As I sit here looking at my dining room table I notice paper. There is mail that needs to be sorted and shredded, there is a thank you card we received in the mail, magazines and my daily planner. The paper just seems to pile up regardless of how hard I try to keep it tamed. I have worked hard over the years to find ways to conquer paper clutter and today I am going to share my best tips with you.
Eliminating paper clutter causes your home to be cleaner and reduces stress.
How To Conquer Paper Clutter In 2019
Purge Your Paper
To get started with conquering paper clutter you really need to start with a whole house paper clutter purge. You will want to sort through all of your documents and paper.
Create three piles for your paper.
The first pile is paper to save. This is for important documents that you will need to save such as a birth certificate.
The second pile is for the paper to shred. This is for documents that are no longer important but may contain personal information such as old bills.
The third pile is for the paper to throw away or recycle. This is for documents that are no longer relevant. They do not contain personal information such as newspapers and magazines.
You may want to attack this room by room. That is your decision but until we have cleared out the paper and sorted it we can not move forward.
Decide on Storage Solutions
Now that your paper is sorted you will want to find a storage solution for all of the documents that you have saved. Some of these papers will need to be kept in a safe while others can be filed in binders or boxes. Be sure to label your binders and boxes if you are going to keep documents.
You may also decide to digitize the paper you are keeping. I will discuss this more in the next section.
How to Keep Your Home Free of Paper Clutter
Now, that you have conquered your existing paper clutter it is time to keep your home paper clutter-free. This will take a bit of work on your part but it will be well worth it in the months to come.
Create a Command Center
The first thing you want to do to keep our home paper clutter-free is to create a command center for the new paper to be placed when it comes into the home.
This command center is where your papers will live until you are ready to tackle them.
Be sure to set aside time each week to actually go through the paper. Again you’ll want to save, recycle, or throw away your paper based on their level of importance.
Switch to Electronic Bills
The easiest way we have found to conquer paper clutter is to reduce the amount of paper coming into our home.
The first thing we did was to switch to electronic bills.
Each month I receive an email from our mortgage company, cable provider, cell phone company, credit card statements etc. If the email does not tell me the amount due, I can easily log into my online account to view a PDF version.
You can choose to print these PDF bills if you must. However, I have never had a reason to keep the paper version. You can easily log back into your online account to view the bill in the future. Most companies will keep your statements available for one year. If you need something older than one year you can e-mail them and ask for a copy.
Another solution for keeping these PDF bills is creating a folder on your computer. However, you want to ensure you have a good system in place for this or your digital files will become cluttered too.
Use Electronic Bill Pay
Along the same lines as electronic bills is electronic bill pay.
Electronic bill pay can be set up through your bank or you may allow the company to automatically withdraw funds from your account.
This will reduce the paper from mailing in a check and will help you streamline your finances.
Switch to Digital Planning
Do you keep a physical planner to keep track of your appointments and never-ending to-do list? If so, you may consider digital planning instead.
Google Calendar is an easy solution for tracking appointments and time blocking. You can even share the calendar with your loved ones! This has saved my husband and I from asking each other what is on the schedule for the day. We can both look at our phones or the computer to easily view what is coming up.
Google Keep is my solution for the never-ending to-do list. Google Keep is a note-taking app that allows you to write a title and then the note. You can also turn your note into a checklist which is perfect for the to-do list. Once you check off the item on your list that line is brought to the bottom and crossed off. With Google Keep you can easily create a note and list for each day of the week and sit down to plan like you would with a paper planner.
Project Management Solutions
Do you have a big project coming up in 2019?
One of the items on our list is to finish the flooring in our home. When we purchased this home in 2017 the house was wall to wall carpet. We have already replaced the carpet in the living room and dining room with luxury vinyl plank but we also want to put the luxury vinyl plank in the bedrooms. This project will take some planning on our part because we will need to remove furniture from all of the bedrooms and it is also a costly project.
I love to collect inspiration from magazines, books, and online publications but it just creates more paper clutter in my home.
The best project management solution I have found in Trello.
Trello is an online tool that uses boards and cards to organize information. You can easily create a board for your next home project. Then break the project down into bite-size chunks. Once you have completed a task you can archive it to remove it from your project.
Did you know you can also save pictures in Trello? It is easy to import an image as well as save a link!
If you just need a place to store inspiration for a project creating a board on Pinterest is one of my favorite ways. You can pin products you love as well as blog posts with ideas.
Scan Important Paper Documents
We all have important paper documents we need to save. Think tax returns, marriage licenses, divorce decree, birth certificates, and social security cards etc.
There are some things you want to keep paper versions of (like your birth certificate and social security card) but it’s always nice to have a digital file as well.
If you have a printer at home, it most likely has a scanner built in. This is the easiest way I have found to scan documents to save as a digital file.
If you do not have a scanner built into your printer then you may want to invest in a document scanner. The document scanner that I have seen recommended time and time again is the Fujitsu ScanSnap. While I do not personally own this scanner I have heard raving reviews about it and has great reviews. This document scanner is expensive but it will get the job done when you are trying to digitize your home.
Again, you’ll want to find a digital organization system that works for you to keep track of your now digital copies. My favorite online storage solution is Dropbox. I have used it for years and love that it syncs to my phone as well as any other device I may have. I have folders created for different digital files I may want to keep (like photographs) that are organized by year and then the month. This helps me locate documents quickly and easily.
Children’s Paper Clutter
While I don’t have kids, I do know that they come with a lot of paper clutter especially when they reach school aged. There will be art projects, coloring pages, tests, report cards etc. Just thinking about all of the paper kids come home with is overwhelming! You’ll want to decide what paper is important to keep.
Create a keepsake box for your kids if you want them to have physical copies of some of these things.
I would not recommend keeping it all though!
Another thing you may consider is taking a picture of your child with the artwork or coloring page etc. You can them turn this is into a yearly photobook to look back on. The paper clutter will be out of your home but you’ll still have the memory to look back on. I like photobooks because they are normally thin and therefore do not take up much room in your home!
Conquer paper clutter in 2019 for a more organized home!
Conquering paper clutter is not difficult. While it will take time to sort through all of the paper you already have in your home if you set up a system to tackle paper on a regular basis it won’t take you much time at all. Go digital for everything possible and create a command center in your home for the paper that does make its way into your home. You’ll be able to keep your home paper clutter free in just a few minutes per week.