Are your kitchen counters drowning in junk mail and kids’ art? Learn how to stop paper clutter before it starts with three easy and inexpensive methods.
What could possibly elevate your anxiety more than a two-foot-tall pile of naked Barbie dolls in your living room, or the remains of a Lego project gone awry in front of your stove?
A pile of mail, homework, and kids’ artwork you need to declutter before it topples over and buries you alive.
If you’re like me, papers enter your kitchen and reproduce like bunnies, causing random scraps of children’s “art” to bury important stuff that requires attention. (Whoops! Totally missed that party invitation!)
The trouble is, decluttering is often overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin.
You may have tried a few fairly obvious ways to stop paper clutter from entering your home or causing chaos when it does, such as:
- Switching to paperless billing whenever possible
- Scanning important papers into Evernote to save and organize digital copies
- Using an app to curate kids’ artwork (a total bust – it took way too much time)
A “paperless home” is a nice goal, but it’s a very lofty one for most people – especially those of us with kids.
You can reduce paper clutter by signing up for paperless billing and removing yourself from junk mail lists, but still end up with a pile of school papers on your kitchen counter every day.
Our lack of system didn’t work, so now we use a few simple methods to deal with papers before they become a problem. These three inexpensive systems have considerably reduced the paper clutter in our home.
How to Stop Paper Clutter and Stay Organized
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1. Create “Cubbies” for Kids
If your children are in daycare or at school, they understand a cubby system (or locker system if they’re big kids!). It’s a place to put their books, papers, lunchbox, etc. when they arrive at school, and if it works well for teachers everywhere, it can work at home, too.
The goal is for kids to immediately empty and hang up their backpacks, and put any papers/artwork/treasures in their cubbies.
2. Immediately Sort Papers in a Desktop File Box
It’s best to toss catalogs and junk mail into the recycling bin right away, but there are certain types of papers that you need to keep.
Mail or school papers that require immediate attention are indeed left on our kitchen counter, and I do my best to address them every evening. Other papers are filed into this desktop file box that I keep on our command center:
- Deal With: Actionable papers that do not require immediate attention but require a decision.
- Kids folders: Class lists and school information that are frequently referenced.
- To File: Papers that do not require action but need should be kept and stored in your main filing cabinet.
- Receipts: Receipts for major purchases and those that are needed for tax purposes. Throw away all other receipts.
- Coupons: I’m terrible about using coupons, so my goal is to put them in this folder and check the folder before I leave to go shopping.
3. File Kids’ Artwork and Special Mementos by Grade
Do you have a hard time parting with sentimental clutter? Create a folder for each grade to sort and keep those little masterpieces.
A single folder for each grade forces you to only hang on to what fits in the folder.
Get ahead of the game and create folders for future grades.
Just Say “No!” to Paper Clutter! (free resource sheet)
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Paper Clutter Solutions
Here are several useful – and attractive – paper clutter solutions to help you organize paperwork and kids’ artwork. Click on an image to learn more and purchase if it’s right for you.
What strategies do you use to stop paper clutter? Please share them in the comments section!