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How to Organize Paper- Tips for Keeping Clutter Away

Updated on July 30, 2012

Every home has hot spots. These are places where papers, bills, homework, and art projects pile up. Perhaps your hotspot is on a desk, counter, table, or by the front door. The pile of papers slowly mounts higher and higher as the days go by. Soon, you are terrified to go near it for fear of it toppling over and suffocating you.

If you live in a small house, paper clutter is one of those things that makes a house feel messy and cramped. Sure if you had a big home you'd have a whole office for your papers. But here's a secret-even people with big houses have offices filled with paper clutter. More space doesn't mean more organized. It usually means more places to gather crap.

Never fear. This article will give you ideas to deal with bills, artwork, homework, junk mail, cards, and crafting papers. You'll have those papers under control and no more tower o'bills!

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Bills

The postman delivers way too many of these. If only invoice wallpaper was in style, your house would be the hippest on the block. Here is the easiest way to deal with bills: switch to online billing. Instead of paper statements cluttering up your home, let them clutter up your email where you don’t have to stare at them day in and day out. If that isn’t an option for you because you are still terrified of the Internet, here are some other choices.

Wall mounted bill sorter: This handy little tool keeps bills off of surfaces. You can purchase a fancy one or make one yourself. To make one, simply reuse an old folder, large envelope, or other piece of cardboard. Cut out a hole so it has a pouch and tack that thing up on the wall.

Once you've paid the bill, get rid of it! There is no need to keep twelve years worth of phone bills. Yes you have to keep bank statements, pay stubs, and tax documents, but the IRS doesn't want to see your fifty five cable bills. Get a little shredder and keep it near the trash can. Either that or throw papers in a recycle bin and when it's full, go burn it in the fire pit out back.

Inexpensive display
Inexpensive display | Source
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Artwork

How do you stay on top of art project # 134500 when little Johnny cries at the thought of it disappearing? You know you wait until he's asleep and then trash as many as you can without him noticing. If you don't, you will all have to move out soon! Here are some tips to keep your house from looking like a nursery school.

Rubbermaid Special Box
In our home, each child gets one rubbermaid tote that slips easily under the bed. They can choose whatever art projects they like to put in the tote and after that- we find that art piece another home. Every year, you can go through it with your child and clean it out to make room for the new pieces. Eden loved her little handmade mittens at the end of preschool, but by next year- she was ready to send them on their way because she had something more magical to replace it with. You'll avoid a lot of tears this way.

Take pictures and make a scrapbook!
We all have iphones and cameras coming out our ears. As artwork comes home, take a snapshot of it. At the end of the year, you can compile the photos and put them on a photo sharing sight, a blog, a digital scrapbook, or a photo album.

Make an art wall
Maybe you can use the wall that goes downstairs to the basement playroom or the back of their door to place small cork boards. The key is to use wall space. There are a million adorable displays that can be bought or made to showcase artwork.

Frame one special piece
Kids are more likely to let go of 15 projects if they know you are going to make the effort to frame a really nice piece done in school. It's not a cheap option- but it will look tres chic on the wall with a cool matte and frame.

She took pictures and displayed them in a frame
She took pictures and displayed them in a frame | Source
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Homework, dittos, spelling tests, oh my!

It has got to be at least one full tree's worth of paper that comes home in my kid's backpacks each week. Aside from the time it takes to look through each ditto (which I don't do- shh!), what do I do with them when I'm done?

Recycle bin
If you are someone who likes to throw things away, be free to do so. A nice recycle bin for papers is easy and I wait until it's full before emptying. The up side is if I've mistakenly thrown something in there that is precious, we can easily rummage through it to find what we're looking for. I empty my bin every two weeks. If you or your child hasn't gone looking for it in 14 days, more than likely neither of you will suffer without it in your home.

Binder
If you want to keep papers for some reason, why not get a binder with some sheet protectors? Every week, go through the mounting stack of worksheets and pick out a couple that are noteworthy. Here's a tip: don't get a binder for every year. It's better to have one binder full of accomplishments than twelve binders. It's about quality, not quantity.

Wall mounted organizers
With the constant in and out of homework papers, each child absolutely must have a spot for their work. Keep it on the wall if you can. Make it accessible to them so they can easily transfer papers from their backpacks into a storage spot.

Junk Mail

Throw it away. Recycle it.

If you're an artist, perhaps you can use some of this wasted paper for funky and fun art projects.


**WARNING**
Looking at these pictures may completely derail you from your paper clutter organization project.

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Clock made out of junk mail
Clock made out of junk mail | Source
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Cards

Cards are a fun and whimsical way to add color to a room. If you don't have a wall hanging specifically designed to hold cards, consider these easy display locations.

  • Tape them along a door frame
  • Use a window to display a card in each pane
  • Line them up along a chair rail
  • Use the fridge
  • String them along the stair case banister
  • Cut out the images and paste them on a card stock for a cute way to reuse paper and keep the Earth green!

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Craft papers

If you are the artsy sort, collecting paper might be just the thing you love to do. Keeping them organized so you can grab what you need when you need it, will help the creative process tremendously.

  • Organize by color- all the red papers in one bin, blue, green, and so forth.
  • Organize by use- a bin for the card making supplies, a bin for wrapping paper, a bin for scraps, etc.
  • Organize by project- collect all the materials for a particular idea in a bin

Hanging bags
This idea is really neat. You clip large ziploc bags onto hangers and store the papers you need. Line them up in a closet and it's super easy to look through your options.

Paper can be fun

It really doesn't have to take over your home. The only rules to paper organization are this:

  • Don't use high traffic surfaces like counter space and tables
  • Don't keep all different kinds of papers in one spot (bills, homework, artwork, etc.)
  • Use the wall!
  • Cork boards are your friend
  • So are clothespins and rope
  • Use digital storage whenever possible

-Julie DeNeen

Comments

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    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      good advise,Arlene was good at this. she used many of your strategies.

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 4 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Julie, wow! What a useful hub! I'm always trying to find the best way to deal with paper in my home. My first suggestion and wish is that companies and businesses STOP sending offers and junk mail. Is there any way to opt out? I do most of my bill paying online so I no longer get bills in the mail, but it's amazing how much mail I still get that I don't want.

      I love the organization ideas you presented! This was truly helpful.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image
      Author

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      @josh- thank you. That junk mail art was incredible!

      @cybershelley- Your welcome :)

      @catgypsy- It's really true that space equals more opportunity for clutter!

      @northlandws- Wow great job!

      @heather- Thanks! :)

    • Heather Jacobs profile image

      Heather Jacobs 4 years ago

      Great ideas! I have to put some of those into action.

    • northlandws profile image

      northlandws 4 years ago from Fargo, North Dakota

      I had been clutter free for a year now. It took me a while to get an effective system. I like your ideas!

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Great hub! I had to laugh because I always say the more space you have the more junk you get! Papers can be so confusing...what to keep, what to throw away? Thanks for the tips!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 4 years ago

      Hi Julie, a beautiful, art filled hub with the most marvelous ideas. Thank you for sharing. Voted up and awesome.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Excellent job Julie, I loved the pictures, and all the great ideas! :) interesting information, and I loved your introduction! :) Keep up the great work! :) voted up, interesting, useful, awesome, and sharing

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