10 Tips For Organizing Paper Clutter

Do you ever feel that organizing papers could be a full-time job? The steady stream of flyers, junk mail, school papers and bills. Increase your efficiency by using these tips to organize paper clutter.

Organize Paper Clutter

10 Tips for Organizing Paper Clutter

Stop it at the doorway

A few years ago, I signed up for free newspapers for a month. I was getting stressed when the papers came faster than we could read them, so I cancelled the offer. ‘Free’ is not worth it if it adds to the clutter.

Deal with paper clutter before it enters your home. Recycle or shred unwanted items and only bring in the essentials. An inbox/outbox by the doorway is a temporary resting spot until you can deal with action items.


Change What Doesn’t Work

Walk around the house with a pencil and paper and write down your hot spots of paper clutter.

Be specific. For me it includes:
Basket beside my laptop
Side of the fridge
On the kitchen counter

Once the problem areas have been noted, tackle them one at a time using the following suggestions.

Find What Works

What systems do you currently have for dealing with paper clutter that are working? Since my budget binder functions well, receipts and bills go straight into their home. Now to find systems that will works as well for other papers…..

Experts suggest creating an Action Basket (things that require attention) and a Reading Basket (magazines, articles for future reading). Twice a week deal with all items in the Action Basket until it is empty. And empty out the Reading Basket every month.

Maybe a mobile system would work well for your home. It allows you to organize paper clutter in various locations.
paperwork on wheels

Know Yourself

Are you a Piler or a Filer? Take this online quiz to find the answer.

If you are a piler, papers serve as reminders to do things. Give yourself a bulletin board system to keep those essentials in sight.

chickenwire board

Use colourful files and baskets to appeal to your visual side. Files labelled “Today”, “This Week” or “This Month”  keeps papers out of sight, but not out of mind. Also use the calendar to tell you when to refer to a certain piece of paper.

If you are naturally a filer, your papers may already be organized!

Go Green

Minimize paper clutter by:

  • Sign up for e-billing
  • Looking recipes up online instead of clipping magazines
  • Use online bank statements

Take a Picture

Since children generate paper masterpieces at lightning speed, consider keeping just one special piece each month, and put it in a bin until it can be filed. Or take pictures of their artwork and turn them into a book at the end of the year.
preserve kids' artwork

One Touch Rule

Follow a one touch rule for paper. File it, pitch it or deal with it right away. Do quick tasks such as writing a thank you card, putting a date on the calendar or making the call. And once you have acted on the paper, throw it out. This eliminates procrastination and curbs the paper trail.

Be Ruthless

When taking a firm approach toward dealing with paper clutter, be ruthless. Sort papers by asking yourself, “Do I REALLY need this?”  If I create a file folder for this item will I ever look at it again?

Also, review how long you need to keep financial papers, to get rid of a lot of paper clutter.

Get Help

If organizing paper clutter is a dreaded task for you, invite a friend over to help. Someone who is naturally organized can help set up systems customized to your family.

And take advantage of Mrs. January’s free printables for creating a Home Management Binder, Coupon Binders and more.

Get Buy-In

Get the family involved in staying on top of paper clutter. Systems like this Ikea Helmer cabinet can be implemented by children. My boys each have one drawer for school papers and one drawer for crafts and they are in charge of their own filing.


For permission slips, my boys fill out as much as they can, record the event on the calendar, get my signature and gather the exact change. No more morning scrambles!

Organizing paper clutter in your home will save you countless hours of searching, stress and frustration. Time well spent to keep your home running well.

What do you find works best to organize your papers?

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