your Paper Clutter Once and For All – Part 3

get your paper clutter organised

This is Part 3 of the 3-Part series: Get Rid of Paper Clutter Once and For All. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Last week we looked at how to organise and declutter the papers you already have in your home.

How did you do? Did you find it easier than expected? Harder? Are you still battling through?

Don’t give up, sister! You’re nearly there!

Today, I have some tips for keeping on top of the incoming paper and for keeping your filing system organised. If you follow some (or all) of these tips, you will never find yourself elbow deep in paper clutter again.


Dealing With Incoming Paper:

  • Sort through it as soon as possible. If you have a designated place for your mail (perhaps the landing strip or your admin area) then make sure you place it there.
  • Even better (but not entirely realistic) is to aim to “touch it once”. That is, collect it from the mailbox, open it, sort it and action it – all in one go. Then you won’t need to worry about sorting, or piles, or holding boxes. It just gets done.


Tips for When You Are Sorting:

  • Open everything and sort into categories:
    • papers to be actioned
    • papers to be filed
    • papers to be recycled
  •  Move them to the designated places straight away:
    • paper to be actioned will go to your admin area
    • paper to be filed can be filed immediately or put in a holding box (like I mentioned in part 2, ours is a box)
    • paper to be recycled gets put in the recycling bin


Tips for When You Are Actioning:

  • Pay bills as soon as possible.
  • Choose a day each week as your ‘money day’. Use that time to pay or schedule bills, organise the coming weeks’ budget, transfer money between accounts, etc. (This should take you 10 minutes maximum each week).


Tips for When You Are Filing:

  • Stick to the one in, one out rule. Filing a phone bill? Then take out the oldest and recycle it. This means you keep 12 months worth at all times and don’t end up with years of paperwork filed away unnecessarily.


Some of these tips will suit your needs, others may not. The main thing to remember is that if everything has a place, it is so, so much easier to keep organised.

And, hey! You’ve just eliminated your paper clutter once and for all. Nice work!!


8 Responses to Get Rid of Your Paper Clutter Once and For All – Part 3

  1. Hi Brooke!
    Organization is NOT my problem.
    I have 2 file cabinets (a 2 drawer lateral and a 2 drawer up right)I have all the hanging and manilla folders…yes I am organized!!! My problem is I do NOT keep a handle on A L L of it!
    I am excellent at the bank, visa, phone, electric, gas monthly files and even the recycle area.
    I have an filing area designated upper lateral drawer and lower lateral drawer.
    It just gets out of hand!!!
    At this very moment I have 6 full grocery sacks of P A P E R S!
    Then, I have an area designated “stuff to go into computer” (tidbits of info I want to keep).!?
    I like the idea of doing it on say my couch in the computer room, it is just doing it and keeping a handle on it, since it is going to take a lot of time to even S O R T!
    I am the “WORST” at little pieces of paper…I’ll see something on tv and write down a website, etc. (I even have a cute little basket to get those little papers from the living room into my computer room)to S I T…and yes I have gone though and put little bits on a page and discarded the “bits”…it seems like it is “NEVER ENDING”. I feel like I am spinning my wheels.
    I thought if this keeps up I’ll be called a hoarder ( but I googled it and “Thank God” I have very little of those symptoms). I am serious…it is awful…there are not enough hours in the day to do all this and Y E S I have been at the stage where I am clutterless, but I just can not seem to S T A Y that way I swear they multiply! (like rabbits).
    One of my favorites is to go through a stack while I am on “hold” on the phone, but I PROMISE it is back in a couple of days OR I have to move a “stack” out of the way and there in, is why I have 6 FULL grocery bags of the stuff.
    Any suggestions?
    I forgot to tell you…when I need paper for the printer…I go through and recycle old file papers and I feel SOooo good getting my files cleaned out and I am recycling (another good feeling)!
    Hope to hear from you soon.
    Beverly Sutton
    Texas, USA

    • Hi there Beverly,

      Can I just say how much I appreciate your honesty? It’s hard to constantly come up against the same obstacle and still remain optimistic about finding a solution.

      Just a few thoughts right off the top of my head…

      – I’d be really interested to know more about the little pieces of paper you keep. Do you keep them out of fear that you will forget things or because the information is really, truly important? My solution would be two-fold. First spend 10-15 minutes a day sorting through them, until you have kept only those things you really, really need to know. (Not things that you may want to know one day. Because that’s the beauty of living in this online world – the thing you saw on TV is only a Google search away.) The second part would be to come up with a way to note down information you really do need to remember. I have a red notebook that lives on my desk and I use it to jot down anything I really need to remember.

      – There are two ways to deal with the backlog. Either put on some good, upbeat music and work through it all in one go (tiring and hard to find motivation – but SO satisfying!) or chip away at it for 10-15 minutes per day. (Will obviously take longer, but is more realistic for many of us).

      – Either way you approach it, try to work at a fast pace and deal with large chunks first. All catalogues/junk mail goes immediately. Pile up all bills. Pile up all papers that need action, etc. Then it’s easier to deal with what’s left as there is far less clutter getting in your way.

      – Remember, if it was really important information (particularly junk mail, catalogues, websites etc) then you would have actioned it at the time. But if weeks or months have passed without any action, then you can safely let it go.

      Sorry for the disjointed answer, Beverly! I just put it down on the page as it came to me. Hopefully there is something in there that helps!

      Brooke :)

  2. Beverly, I have stacks of papers, and I live in Texas, too. Do you think it’s a Texas “thang”? :)

    Brooke, I’m behind on my business papers, but my biggest mess is sentimental paper. I’ve got so many things from and about loved ones, especially from my son and grandsons. I can’t seem to let go of the sentimental stuff. Ideally, I would just pick a few things and dump the rest, but my decider is broken.

    • Mary C. I have had this same problem; sentimental people want to hold on the every little thing that has a memory or story behind it. I read in a magazine to take a picture of these things, whether it be a card and school paper or a certain piece of clothing like a baby’s first outfit and so on. Take a picture of the item and get it printed out and put into a photo album. Then, if you really don’t want to throw it away; get a shoe box or some sort of container with a top on it and pit the item in the box and store it in a safe place where it won’t get damaged., Like on a shelf in a basement or where ever there is a safe place in your home and put a label on the box with what is in box and even the memory that goes with it or a certain date, year of the item and then when you have a day that you want to browse thru your memory box, it will be there, and if you want to just take a picture of the item and put in photo album and then let go of the original item; either way, this is just an ideal for you. Good Luck!!!

  3. If you find something you really want to keep, can you put it on a pinterest board? You could have “inspiring quotes” or “household tips” or “recipes to try.” I also put a lot of things on my sticky notes on my iphone. That way there are no scraps of paper to deal with but you can refer back to the info if you really need it again.

  4. I Bullet Journal for my to do, lists, appointments etc. Everything except shopping list (i have a master shopping list i print and then just highlight what I need). You can make it as simple or complex as you like. Mine is very simple and I love it. I never have to remember anything lol.

  5. The most difficult time I have is what to do with those pages torn from magazines, catalogues, etc of things i want to purchase, places i want to go etc.? I can’t do it all at once, and I am a very out of sight out of mind kind of person, and I get deeply disappointed if I don’t order the thing or book the trip or whatever, and by the time I do it’s no longer available! I hope you can follow that train of a confused mind’s thoughts. Thank you for your help! Right now EVERYTHING is on the kitchen table and has been for months!

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