by Jolene Tang, Contributing Writer
Having paper clutter can actually have some harmful side effects.
One obvious health hazard is that paper gathers dust, which is something my husband and I have experienced firsthand as our allergies get out of control.
But I've also noticed that having too much paper scattered around really stresses me out. A room filled with piles of papers creates mental clutter.
So in an effort to combat these effects, the new year is the perfect time to re-evaluate your habits when it comes to tackling clutter–especially of the paper variety. So keep reading for 5 steps to help you get rid of paper clutter for good.
1. SIGN UP FOR PAPERLESS BILLING
This is the first and arguably most important step because it helps you get ahead of the game by preventing future clutter.
So, go paperless for all your billing accounts (credit cards, utilities, insurance), and unsubscribe from any additional mailing lists while you're at it.
You can even take this one step further by asking retailers to e-mail copies of your purchase receipts rather than print them. Not every store is offering this service just yet, but take advantage of the ones that do!
Basically, the less paper you bring into your home, the better.
2. CREATE A DROP ZONE FOR RECEIPTS
Despite our best efforts, our home is constantly littered with receipts. I find them everywhere- on the dining table, coffee table… even on our bedroom dresser. And it drives me nuts!
We sort our receipts into folders, one for each month, and we keep them for three months before they get shredded. But the fatal flaw of this system is that it takes too much effort to open our filing cabinet at the end of a long day, so our receipts end up everywhere except where they should be.
To solve this problem, I purchased some burlap bags (usually used for wedding favors) and hung them by the front door to make a drop zone for receipts, coupons, and even small miscellaneous items like my husband's running sunglasses.
I'm so happy with how it looks, how easy it is to use, and also how well it hides our clutter until I have time to clean it out!
3. ONLY KEEP COUPONS YOU'LL ACTUALLY USE
I know, I know… it's so tempting. You get an envelope in the mail full of coupons, and you want to keep them all “just in case” you get a chance to use them.
But honestly, I find expired coupons every time I clean out our coupon stash, and I'm betting the same thing happens to you! I forget about them because they're hidden away and I have too many of them.
Do yourself a favor and get rid of the coupons you don't really need, and then be sure to keep the ones you will use in a convenient place.
I'm currently storing them in a burlap bag, because if I need to, I can just grab the coupon bag and stick it in my purse on my way out the door when I'm on my way to run errands. It's perfect!
4. USE A COMMAND CENTER TO STAY ORGANIZED
My favorite thing about a command center is how it can organize papers in an attractive way.
I'm talking about things you need to have on hand for upcoming events, such as concert tickets, a gift card, or an invitation to an upcoming wedding. I know myself, and I want those suckers close by so I can just grab them on my way out.
A command center could also be useful for holding outgoing and incoming mail, or papers you need to shred. The possibilities are endless!
Could your household benefit from one? If so, think about any other type of clutter you could tackle while you're at it, like purses, backpacks, or keys. And if you're not even sure where to start when putting together a command center, check out this simple BITM tutorial post or this post from Happily Ever Mom for inspiration.
5. GET INTO THE HABIT OF SCANNING & SHREDDING
Earlier this year, my husband and I downsized from two filing cabinets to one small filing cabinet for paperwork. We spent a few hours each week scanning and then shredding documents that we didn't need physical copies of anymore. And let me tell you, it felt so good.
I plan to do a deep purge like this at least once a year, but I'm also trying to do this each time we bring home new papers. Nothing else goes into my filing cabinet unless it really needs to be there!
Some examples of documents you can shred are: old bills, pay stubs over a year old, tax documents over seven years old, and product manuals.
As for the last one, a surprising amount of companies now provide digital copies of product manuals as free downloads, so you can recycle that 100 page manual that came with your new blender, and save the space for other important items.
WHAT TYPE OF CLUTTER DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH THE MOST?
Jolene is a wife, DIY addict & cat lover who writes from her home in Los Angeles. She adores everything historical & vintage, and could happily wander through a used book store for hours without even buying anything. Grab a cup of tea & feel free to visit her blog, which features unique home decor ideas, DIY project tutorials, and tips on budget living.