Last year, I starting going through my house to pair down and eliminate the clutter. This was all due to me reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Mario Kondo. If you missed the intro to this series, you can read it here. I’ve also completed Step 1: Clothing. Today, I’m going to talk about Step 2: Paper Clutter.
I’m going to say this again, because it’s so important: if you’re going to do this right, you must read the book. You can buy it here.
When you have kids, there are papers everywhere. We have a lot of paper. The paper step of Konmari’ing your house includes all kinds of paper & media, like DVDs, Video Games, CDs, Books, etc.
I pulled out all of the various papers and quickly determined if they could be recycled, shredded, scanned or kept. Once that was done, I used my scanner to easily digitally organize the papers that I needed to keep.
I also went through Books, Coupons, Bills, Manuals, Junk Drawers, Movies, Video Games, anywhere that there was paper or media of any kind except for sentimental items.
Paper Clutter didn’t take me too long because I broke it down into parts. It’s been a year since we’ve cut down on the paper and enacted some rules regarding new paper & media that enter the house. It’s so nice not to have so much paper piling up everywhere. It really makes the house feel more clean and less cluttered.
Our New Routine
For now, I keep a magazine file in my office for things that need to be shredded. When the bin is full, I shred it using this little shredder I got from Target. We also have a tray on our entryway table to contain the mail.
Going forward, we have some rules:
- Mail should be sorted upon bringing it in the house. Junk is automatically taken to the recycle bin. Anything kept for later is placed in the mail tray, and I try to go through it twice a week.
- School work is to be looked at immediately upon entering the door from school. Once we’ve looked at it, my kids determine if its something worthy of keeping for their art/school binder or not. If not, it gets recycled. If yes, it goes to the hanging file for that grade in their keepsake box. Once a semester, we go through that grade’s file and add masterpieces to their art binder.
- Receipts & coupons from the store are to be processed immediately upon entering the house. This one has gotten much easier since I’ve been emptying my purse everyday. I can quickly scan my receipts into my various cash-back apps while putting my groceries away, then I can either keep the receipt in a file for future rebates or toss it.
Office Paper Organization
So far, we have completely eliminated the paper clutter issue. There are only two paper items that I keep: medical bills (marked paid with the date) and receipts for tax-deductible items. I keep these in Bigso Paper Drawers, with one drawer labeled Medical and one labeled Taxes. When these items come into the house, I pay them & then slip them into their folder. After I do the taxes, I scan them all, organize them with their own digital folder for that tax year, and then put them in the shred bin.
The marble letter holder keeps our envelopes and the current water bill, plus any tax notices.
I purchased my Bigso Paper Drawers at HomeGoods, but you can also find them in various solid colors and prints at The Container Store. I used my label maker with gold on clear labels to identify the drawers.
Kid Paper Organization
The kids each have their own keepsake box in their closet. I use a plastic hanging file box for each kid – these are my favorite – and they have their own color hanging folders: red for the boy, pink for the middle child, and purple for the baby. I use my label maker (gold again) to label each file with a grade. Once items come into the house that we want to keep, that kid puts them in the file for that grade. Each kid also has a 3″ binder that we keep artwork in divided by grade. Its nice to have it all in one place. If you really wanted to get rid of all of the paper, you could take pictures of all of the items & print them in a book.
I had gone through all of my books last summer during the building of the Built Ins in the Craft Room/Guest Room, and donated a ton to a book drive that my son’s school was doing, so I didn’t have a ton of books to get rid of.
For me, the paper clutter task was easy. Many people find this step difficult just because the upfront task is so overwhelming. Break it down into steps by type of “paper” items and do one set at a time. Soon, you’ll be done and on to Step 3: Komono!
Don’t forget to check out the other posts in this series!
Have you read The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo? If not, what are you waiting for? Going through your whole house is a daunting task – its taken me well over a year. But, the lessons you learn help you to quell the issues before they start as you work your way through the steps.
Have you completed Step 2: Paper Clutter yet? How do you feel? Tell me in the comments!