One thing I have dealt with my entire life, no matter where I’ve lived, is paper clutter. Growing up I had a tendency to collect paper. The desk in our kitchen always had paper. Then when I moved out on my own, there always seemed to be one spot that would collect paper.
I have to say up front that I still struggle with paper accumulating on our kitchen cabinet. However, I have set up some systems that have made it a little easier to control the paper flow. I want to share those systems with you so maybe they will spark an idea that will help you to control your paper clutter.
- Get rid of any paper you don’t need as soon as it comes into the house. The first thing I do when I get the mail is to go through it and throw away any junk mail that I can. My husband does the same when he goes through the mail I leave for him to process. Junk mail is just clutter if you leave it laying around.
- Prevent unwanted papers from coming to your home. Remove yourself from catalog mailing lists or any other lists that result in junk mail.
- Discard unnecessary paper. When you receive invitations or meeting requests, make note of the date and any important info in your calendar. Then toss the invitation. There is no need to hold onto it any longer.
- Provide a place for your kids to deposit their school papers. Set up an area for your kids to leave the school papers you need to look at. However, make sure you look at them as soon as possible so you can discard what you don’t need, make note of any dates you need on your calendar, and sign papers that need to go back to school.
- Create a memorabilia box to save art projects or tests with good grades. I know a lady who uses two boxes in her laundry room. She puts all the artwork from her kids in one and puts any other papers the kids may want to keep in the other. Then at the end of the year, she goes through the boxes and gets rid of the unimportant papers. You can also take pictures of their artwork and create a scrapbook. Then you won’t have a ton of art projects to store.
- Decide where you are going to keep your papers. I have four main areas where I put papers:
- Mail Box-I got these at Pottery Barn several years ago. I have one for each member of my family. My box (the one with the arrow) holds papers I need to process when I do my weekly review. I try not to put anything in there that I will need to reference within a week’s time. This box is downstairs in my laundry room making it easy for me to use because I am in there several times a day.
- In Box-I use the basket on the top of these cubbies as my in box upstairs. When I am working through paper work at my desk, I throw papers, magazines, books, etc. in here to process during my weekly review. When I work on my weekly review, I bring the items from my mail box in the laundry room up to my in box. Then I process everything from there.
- Cubbies-The cubbies pictured above have been a life saver for me. They are probably the best resource I have for eliminating paper clutter. I use these cubbies to hold current projects, long-term projects, and various memorabilia. One cubby holds all of the loose photographs I find laying around the house. For the longest time, I just had this big pile of paper filled with all the information I needed to finish different projects. With the cubbies I can now sort all the paper and know where everything is.
- Family Notebook-The family notebook is a place where I keep papers I need to reference on an occasional basis. I keep the notebook in a basket in my laundry room so I can get to it easily. I have a more detailed post about my family notebook here.
My husband keeps files for all our important papers that we need to keep long term. I also have a few files related to my blog. Overall, though, using these systems above have helped reduce our paper clutter tremendously.
How do you keep paper from cluttering up your home? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.