How to Manage Paper Clutter

organize paper graphic

Paper clutter seems to always be a hot topic; for clients and readers. So why haven’t we posted on it before? Because we’re not very smart?

So due to a gentle nudging from a reader friend named Monica (thanks girl!), we decided it was far overdue.

First of all, paper, like laundry and groceries, never stop coming at us.  If we don’t have any systems in place to manage it, it will begin to look a lot like piles of paper and scrap lying wherever they want. Not to worry! If paper is a problem for you, we think we can help.

We’ll take it in a step-by-step process, because that feels like the easiest way to talk about it.

*Handle Mail (Paper) As it Comes In! EVERY DAY!*

  1. Deal With Your Mail Every Day

-Open it over the garbage can/recycling bin to get rid of junk mail, envelopes and flyers or coupons you don’t need

-Keep the bills, obviously:), and toss the inserts and envelopes – if you pay bills online. Then place the bills in your designated bill-pay area (the place where you handle and deal with your bills). This might be your desk, a counter, but hopefully not your bedroom (bedrooms should be void of all work items, if you can stand it, because when you separate your work and work reminders from your bedroom, it will be far easier to relax and unwind at the end of the day.).

  1. Deal With the Bills

A. Leave all bills to deal with in a laterally tiered format on your desk/bill paying area(wherever you sit down to manage your bills via online or personal check) Stack them in date order, the closest date at the front of the pile (see below).

tier stack your bills

I do this in my office because I have basically no one in my office area ever except random visits by my husband or children. And since it’s the only stack of paper on my desk, with only a handful of bills at most at a time, and it serves as a visual reminder, I’m cool with it.

*NOTEWORTHY*I leave these bills until the end of the week. Every Sunday I go to my tiered stack and look to see what needs to be paid this week, and what will wait until next week. Then, when I pay them, I write directly on the bill the day I paid it, and file it in its folder.

B.OR, create a folder, with 7 pockets, for each day of the week. Label the pockets with the corresponding days.  In each pocket, place the bills/permission slips/ coupons that need to be used or handled for that day.

Example: Put a permission slip in on Sunday as a reminder to send it with your child the next day. Put a bill you need to pay for Friday in a slot a few days before, so you can pay it on time.

*NOTEWORTHY*If you’re keen on the binder idea, Check either the binder, at the end of every night !

C. OR, use a desk organizer: Some people prefer to work with a binder, and some would rather leave the items right next to the computer to be dealt with. It’s a preference. You can try either, but you’ll likely gravitate to one of them stronger than the other.

desk top organizers paper

(items listed from the top of the left column down, to the top of the right column down…)

ContainerStore – Clear with blue hanging files

Container Store – Clear four-drawer organizer

Gaylord – Bamboo tray (3-tray or single tray)

EtsyMetal paper tray

Pottery Barn Two-drawer organizer with paper tray on top 

    Whichever method you choose, you can keep a master list (a list with a spot for each day of the week that acts as a snapshot for what you’ll expect each week). This will help keep you on track so that things don’t sneak up on you!

*BONUS* You can schedule a reminder in your phone to remind you to look at this, or create your master list on your calendar in your phone.

Just by practicing these new habits, you’ll never have to worry about paper clutter creeping into your life again. This system, when used, takes care of it for you!

I’d love to know what works best for you so let me know 🙂

Until next time,

Sandra from TidyTime

8 thoughts on “How to Manage Paper Clutter

  1. Okay. You are a woman after my own heart. I may not be the neatest mama on the block, but one thing I do excel at is keeping paper, bills etc. organized and in its place — I’m proud to say, it really is my Type-A nature at its best. 🙂

    What an awesome post!

    • Ata girl! Best way to NEVER miss payments, in my opinion 🙂 Your husband must worship you for that…among other things! I love you type-As…you keep me on my game!

  2. I used to have clutter on my kitchen counter and table all the time, thank you girls for helping me to have a clutter free kitchen!! It is so nice to walk into a clean kitchen every day.

    • Awww! You’re so welcome Christie! We absolutely loved working with you and fun-cluttering your countertops! 😉

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