How to Avoid Drowning in Paper Clutter

How to Avoid Drowning in Paper Clutter

Have you noticed that even in the so-called digital world of today, we are still drowning in paper? Newspapers, magazines, catalogs, brochures, flyers, and old-fashioned mail – they continue to find their way into our homes somehow.Some is welcome, some not so much. I’ll be the first to admit a weakness for reading material. I always carry a book, magazine or newspaper around with me and often can’t resist picking up some more to bring home.

But what comes in must go back out again eventually, or a mountain of paper will grow. Following a very simple system of sorting, reading and recycling will help you avoid clutter and still enjoy your reading material. By getting the paper flow under control, the important things won’t get lost and the unimportant things won’t pile up.

First, always separate out any important mail and documents as soon as they arrive. Either deal with them immediately or put them in a designated place you have identified for Important Papers. This place could be, for example, a hall table, a basket on the kitchen counter, or the in-tray of your home office. Wherever it is, it’s only for items that require a response and/or filing, such as bills, account statements, school notices, and personal mail. Drop it off there if you’re in a hurry, but remember to open and deal with it within a day or two of its arrival.

Second, put the not so important (but still interesting) papers such as newspapers, magazines and catalogs in the places where you are most likely to read them. Whether it’s the breakfast bar, a coffee table, or next to your reading chair, keep your reading material handy or else it will be forgotten or lost. If you prefer to keep your surfaces clear – or just want to tidy up before guests arrive – the OTTO Storage Stool  is a convenient place to stash magazines or last Sunday’s newspaper out of sight for a while.

Third, toss anything considered junk mail (and this should not include your spouse’s favorite catalogs!) into your recycling bin right away. The recycling bin is also the end destination for anything you’ve finished reading or that is out of date.

Don’t have a recycling bin in your home? Simply find a suitable cardboard box or plastic container. The OTTO Storage Stool is a good size and makes a good-looking recycling bin. Whatever you choose, the important thing is for everyone in the household to use it. Recycling is as easy as taking out the trash in most communities these days, so there is no excuse to send mountains of paper to landfill when it could be recycled instead. (You’ll probably want to shred any documents containing personal or financial information.)

With the arrival of the digital world, we were supposed to have a paperless future. The reality, however, is that paper seems here to stay – at least for now. But sticking to a system that helps organize what’s important, and dispose properly of what’s not, will minimize and control paper clutter until the paperless world really arrives.

About the author: Pamela Small works from a home office as a copywriter, editor and translator of business communication. Having an organized, well-designed home and workspace keeps her both happy and productive.