April 18, 2024

5 Ways to Reduce Paper Clutter From a Professional Declutterer

  • As a professional declutterer I help people get rid of the things they don’t want anymore. 
  • Despite us living in a digital age, many people still struggle with paper clutter. 
  • Choose a receptacle to store all the paper coming in, that way, you can sort through it. 

If you’re drowning in a sea of paper, take heart; you’re not alone. Despite living in the digital age, paper is still coming at us at record levels.

As a professional declutterer helping people live with less stuff, here are five tips for getting it under control.

Reduce the amount coming in

The first best way to reduce the amount of stuff in your home is to manage what comes in. Most of our paper finds us through the US Mail. Sadly, you’ll never put an end to junk mail, but there are steps you can take to stem the flow.

Start by unsubscribing from things you don’t want. Every catalog includes a customer service phone number. Give them a call and ask to be removed from their list. If you’re getting a lot of appeals from charities and non-profits, do the same.

This takes a little effort, but there are organizations out there that can help. The Federal Trade Commission lists several resources that can get your name removed from advertisers’ mailing lists. This is the easiest way to keep your mailbox from overflowing.

While you’re at it, think about the things you subscribe to. Are you reading the newspapers, newsletters, and magazines that arrive every month? If not, unsubscribe.

Choose a receptacle

There’s nothing more annoying than tearing the house apart looking for that one document you’d swear was on the table in front of you five minutes ago. Try creating a staging area for all the paper: a box, bag, or basket.

As paper comes into the house, put it in the receptacle immediately. This way, when you’re ready to deal with a specific piece of paper, you’ll know where to find it. But do make a plan for emptying the box weekly, if possible. Take action, then get the paper into the recycling bin as quickly as you can.

Switch to paperless wherever possible

Are you receiving statements, bills, and financial documents in the mail? Switch to getting digital bills and updates. Paying bills online will save you time, not to mention stamps and envelopes.

So much of the mail we get and often keep is stuff we can access online. Bank statements, user manuals, insurance documents, and investment information. There’s no need for us to hold onto paper copies of information that’s so easy to retrieve online. Hold on to receipts and paperwork that’s related to a claim or dispute, but let the institutions that produce the information store it for you.

Can you find this on the internet?

Remember the days when we’d print emails so we’d have a hard copy? That practice has fallen by the wayside, but we’re still holding onto paper copies of things we can find with a quick Google search. This includes magazine articles, recipes, user manuals, and instructions of every kind. Let the internet do what it does best: maintaining and updating information for us.

Curation, curation, curation

This is where most of us struggle to divest ourselves of pounds and pounds of paper.

Are you holding on to work from the college you graduated from 25 years ago? Do you have binders full of notes from every conference you’ve ever attended? Have you looked at any of that in the past five years? You don’t have to rid yourself of every shred of your past but think about the value of what you’re keeping.

This includes ancient medical records, insurance information for cars you no longer own, and receipts for everything you’ve ever purchased. Go through your files a few at a time and decide whether or not you’ll ever need the papers you’re keeping.

We’ve been trained to think that any information printed on a piece of paper is important. Not true. Use your best judgment. As with any decluttering project, start small and do a bit at a time, as your interest and energy allow. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 15 to 20 minutes per day.

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