Drowning In Paper Clutter

Monday, January 22, 2018

My mission to declutter/organize/clean my house thankfully continues (to the point where Tom actually asked me tonight, "What's with all the cleaning lately?"). However, there is one particular issue I've struggled with quite a bit.

There is so much freaking paper clutter in our house.

I spent over two hours Sunday night just going through two small boxes of papers in our bedroom, sorting them, and shredding what needed to be shredded. I had over a trash bag full of unnecessary paper. There were old bills, receipts, catalogs, the boys' school papers, coupons that expired in 2015...it was a hot mess, and I'm pretty sure I've barely made a dent.

I'm trying to figure out what the best solution will be to avoid a repeat of this situation in the future.

I'm REALLY bad about not opening the mail immediately. Maybe I need to just sit down as soon as I walk in the door and deal with it, though with how unpredictable my children are, that may be easier to do some days rather than others.

Maybe I should just make a dedicated place to put all the mail until I can get to it, and then force myself to take care of it by a certain point in the week.

A NeatDesk might help, but I have a feeling Tom would be less than thrilled about all the extra memory loss on his computer, plus I'd be a little worried to just assume everything would be fine and safe on the computer/cloud.

What do you guys do to control your paper clutter? I feel like other people are a lot better at handling this than I am.

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  1. Same!
    I started with a recycle can right inside the door. I grab the mail and drop anything I don't need in the bin. Second, I signed up to get all my bills electronically that way it reduces the urgency of what mail I do receive.
    What's your typical routine when you get home - put Archie outside? The boys could do that while you open the mail and sort with what needs to be dealt with and what can be recycled or shredded. Also, just have a separate bin for shredded stuff (maybe white or clear plastic bags for recycle bin and black plastic bags for shred bin) then watch for the annual shred days with the banks. Honestly, not much these days has enough information on them to justify shredding... If there is sensitive information on a page, I typically tear off the identifying information and throw that scrap in the shred bin then throw the rest in recycle.
    We should work together on this -- I'll come over and have a cleaning party at your house, then you come over and have a cleaning party with me. :0)

    1. I've got quite a few bills that only come electronically, but some only come through the mail.

      I don't necessarily have a specific routine for when I get home, but the mail also comes at really inconsistent times; sometimes it's there by the time I get home (generally 12:30-1), and sometimes it's not there until around 5:00. Also, I can barely trust Tom to let Archie out without Luna escaping, let alone the boys, lol.

      As for the shredding, I can maybe be a bit paranoid with it. My grandma wouldn't let anything with both her name and address leave the house in one piece, and I think that kind of stuck with me. I also shred anything I don't need that has any account numbers on it.

      I would say the cleaning party would be a good idea, but I'm not sure you want to see my house, lol.

  2. Jessica Goffinet GoekenJanuary 23, 2018 at 10:52 AM

    Do you have a filing cabinet? We have a small 2-drawer one, and that's where all of our old bills go, along with receipts for major purchases, pages from doctor visits, house stuff, taxes, you name it, it has a file folder. My parents also kept totes with all of our school stuff, and at the end of the school year we'd sit down together and decide what needed to be kept and what needed to be thrown away. I also deal with the mail immediately, but instead of a shred bin I have a burn pile, and every now and then I take it outside and set it on fire.

    1. I don't at the moment. I do want to get a filing cabinet (or at least a file box) for important papers, and one each for the boys' stuff. I have good intentions, but no follow through.

  3. You've probably heard of the book "The Magic if Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo - I just checked it out from the library this week and have gotten really into the process, and I highly recommend it as a process for dealing with clutter. There's a whole section dedicated to papers and how to deal with them. The main trick is to immediately sort the papers into "needs action", "need to keep long term", and discard, as soon as you get it or very soon after. File the need to keep long term in a basic file folder, as you won't usually have many of those, and put the needs action in a pile where you can see it so you are more likely to get to it quickly. I adopted a similar system to what she recommends years ago and it works great for me, as long as I sort everything soon after I get it, since most papers you can just quickly get rid of. Your name and address can be very easily found, so unless there's other confidential info in there, I wouldn't worry about shredding it.
    ~ Bethany

    1. I read it a couple of years ago, and some of what she said appealed to me, but I feel like my clutter is just way too overwhelming to tackle it in the order she suggests (plus, since it was around the time we got the boys, I was way too busy dealing with suddenly being a mom to give it much more of a thought). I might give it another read though.



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