Do you ever lose stuff and then it interferes with your life?
- A bill that ended up overdue?
- A check you wish you had cashed? (I found a stack of my own in a library book once!)
- A permission slip for a super fun activity that your child just missed?
- Or that one such-and-such that you just spent half an hour looking for because you need it, so you left it out where you could find it…and it got buried…
…in the piles of paper that will. Not. Stop. Coming. Into. Your. House?!
My “I know right where that is…really!” attitude and I are right there with you. Sometimes we can’t even set the silverware basket from the dishwasher on the counter to unload because the paper piles have oozed onto the cooking side of the peninsula. That’s totally unacceptable!
The Paper Clutter Epidemic
I was really focusing on my paper clutter problem in the spring. Paper clutter was also the big winner when I asked KS readers, “What’s the messiest part of your house?”
It turns out that “organizing” isn’t really what we need, friends. Here are the 5 expert tips to tackle paper clutter:
1. DON’T Organize – Drain the Ocean
In Dana White’s Drowning in Clutter, she professes her decluttering expertise based on her experience:
Her first strategy is to NOT organize. (Decluttering is more effective at actually winning the battle over your piles.)
Then she tells you to focus on visible areas. In other words, if your paper clutter is already in a file cabinet, don’t deal with that until all your visible piles are gone.
And if you wouldn’t know where to find it if you put it away, it’s not worth keeping.
I realized that I could make a note in an online calendar or Evernote about a piece of paper and it takes about as much time as it does to move that paper 5 gazillion times from the table to the counter to the cabinet to the table…until I actually deal with it.
That might be a strategy that will work for you too – get rid of the paper and record it where there is no physical clutter. I am becoming a monster about getting rid of stuff, and it really does work!!!!
2. Simplify – Streamline What’s Left
Tsh Oxenreider’s One Bite at a Time has always been a favorite organizing eBook. She addresses paper clutter in a no-nonsense, simplify-it way and teaches you exactly how to stop it from coming in such an onslaught, weed it out, organize what must come in and reclaim your counter space:
* streamline your mail
* create an essential papers file
* organize your other files (including what to keep and what to purge)
* streamline your kids’ art collection
If your paper piles include anything other than kids’ schoolwork, junk mail, important mail, and bills/file-able stuff, I bet they’ll be pretty short stacks once you manage those categories!
As for me, I have a policy for my 4yo that his work goes in one spot on the fridge, and when the next day’s work comes home, I joyfully put it up…and then quietly recycle the previous day’s. It is SO working, and you know if you have a preschooler how they get attached to every little piece of paper and want to keep everything, so you gotta have a system or you drown in “my best work!!”
3. Technology Tributaries
Paperless Home Organization is a new eBook resource that I’m really appreciating.
Author Mystie Winckler (this is the author my friend touted!) lays out a system for creating what she calls a “digital home management binder” using such tools as Evernote, email, Google calendar, and an app called “Remember the Milk” that itself integrates will all those other tools.
My husband and I go off and on trying to use Evernote better – and utterly failing. I keep saying I need someone to sit down and walk through it with me because I’m just not using it to potential. I need to let Mystie be my girl!
(For example, did you know that you can scan papers and Evernote can search for words within the scan? Talk about being able to find something you put away without digging! Halleluia!)
Mystie’s straightforward “let’s do this thing!” style is refreshing and will definitely help me feel like I can walk through the book and simply check off the steps to success...if I take the time to do it. Sigh. I’m so glad this bundle came back, because it reminds me that I HAVE this resource to utilize!
4. Organize Your Entire Life – Your Way
If the idea of technologically organizing your life leaves you shaking in your boots, Project Organize Your Entire Life has all the printable lists you’ll need, for however you collect your thoughts. Choose the style that works for you!
But…it doesn’t actually tackle paper clutter in particular. Bummer.
5. Divide and Conquer
But Elsie Callender’s brand new Your Simple Home Handbook has a whole chapter called “paper.”
And she admits it took her more than one day to work through her paper piles.
Ta da! Speaking my language.