Clearing Paper Clutter: 5 Easy Steps

Man, I hate paperwork.

paperwork (2)

I really thought we’d all be on the same page by now–the “hey, let’s do everything online so that Erin doesn’t have to see a desk that looks like the paper shredder threw up on it!”

But no.

If you’re in the same boat–missing payment deadlines, never finding that permission slip in time or realizing that awesome coupon for cereal expired last week–this is for you.  And me.  Because I really hate paperwork.

Clearing Paper Clutter: 5 Easy Steps

clearing paper

1. Create Your Collection System: mine is by my computer.  The twins know that if they actually need something signed and given back, that’s where it needs to go.


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2. Set Up Your Selection System: there’s three easy ways to sort paperwork.

a. Action

b. Resource

c. Filed

Action is easy: anything like bills or invitations that need to be addressed right away.  They go in my top inbox and have to be cleared every two days.  If you don’t designate a deadline, the papers will languish indefinitely.  Admit it.  Resource are papers that assist you, menus for takeout, school and student handbooks, etc.  Filed papers are stubs from paid bills, receipts…anything ready to be filed into the cabinet.



3. Digging Out Of Paper Backlog: now that you’ve picked up a nice little system for current papers, let’s the face the horror of the Backlog.  I’ve found my backlog  jammed into closets, crammed in grocery bags under my bed…   The easiest way to to set your priorities.  First, keep up on your day to day influx.  Second, tackle the visible backlog–for me, that’s the teetering pile on top of the microwave.  Third, the stored or hidden backlogs.  Do as much as you can stand, or set a kitchen timer and blaze through as much as you can until the timer goes off.



4. Develop The Paper Sorting Habit: all the lovely systems in the world mean nothing if I don’t use them.  (Editor’s note: a painful lesson I have learned.  More than once.)  When you come in the house, drop mail, paperwork, scraps of paper, etc. into your collection system immediately.  Set a time each day when you sort and file.


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5. Gloat.  I swear this is the step everyone misses.  Stand there for a moment.  Look at your pristine order.  Feel the cleverness of you flow through your soul.  Nice, eh?  Give yourself some credit.  You earned it.

clearing paper clutter in 5 easy steps


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