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Dealing with Paper Clutter

Updated on June 18, 2011

Do you find your house or office being taken over by paper? Does paper seem to multiply by itself? Do you find yourself having to constantly search for important papers such as bills and receipts? Hopefully, this article can help you deal with the nuisance of paper clutter.

There are many ways of dealing with paper clutter that will make your life more simple and that will guarantee that you won't lose any important papers.

The first step is to go through all of the papers and throw out those that you don't need to keep.

You only need to keep income tax information for 7 years; bills you might want to keep for a year; pay stubs can be thrown out after a year (it's best to keep a year for income tax purposes); receipts for other tax deductible purposes can be kept for a year; only keep store receipts for clothing and minor purchases for as long as the items are returnable; separate bills and other mail you are saving from the envelope, this will cut down on your clutter quite a bit. Important and confidential papers that are no longer needed should be shredded to avoid identity theft. You can buy a shredder for under $20.

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Microsoft Clip Art Gallery
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crisderaud stock.xchng

File Folders

Create a separate file folder for each type of paper, such as bills, receipts, tax information.

There are all sorts of file folders out there in a variety of colours. You can also buy either plastic or cardboard. You can either have a different colour for each type of folder or label them. You can buy desktop holders for files, you can buy hanging files for your drawers, and of course, you can buy a filing cabinet. 

A file folder with a cover is handy for smaller pieces of paper like store receipts.

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forwardcom stock.xchng


File your papers in binders and place them on a shelf. Of course, you would want a separate binder for each type of paper.

Buy an inexpensive 3-hole punch and insert all your papers in the binders cleanly. Label each binder. As with folders, binders come in an assortment of colours. You can also buy a holder for your binders. Then you can file everything away on a shelf.

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scol22 stock.xchng


File your paper in separate portfolios.

There is a vast selection of portfolios available. Many have zippers that enable you to safeguard small pieces of paper. They come in paper, leather, nylon.

You can even use a photographic portfolio to display your papers. The ones with plastic dividers that are for photographs will word very well for small pieces of paper that you are saving. They also enable you to see everything at a glance.

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scol22 stock.xchng

Computer Discs

Scan important papers onto your computer and save them on CD or DVD.

Scanners are quite inexpensive these days and are easy to use. In addition to scanning photographs they let you scan text.

There are many attractive storage devices for discs. You can get wallet-sized ones, or binder-sized ones.

Average Goddess talks about paper clutter

Hopefully, some of these hints will get you tackling that huge pile of paper that has taken over your desk or your dining room table. You will feel so much better about the world when you know all your papers are safe and that you don't have to look at them every single day. 


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  • Victoria Lynn profile image

    Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

    Great tips. Scanning stuff on discs is a great idea. Often, my problem is procrastinating on stuff that needs to be filed away, so it just sits and grows. Great hub, useful information! Voted up among others. Sharing!

  • Millionaire Tips profile image

    Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

    These are all great tips, as I have a paper problem. I have read this hub already, and am surprised I hadn't commented on it already. Well, it was worth a re-read.

  • Stephanie Henkel profile image

    Stephanie Henkel 6 years ago from USA

    Getting rid of paper clutter can only be accomplished by constantly working at it as paper seems to come into our homes endlessly. Your tips for various ways to organize are very helpful. Personally, I go the manila folder route and file by year in a file cabinet. That makes it easy to find if needed, and easy to hrow out when it's no longer necessary to keep.

  • profile image

    seedplanter 6 years ago

    Paper clutter has been a challenge for my entire working (writing) adult life. I clean my home office and it somehow grows paper. I've bought every type of organizational folders and still the paper takes over after a few months. It's a constant process of tossing out and making better use of digital.

    Great hub, with lots of helpful tips. (Love the intro picture!)

  • aleida_77 profile image

    aleida_77 7 years ago from Los Angeles

    Thanks for the great tips on dealing with paper clutter. I love the way you presented your ideas.

  • profile image

    shredding Houston 7 years ago

    You do not have to deal with paper clutter if you already follow an organizing system that works for you. I believe in the principle of actually making adjustments and arranging my paper files as they come so that I will not have to see an eyesore on my desk. It is easier for me to find duplicate copies and old files that I can reuse or shredded.

  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Just love organizational stuff and this hub I have bookmarked to return to once I go and buy more file containers. I think in my basement I have all the paperwork and tax info for the past twelve years. Time to purge.

  • profile image

    kims3003 7 years ago

    Very informative with great tips and ideas. Excellent choice of Amazon products. Well put together hub and well presented. Nice writing style. A+! work!!

  • Sunnyglitter profile image

    Sunnyglitter 7 years ago from Cyberspace

    I have an insane amount of paper clutter in my house. I need to try these tips ASAP.

  • seanorjohn profile image

    seanorjohn 7 years ago

    Paper clutter. You have cracked it. Hope you make some dosh. It is this sort of unglamorous thing that can make money. Well done.

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 9 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks for all the great comments. are way ahead of most of us towards a paperless society :)

  • tring-sandra profile image

    tring-sandra 9 years ago from UK

    There are many ways of dealing with paper clutter that will make your life more simple and that will guarantee that you won't lose any important papers.

  • SweetiePie profile image

    SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

    Computer disks are my favorite way of scanning and keeping track of documents. I do not even like to print out pictures these days because I can view the disks on my computer, on even on my dvd player when I get a new TV that is compatible.

  • ripplemaker profile image

    Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

    I find myself keeping lots of papers...and you are right, one has to constantly go through them and see if they should be filed properly or just thrown away. :-)

  • SiddSingh profile image

    SiddSingh 9 years ago

    Its amazing how paper clutter keeps coming back to haunt you even with so much automation going around, not to talk of the "paperless" workplaces. Thanks for the absolutely useful information!

  • Dottie1 profile image

    Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

    Paper clutter...who needs it! Thanks for ideas.

  • born to be free profile image

    born to be free 9 years ago

    Well, I see from that picture that you have somehow gotten in to my work at home office! I sware, I didn't do it. LOL

  • profile image

    France  9 years ago

    Helpful hub, Uninvitedwriter! A very timely reminder for me after all of my new year's resolution to be neat and orderly in my small space. LOL.

  • Princessa profile image

    Wendy Iturrizaga 9 years ago from France

    Yes, yes and yes to your three questions :(

    I really need to put some order. Thanks for the remainder. I am sure that my life would improve a lot if I tackle my mountain of papers, at least I would not have services being cut off or meetings not attended because I never read the invitations!

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 9 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks Johnny. I changed it to 7 years :)

  • profile image

    johnny yuma1 9 years ago

    This is a great piece.  It sounds pretty much like what my wife and I already do, but the tax people now days epect you to keep your records for seven years I think rather than five.  Isn't it amazing how fast trash can pile up if we only let it?  It seems to multiply faster than rabbitts do.

    I love this piece!

    Johnny Yuma