There is a reason paper piles are a common sight in homes everywhere. Paper is the one constant that keeps coming in day and day out and is a waste of not only our time but also resources. From mail, to work, to school, to purchases, paper clutter is everywhere. That’s why I’m sharing a few tips to beat the piles once and for all.
It’s not possible or practical to cut off all paper, but a few simple changes can decrease paper clutter significantly.
The first change is to opt for paperless billing. This works especially well when you have auto bill pay – just set it and forget it! It’s rare you will need a paper copy of a bill and they are usually available online.
Tip: Be sure to keep a record of login credentials so you’re able to get what you need if and when you need it.
Did you know you can actually opt out of certain marketing mailings? There are a few services available that make it pretty painless:
- Optoutprescreen.com is a free service to opt out of credit and insurance offers received via mail.
- DMAchoice.org is a registration service. For a $4 fee you can remove or reduce promotional mailers for 10 years.
- Valpak allows you to request removal from their list for mailings
You can also reduce or eliminate catalog mailers. The most direct way to stop the receipt of catalogs is to contact the sending company, but it’s definitely not the easiest. Another option is Catalogchoice.org that allows you to search their large database for senders and request to opt out of future mailings.
Once you’ve reduced incoming paper to the necessities, a functional system is needed to keep it tidy. I like to divide paper into 4 categories:
- Incoming – It’s not always convenient or realistic to process paper immediately. By creating a staging area, you know exactly what needs to be processed and where it’s at. When you have time to address the incoming items, they will either go direct to trash/recycle, require further action (like bill payment), need shredded, or filed for long term storage.
- Action – Action items are things like bills that need to be paid, permission slips to be signed, and order forms. I recommend setting a schedule to go through the incoming and action categories so due dates are not missed.
- Shred – Shredding is one of my least favorite activities. It’s time consuming and the shredder gets clogged at some point without fail. To help it seem like less of a burden, I set up a small basket to collect shreddable items. I empty it once it’s full but since the basket it small it’s never too big of a chore.
- Store – Some sort of filing system is necessary. The method, however, will depend on your needs, wants, and habits. It can be as detailed or broad as you like, just as long as it’s sustainable!
You can keep all 4 categories together in one place or wherever it makes sense. For example, the incoming items might be in the kitchen where it’s the first stop in the door. When you’re ready to sort you might move to a home office to pay bills, shred and file. Wherever you keep things, these are a few of my favorite storage solutions:
I hope you found these paper clutter tips helpful! For more record-keeping ideas be sure to check out the How-To Guide for Personal Files and Records.