I’m back today with part two of my top ten ways to control paper clutter post. You can read the first half of my top ten list here. Things got a little out of hand last time because it turns out that I have a lot to say about paper clutter management techniques! I decided to split this post into two parts to keep things simple. After all, the whole point is to give you easy-to-execute, unoverwhelming ideas for managing your paper clutter, and making you read a novel to get those ideas all in one sitting is just kind of the opposite of that!
So let’s continue on! Let’s tackle that clutter!
A Magazine and Catalog Rack
This is a really basic piece of home furnishing that most people have in their homes. You may be thinking that it’s actually the cause of clutter rather than a controller of it, but it’s all in how you use it! A magazine and catalog rack is the place in your home where magazines and catalogs should be kept. This also means that this is the only place they should be kept. When it gets too full, that’s your cue to recycle a few older issues to keep things tidy. It’s as easy as that! If you can’t fit that newest magazine in there that just came in the mail, you know it’s time to take 37 seconds out of your day and take action. For the record, I’m also OK with keeping a few favorite back issues of a magazine. I don’t think that’s a paper clutter death sentence at all, you just need to be smart about it. Pick up a few nice magazine files that you know you’ll really enjoy using and place all of your favorite old magazines somewhere on a shelf. Make sure you buy extra so you can add to your collection as time goes on.
A Bulletin Board
Again, this is something that we think of as a clutter creator, but it’s all in how you use it. A bulletin board can be a great place to keep paper bills that need to be remembered, family calendars, gift cards, receipts, and all the little things that you want to keep right in view but not scattered on a counter somewhere. We built this long, sectioned bulletin board in our laundry room so we look at it every time we fold laundry. We keep all kinds of things on there and it’s so pretty that we’re always motivated to keep it current and make sure we’re getting rid of things that we don’t need on there any more.
I love a good well-executed binder system. They can take a little bit of time to set up, but once you’ve got it in use, you’re all set. I use binders for things like my business receipts for taxes, all of my blogging planning, gardening, and then I have a basic household binder as well. They hold a ton of paper in such a little space and look so tidy on a shelf that you would never know the world of information hiding there in those binders. I also like to use a binder for each school year for the kids so I have somewhere to put all the work that comes home from school all the time. I get to feel like I’m that nice mom that keeps and cherishes all of her kids artwork and school papers, but I don’t have to have it staring me in the face all the time.
A Ruthless Attitude
Let’s be clear, if you’re going to have success with getting rid of paper clutter, you’re going to have to adopt a bit of a ruthless attitude at times to really get the result you want. You’re going to have to get mad at it. You’re going to have to make some tough decisions about sentimental items that you might come across because you just can’t keep everything. It sounds a bit dramatic, but if your paper clutter situation is really out of hand, it’s very important you get angry at it and you deal with it. Having a clean, tidy home that functions well and doesn’t cause you to come up against road blocks whenever you try to do anything is literally life changing and you have to be angry enough to demand that you give yourself that kind of new life. It’s not hard because really, it’s as simple as picking up one little piece of paper at a time and working your way through it, but it is important.
If you make your intentions clear to the other people in your home, soon you’ll find that you have built-in paper clutter controllers! It’s not about nagging, but it is about letting them know that you’re trying to get this under control and asking for their help. After that initial announcement, you need to follow up and let them know that you mean it. Of course, they’ll see you tackling monumental piles of clutter, but the real deal-sealer comes when you casually ask them to do things in an everyday situation in a way that you didn’t before. When your kids get home and you take all the newsletters and announcements out of their backpacks, hand those papers to them and say “Hey, could you please toss this into that recycling pile over there?” Just all normal-like. As if it’s something you’ve all been doing all along. 🙂 That’s when it will really start to sink in.
So those are my extremely lengthy thoughts on paper clutter! Hopefully you found one or two ideas in here that you can implement in your own home to make a difference. If you have any great paper clutter management strategies, I’d love to hear about them! Please share in the comments below so we can all learn!
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.