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How to Manage Paper Clutter

Updated on August 12, 2012

If you are a pack rat (like me) then you find yourself in a sea of paper in your
office or home making false promises to yourself that you will take care of the
clutter later. An easy solution is to organize and then digitize.

Some of the things you may need to organize and digitize are:

File Cabinets and Drawers

Room to store files (If you have no room, you will need the items below)

Computer (optional)

Scanner (optional)

Digital Camera (optional)

You come to a situation (like hosting visitors or parties) where you have to organize your junk and there's no time for it. You end up having to hide or move the paper clutter where it becomes out of mind and out of sight. Later, you have clutter that is unmanageable to hide, move, and hard to organize. Organize and then digitize.

First, organize your papers into two categories: file and throw away. You can add more categories like "undecided" or "follow-up". The follow up category involves items that need immediate attention like important office tasks, bills or shopping offers that are about to expire.

For the items that you don't throw away, sort what needs to be scanned or digitized. If your office has a high speed scanner, you have the perfect tool to scan your office documents and file in a computer. If this high speed scanner has multiple sheet feeders, then you can
digitize the hardcopies even faster.

If you don't have a scanner and a computer for the home then get one to
scan your documents, especially if storage or space in your home is limited. Otherwise, organize and file your papers in a drawer or cabinet. Alternatively, have someone do it for you.

If you have lots of paper to scan and you think the scanner is too slow, use your digital camera as a scanner. See the ehow "How to turn digital camera into scanner" for the best instructions on the digital camera use.

Some parents with elementary school aged kids can end up collecting tons of paper from the school, ranging from art work to tests. Use the digital camera to make a record of these items. For these situations, you don't need to set up the camera in a special way. Just take photos WITHOUT the aid of tripod or document mounting.

Below are other examples of items to document, digitize, and throwing away the originals.

1. Your kids' first drawings at home or school.
2. Your kids' first test with an "A", smiley face, or star.
3. Any kids' artwork or craft with sentimental value.
4. An article or ad from a book, newspaper, or magazine. You can throw
away the rest of the book or document if you don't need it.
5. An event program or paper award.
6. Recipes. They come in all shapes and sizes from paper/print media.
7. Important receipts that you like to keep permanently.

If the work is too overwhelming, do a little bit at a time over several weeks or months. Establish an end date for your clutter organization and keep it. It is a good idea to backup your scanned (or digitized) files in a blank CD or DVD. If you lose your precious computer files with years of personal information, it will be gone forever unless you have a hard copy version. If you have decluttered your home, the hard copy version may not be available at all. Please backup.


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    • Romian1 profile image

      Romian1 5 years ago

      Thank you for your comments.

    • editsvcs profile image

      editsvcs 5 years ago

      Interesting idea about the kid's artwork. We collect all artwork in one place over the course of the school year and then pick our favorite ten to keep at the end of the year. Good idea to digitize the others, will be using that this year!

      Another method of reducing clutter is keep it from coming in the house in the first place. I process our mail in the garage - anything I don't need or want goes directly into the recycle bin and doesn't get a chance to clutter the house.