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Get Your Paper Clutter Under Control

get your paper clutter under control

Is paperwork taking over your home? It can pile up quickly. Start by creating a system to sort and store your paperwork. Here are several tips to reduce and organize the stacks of paper in your home and prevent it from accumulating.

Incoming Mail

Before setting the mail on the counter, walk over to the wastebasket and toss junk mail and ads you don’t need. Call companies to remove your name from mailing lists for any mail that you no longer want to receive. Sort the mail into these categories:

Short-Term Filing

Sorting your mail into these categories will prevent it from piling up and getting out of control.

  • To pay - bills

  • To do – add appointment reminders to your calendar, respond to invitations, fill out forms, etc.

  • To read – magazines, newspapers, etc.

Set aside a place in your home to hold short-term files 

There are several methods for storing paperwork, the key is finding one that you will use. If you want the files to be visible and easy to access try one of the desktop file organizers below. If you prefer the papers to be neatly hidden away, choose lidded storage boxes or file cabinets.

Individual file folders, a lidded box or wall file holders work well too.

Once you have sorted the mail into categories, put the paperwork into a “To be Filed” folder. Then, once a month or so, transfer the paperwork you need to keep from your short-term filing into a long-term hanging file by category. Note that once bills are paid or they appear on your credit card statement, you can toss the actual bill. Consider signing up for auto pay for monthly bills or any bills that come on a regular frequency.

Keep current magazines in a decorative basket or bin or stack them on your coffee table or nightstand to keep them easily accessible. Once you have read them, save or scan any articles you want to keep and recycle the magazines. Remember, you will be getting another issue soon!

Long-Term Filing

There are a number of filing methods, so it is important to choose a system of labeling the files that makes it easy to find the paperwork later. Read this guide that explains how long to keep important papers.

Here is a list of suggested file folder label names


  • Purchase agreement, payments, title

  • Auto insurance, registration cards, AAA

  • Auto maintenance


  • Credit card statements

  • Bank statements

  • Investment files – keep a separate file for each investment company


  • Real estate purchase or rental agreement

  • Mortgage or rental payments

  • Home insurance records

  • Home improvement records (renovations, additions, painting, roofing, decks, fencing, etc.)

  • Receipts for furniture and other home goods purchases

  • List of home paint colors

  • Home maintenance service records (pest control, heating & air, etc.)

  • Appliance manuals (access them online and eliminate the bulky manuals)

  • Landscaping records (plants, plans, mulch, lawn maintenance)

Important Papers

  • Social security card, birth certificate, marriage certificate, passport, will


  • Student

  • Personal


  • Dentist – bills, records

  • Eye Doctor – bills, records

  • Doctors – bills, records

  • Insurance plans and coverage

  • List of current medications


  • Receipts for jewelry, watches


  • Purchase records

  • Cable company bills

  • Cell phone purchase and landline bills

Digitize your paper files

Use your printer or smartphone to scan important paperwork online and save physical file storage space. Create digital files for things like vital records, newspaper clippings, letters, certificates, diplomas, home paint colors, addresses and travel notes.

Set up a daily routine

The best way to get paper clutter under control is to prevent it from happening. Set aside a file drawer for anything you need to keep long term. Once you have a designated place for paperwork to go, you will find it's a snap to keep it that way.

Happy Organizing!



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