14 Tips to Reduce Paper Clutter

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14 Tips to Reduce Paper ClutterDoes it feel as if you are drowning in paper clutter?

Would you like to finally get all those pieces rounded up and under control?

In this post, I offer fourteen tips to help you manage the paper clutter that may be floating about your office or home.

Ready? Let’s begin!

Set up a postal mail/paper processing area.

Make it easy to process and properly dispose of paper with a convenient processing center.

Round up a bin for recycled papers, an electronic shredder, scissors or letter opener, and place the items in a centralized location in your office or home.

Unsubscribe yourself from junk mail lists, magazines, catalogs and newsletters.

Limit the amount of paper material in your home or office by unsubscribing yourself from mailing lists. This includes junk mail and other pieces of mail you’ve voluntarily opted to receive.

Open and process postal mail as soon as possible.

Tame pieces of mail as soon as they arrive. Get savvy about sorting mail quickly into four categories: bills and statements, correspondence, reading material (magazines, catalogs, newsletters, etc.), and junk mail.  The latter should be shredded on the spot.

Conduct regular paper clutter sweeps.

Just because something is on paper, doesn’t mean you have to keep or hold on to it. Go through your home or office on a regular basis to dispose of errant bits of paper. This is easy enough to do before you leave the office, or at the end of the day.

Remove notepads, sticky notes, and paper scraps from your reach.

Paper begets paper, so do everything you can to reduce it. If you know you’re not the best when it comes to managing small bits of paper, remove the offending items from your immediate environment. Opt for digital notes on your cell phone, tablet, or computer instead.

Use your inbox and outbox.

Haven’t used these two items in ages? You might want to take a second look at these helpful office tools! Remember, the inbox should only be used to store incoming mail; the outbox for outgoing mail, or materials to be delivered to another office, department, and so on.

Stop taking home take-out menus.

Lots of restaurant menus are available online. If you still want to keep paper menus, create a binder or manila folder to store the menus when they’re not in use.

Transfer information on scraps of paper to a more permanent format.

Do you like to jot down notes, reminders, and the like for yourself in notebooks, or scraps of paper? It’s perfectly fine to make notes this way, just be sure to transfer your notes to more permanent location, such as a paper or digital calendar, schedule, journal, or address book, at the end of every day.

Charge yourself for printing out documents.

Add a bit of financial incentive for you to not print unnecessary documents. Put a small container or jar next to your printer or computer and “charge” yourself $1.00 for each page printed. Apply the funds to your next ream or case of paper.

Use your bulletin board for bulletins.

Not every scrap of paper you have in your possession needs to be placed on your bulletin board. Use your bulletin board for timely information and notices. 

Transfer business card information to your contacts after meetings and conferences.

After every meeting, transfer all of the business cards you’ve collected to your contacts. You can do this by hand, or get a scanner to take care of the task for you.

Take paper mementos off of surfaces, and put them on the wall.

A special thank you note, a congratulations message, a birthday or post card, love note…these are all items you’d love to keep, so why not display them as art? You can either frame the items, or put them in a custom-made memo board. My blogger friend, Thea, of Time with Thea, has a great tutorial on custom-made fabric memo boards.

Have receipts emailed to you.

Tired of fumbling with receipts in your wallet? Ask for receipts of your purchases to be mailed to you, instead of taking home a traditional printed receipt.

Create and use file folders.

If you haven’t yet created a filing system for your papers and documents, now’s the perfect time to do so! When your papers and documents have a specific home, it’s easy to file items away.

How about you? Where does paper clutter seem to grow in your home or office? Are you going to tackle this area soon to put things in order? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.