how to organize paperwork at home
Simplify Your Spaces

How to Deal with Paper Clutter

Even in our digital age, we seem to have a lot of paperwork.

1.  Turn off the faucet

I don’t mean the literal faucet.  I mean the paper faucet.  If you’re flooded with paperwork, look for ways to stop it from coming in (turn off the faucet).

If you’re getting credit card offers, sign up for the pre-screen opt out and stop them from being mailed to you.  If you’re getting catalogs you never even look at, sign up for one of the free services that stop them for you or simply write “Return to Sender” with a note saying “please remove me from your list” and stick it back in the mail. 

Sign up for paperless billing for all of your utilities.  The bills are sent right to your e-mail inbox.

Sign up for paperless services for your insurance and banking. 

Things are automatically more organized when there’s less of it.  See where you can cut back on paperwork so you have less to file.

organize documents at home
The world’s most beautiful file cabinet … crammed full of paperwork

2.  Everything comes out before anything goes back in

This is the decluttering method I use for any clean out process.  You can’t organize effectively until you have an empty space.  If all of your paperwork is in a file cabinet then clean out ALL of the drawers before you even start sorting.  This keeps you from opening and closing drawers over and over again trying to put things in their new spot.

how to organize papers
It all had to come out

3.  Make piles (categories)

The piles we used to sort were …

  • Taxes
  • Banking
  • Insurance
  • Warranties and Manuals
  • Misc Receipts

We made piles on top of the table, in the chairs, and on the floor.  Wherever we had room to make a pile.

overwhelmed by paper clutter
Sometimes it looks worse before it gets better

4.  Start sorting

Anything outdated is shredded.  Anything you no longer need has to go. 

Everything you keep is then organized, usually by date, put in folders, and filed back in the cabinet.

* BONUS TIP * If you’re a fellow empty nester and are keeping paperwork for your grown children, it’s time to give it to them.  If they’re old enough to not live with you then they’re old enough to take care of their own paperwork.    

REMINDER: Shred anything that has personal information on it and be sure to recycle what you can.

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