Ending Paper Clutter–It’s Mind Over Paper


Nothing could have prepared me for the unprecedented amount of paper coming into my home. Between mail, catalogs, forms, documents, and school papers, we were drowning in paper clutter. Changes were in order, and fast. I needed will power and a plan to stay on top of the daily piles of paper clutter. It was mind over matter. “Mind Over Paper,” actually. I was determined to end paper clutter. 

I have spent the last year genuinely trying to organize and de-clutter. Paper clutter is a major component to feeling overwhelmed and disorganized at home.

With five kids in the house, I knew there would be a lot of paper sent home from school. Every parent goes through this. How much came home from school wasn’t within my control. But how I handled paperwork was. Next, it occurred to me that I could control some of the origins of our paper stream. Simple strategies that you can begin today will put you on the right path.

First, I went paperless.

  • While this may seem obvious, I was surprised how much was still coming to my mailbox in paper form. I also found that I was actually paying a fee to receive paper statements from the bank! 
  • Next, I kept track of all the retail catalogs and direct mail pieces we received. Tons of thick, glossy catalogs advertising everything from office supplies to pet medication appeared in our mailbox. From there, I spent an afternoon calling each vendor and requesting no more direct mail. Two months later, I did the same thing. While it was sad to not receive Tiffany’s look book, I’m at peace with it. I know that I can peruse office supplies, pet medication, and Tiffany online anytime. 

I accepted that it was unrealistic that I would keep each piece of artwork created by my children.

  • This part was really hard for me. Others parents report creating three-ring binders to store their kids’ artwork. Others take digital pictures of the art and store them electronically. In the end, I invested in individual portfolios to keep special pieces. Then let the rest go. I highly recommend the portfolios at Lakeshore Learning. They will also personalize them. Bonus! 
Organize artwork in portfolios.
  • Subsequently, I use three-ring binders to store important family papers. It’s more practical than a filing cabinet. Each family member has a tab for medical info, birth certificates, or activity forms. I also store medical insurance cards, passports, and membership cards. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, I can take the binder and have everything in one place. 
  • Finally, I have a basic, shallow, paper sized box for keeping mail or forms that need my attention. I’m religious about not exceeding the limits of this box with “to do” papers, and tackle it weekly. Anything more is creating paper clutter. 
Paper/mail that requires attention can be stored simply.

Keeping paper clutter at bay is a daily duty. It’s a cycle that requires management. However, the best motivation is seeing clearer counter tops and desks. Carve out time to stay on top of it, and make yourself accountable. What clutter strategies work for your family?