How to Achieve a Paper Clutter-Free Home
Early this year, I've tackled all our paper and document clutter at home. From personal records, bank statements, warranties, manuals, receipts, brochures, training materials and many more. I've already done this 2 years ago when I started my KonMari journey, but paper clutter just accumulates way too fast!
It has been 6 months now, and I could say that I might have finally mastered having a paper clutter-free home. Here's a walk through of how you can achieve one in just five steps!
1. Gather everything in one place.
You can make a list of all the paper items you have in your home. To make it easier, you can download my free decluttering checklist here to get started. Make sure to check thoroughly each drawer, cabinet, shelves, bins, and even your purse!
2. Check every single piece of paper
Yes, one by one! Open each envelope and check what's inside. It's time consuming and tiring but also a lot of fun to unearth unexpected items!
It was nostalgic for me to see my college course cards, enrollment receipts and even the class schedules I used to print out and give to my friends! I've kept these for more than 10 years already! I decided to let them go after taking a photo of them.
3. Sort and decide which ones to keep
Prepare 4 baskets or boxes where you can temporarily place each paper item as you sort.
Categorize the four boxes into:
As you purge your paper items, focus on what you need to keep. Go paperless as much as possible and keep only the essentials:
- Those you are currently using
- Those you need for a limited time
- Those you need to keep forever
There are certain documents that need further action before discarding or keeping. Place those in this category so you don't spend too much time in your decluttering process. Just remember to act on these pending documents right after!
Documents containing your personal, financial and account information need to be shredded before throwing away to avoid identify theft. Invest on a shredder or borrow one from a friend.
Those that can be safely re-used as a scratch paper, wrapper, or donated to a recycling center can be kept in a separate box. Place it in an accessible but hidden area, and create a regular schedule on when to clear it up.
4. File away
Sort again your KEEP pile and file according to the type of documents you ended up keeping. After my decluttering process, I was able to reduce my paper clutter to just three categories.
- Permanent files (personal, financial, legal documents) all kept in a sturdy expandable file organizer that I can just grab and go if there's any emergencies
- Medical records also kept in an expandable file organizer and sorted per illness and person
- Appliance/gadgets receipts and warranties kept in a clear book for easy viewing
5. Remain paper clutter free
Unfortunately, paper clutter does not stop after your declutter and organize. I learned the hard way. Good news is, remaining paper clutter-free is achievable long term if you STOP them from accumulating. I've found two ways to do this.
First is to identify the source of your paper clutter and see how to eliminate them entirely. Ditch appliance manuals that have online references, contact your service providers and ask for paperless option for your monthly bills and financial statements. Refuse getting flyers of real estates and commercial products the next time you go to the mall. Taking a few minutes to do these can drastically reduce the amount of unnecessary paper clutter in your home.
Second is to deal with your paper clutter regularly. I've dedicated a bin to temporarily store all incoming mails or documents as they come. On a weekly basis, I deal with these by either discarding or filing them properly.
I'm so happy that we're able to maintain a home that is paper clutter-free. It frees up our space, time and energy! Hoping these steps can help you achieve a paper clutter-free home too!