8 Ways to Sort and Organise Paper Clutter
Do you sometimes stop and look round your house thinking “Where does all this paper come from?!” I’ve had times where I feel I’m in danger of a paper avalanche burying the whole kitchen in the past!
Don’t panic-there is a way forward. Let’s have a look at some quick ways to minimise paperwork and ensure it doesn’t come back ( the most important bit!)
1. Get rid of junk mail straightaway
We all get those flyers that come through the door, advertising everything from pizza delivery to gardening to funeral plans (not sure anyone’s ever decided on a funeral plan based on a flyer, but hey). Occasionally one comes through that might be useful but the rest get carried through in a pile to be discarded on the kitchen worktop, the breakfast table etc to live there for what feels like evermore.
Just don’t do it. As soon as they come through, pick them up and any you don’t need, put straight into whatever place you use for recycling. Don’t have one? Then allocate a place- this basket is great and you can keep it by the back or front door ready to empty out when it’s bin day.
2.Have a specific place for paper that needs action
Sometimes there’s paper that you can’t chuck away- such as school letters, car insurance reminders and so on. If there’s paper you know you need to action then it needs a specific place to “live”, like an in-tray. Obviously you don’t need an actual in-tray, as this tray shows; it’s unobtrusive and you know where all your actionable paper is when you need it.
3.Use a calendar
Instead of having bits of paper lying around with doctor’s appointments, after school club times and so on lying around, why not use a calendar? You could use a actual calendar that hangs on the wall, or a family calendar so that everyone knows where everyone else is each day ( this makes it easier for meal planning too). If you find it easier , add times to you phone or laptop calendar and remember to set alerts for appointments as well to help remind you.
4.Don’t buy magazines
Well you can if you want to! What I mean is rather than buy hard copies that pile up, try subscribing to your favourites online. That way you’ve still got the back copies but they’re not cluttering up the side table, kitchen worksurface etc. Amazon Prime also gives options to read online with a Kindle account. In the UK you can also get some magazines and papers for free online if you have a library account.
5. Don’t keep every kid’s painting
That time when your 3 year old comes back from nursery or daycare and proudly hands you their “masterpiece” of some scrawled crayon? You love it and stick it on the fridge. The next one joins it. And the next. By the time they’re 5 and their siblings have joined in with their works of art, you’re starting to wonder where the fridge actually is!
So…only keep the important stuff. Maybe the first one that they brought home, or the first time hey wrote their name on something ( or dare I say it, the ones that are actually, you know, good). The rest you can still keep, but just do it online- either take photos of it, and save to a hard drive, or upload to the Cloud or Dropbox. Pinterest has some great ideas too.
Then it frees up some room for all the toys…..
6.Go paperless where you can
Do you need hard copies of everything? Many banks and utilities now offer paperless comms, so that you don’t get a statement of your bank account or credit cards every month. Utilities companies do this too, and it’s great for keeping a closer eye on your finances ( plus less clutter!) Generally there’s a tick-box when you log into your account to say you want to go paper-free.
7. Have a filing system for paper you really need to keep
Of course you can’t get rid of all your paper, as you’ll need to keep hold of things like P60’s for tax purposes, or pensions paperwork, guarantee certificates and the like. The ideal for this would be a filing cabinet, but not everyone has the room for one of those, so a row of lever arch or box files on a shelf would also work well, or for less paperwork an expanding/accordion file would be useful.
I’ve heard of some people suggesting that you could scan and save the vital paperwork you have, like the stuff I’ve described above, but to be honest you’d have so little of it that it’s probably just easier to file it away. Then it’s instantly available when you need it.
8.Keep coupons and receipts organised
It’s always best to keep hold of receipts for big purchases in case something goes wrong. Some companies now offer e-receipts where they’ll email it to you, but if the retailer you’re using doesn’t or you’re not happy giving your email to them, then keep them in a box or in a row of envelopes.
You can do the same with coupons too. They’re not such a big thing in the UK as in the US, but I get a few from companies using their reward scheme, or where I’ve signed up to mailing lists and they occasionally send coupons through. For this I use a plastic wallet to store these in and leave by the front door so I can grab them on the way out, or if you do all your shopping by car, just leave it in the car so you know you’ve got it.
I hope this helps! Comment below if you’ve got any extra ideas.