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Paper Management 101

How to Manage Paper Clutter


Paper management is "exhausting" and a "beast" proclaims Gillian Wells founder of Simple Solutions professional organizing service in New York City. That's why it's so important to take your time and set up a system that works for you. Below are several resources to help you develop a better paper management system.

Learn how to manage your mail

Self Inking Stamps from Z Gallerie
Photo / Z Gallerie

No doubt the largest source of paper clutter in your home is incoming mail. Learn how to manage all sorts of including mail: junk mail, fliers, bills, invitations, tasks, greeting cards and more.

You can also read How I Manage Mail.

How to declutter your mail and papers in just 30 minutes a week

Cabo Basket Rectangular by Design Ideas - Large
Photo / Design Ideas

Incorporating paper management into your Weekly Organizing Routine will mean less hassle in the long run. The more often you declutter by sorting, recycling and shredding, the less stress.

How to Declutter Mail + Paper in 30 Minutes a Week

Stop junk mail today

Stop Junk Mail
Michael Blann - Getty Images

You don't remember signing up to receive announcements from company X, but here they are each week in your mail anyway. Stop junk mail from piling up in your home by getting off mailing lists. Here's how:

How to Stop Junk Mail

A checklist for how long to keep documents

Don't keep more paper than you absolutely have to! Use our easy reference guide for how long to keep paper documents. Then decide if you want to keep a hard copy, or scan them.

How Long Do I Have To Keep This Document?

What to shred? A quick checklist

Ikea office storage
Ikea office storage

Here's a very handy checklist to use while going through your paper work, organizing a home filing system or even just opening your mail. This printable list sets the guidelines for what to shred and then gives a specific list of documents that need to be shredded as soon as they are out of use or out of date.

What to Shred Checklist

Choosing the right shredder

Using Fellowes P-12C Cross-Cut Shredder
Photo / Fellowes

Read a long as I review the Fellowes Cross-Cut shredder to learn about the latest in shredding technology and the features you should look for when purchasing a shredder.

Fellowes Shredder Review

Organizing your recipes

Chartreuse Dots Recipe Box from Paper Source
Chartreuse Dots Recipe Box from Paper Source
A large source of paper clutter in the kitchen are recipes. Recipes tend to come in many different forms: newspaper and magazine clipping, hand-written recipes or gifted recipes on notecards. The trick is to find a recipe organizer that work for you and stick with that system. Here are my picks for the best Recipe Organizers.

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Identity Theft Protection
Dimitri Vervitsiotis / Getty Images

I spoke to Jay Foley, executive director of the Identity Theft Resource Center, about simple ways you can protect yourself by properly storing, organizing and shredding your mail. Learn the ins-and-outs of what to shred.

What Documents Do I Need To Shred?

The importance of a desktop filebox both at work and at home

SuperTab Expanding File by Smead
Photo / Smead

Wells recommends establishing a desk top filing box ready for the following documents:

  • Phone calls to make
  • Bills to pay
  • Documents that require follow up
  • Invitations to respond to

"Group like with like--just like when you organize clothes," says Wells.

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