7 Tips to Conquer Paper Clutter (2024)

It seems like paper clutter is never ending! I used to be drowning in paper, and horizontal surfaces especially seem to attract the paper piles. After much trial and error, I've finally created a system that works for me to keep the paper chaos at bay! I even wrote an entire e-course with full details on how to tame the paper monster! If you want to know what I do to stay in control, keep reading, or watch the video here!

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1. Create a paper inbox.

If you do absolutely nothing else, do this! It's so simple. It really is just getting a designated basket or bin or file folder or drawer– whatever works– and putting all your paper in it so all the paper is in one place. It's best to have just one inbox, or maybe two if it makes sense for your household.

In my home, we have our inbox by the door, but all my paper is actually processed in my office downstairs. It's too far to go downstairs to make that the only inbox. I'd never make the trip, lol! You have to make the system something you'll actually do, so putting the inbox in a convenient location is key!

The inbox is where I put all the paper that needs to be processed at some point. It's all together in my inbox, so things are less likely to get lost. It prevents the piles of paper everywhere. It's also easy to find a paper when I need it because I know it's sitting in my inbox!

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2. Recycle junk mail right away.

Sometimes we get things that are total junk. It's easy to know that some advertisem*nts for political campaigns, new windows, credit card offers, etc. are just not something you will ever want or need. It takes literally seconds to sort the trash from the mail you might need to open. So I do this on my way from the mailbox into the house, and I toss anything I don't need as soon as I'm inside.

This helps you reduce the size of the paper stack from the start so you never have to deal with it again! Remember that this step is only for the obvious trash. This needs to be a super fast and easy process so you'll consistently do it every day. If there's something you're not sure about, just put it in the inbox to look at later.

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3. Cut down on what comes in.

The best way to reduce paper clutter is to not even get it in the first place! There isn't too much you can do here. There are “no mail” lists you can sign up for, but I'm not really sure how effective that is.

One thing you absolutely do have control over, though, is selecting paperless billing for credit cards, utility bills, or anything else where you can choose to go paperless! Most companies offer and encourage this option because it's cheaper for them than mailing statements to you every month. As a bonus, it's also better for the planet!

If things are digital, it's also easier for me to file things away, so the paperless option is really a win-win!

4. Don't save every paper or receipt.

I used to save literally EVERY receipt in an accordion file organized by month. Why? I'm not really sure. I finally asked myself why I will ever need a receipt for a gallon of milk? What am I ever going to do with this receipt? The answer is nothing, My spending/budget tracker imports spending from my bank account, so I don't even need receipts for budgeting anymore.

So, now I only save receipts for big purchases or for things I might actually return like clothing. Many stores now have digital lookup options for returns. Target has their app, or they can swipe the card you paid with to look up your receipt that way. I love things like this, and I don't save receipts from those stores.

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5. Decide once what you'll do with each category of paper.

From the beginning, think about what types of papers come into your home. What will you do with kids' schoolwork or artwork? What will you do with bills that need to be paid? What about advertisem*nts?

Make decisions on these things so that once they do come into the house, you can process them automatically because you know exactly what to do with them. Decide once, and then execute.

6. Decide to go paper-less.

Okay, I've probably lost some of you here. But what I mean by this is not entirely without paper. I want you to go with LESS paper. Reduce it a much as you possibly can.

And…consider going digital. I know that if you're not tech savvy, this can be overwhelming and a bit scary. But it's a total game changer!! There are so many advantages to going digital:

  • It takes up so much less space.
  • You can save more without the stress. If in doubt, scan and save. It isn't filling up a filing cabinet. It's just sitting in the cloud, and it's there if you need it.
  • You can tag it with more than one label. What if I have a medical bill for my daughter? I can label it “Savannah,” “Medical,” and “2024” in case I need it for taxes. In a physical filing cabinet, I can only put it in one place.
  • It's easier to find because it's key word searchable. I can actually be way less organized and still find what I need, LOL!
  • I have it “with me” and accessible from my phone all the time.
  • It's more secure and less likely to be lost. It's in the cloud, so even if there is theft, a flood, a fire, or any horrible thing at my home, I can still access it from somewhere else.

If you are still overwhelmed and just NEED HELP to go digital and set up a paperless system, check out my course here! I will help you every step of the way with how to set up your own system so you can get rid of those paper piles forever!

7. Take pictures of kids' artwork instead of saving it all.

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There are several ways to do this. You can create an album on your phone with your kids artwork. You could also make a digital photo book and print it off so you can physically look through it.

With either option, you're much more likely to actually look back on the artwork than if the physical work is stuffed and overflowing in a big bin somewhere!

Hopefully you can take one (or a few!) of these ideas to help you tame your own paper piles. I finally went digital in 2020, and that was when I finally felt like I had my paper monster under control! It was SUCH a relief. I want you to have that feeling, too!

7 Tips to Conquer Paper Clutter (2024)


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