How to Stop the Paper Trail

There are only nine weeks left in 2012 and to finish it out right in true ‘Clean and Organized 2012’ fashion, I’m going to take us through a simple series on letting go of paper clutter.  Paper clutter is my nemesis and I’ve made great strides in the past couple years, but I want to really kick the paper clutter to the curb by the end of 2012.
{If you are waiting until New Year’s to make this your resolution, just start here now, it’ll be simple and they say a habit takes three weeks to form, so you’ll have the paper trail under control and you can concentrate on a better use of your resolution energy.}
I’ll suggest a task at the beginning of each week and update during the week with  progress and/or ideas.  I’d love it if you chime in on Facebook or in the comments with your ideas, links, successes, and struggles.  For now, tell me if you are “in” or if you are interested and what your biggest paper clutter issue is.  I’ve started a pinboard of great paper clutter busting ideas.  If you have figured out a clever way to store/sort/get rid of paper, leave a link in the comments and I’ll pin it to the board.   I’d absolutely LOVE it if you pinned this post to get the word out.
Click here to see all the posts in this series.


  1. Yay I am so in on this. I have folder upon folder of paper work that I cannot face because it is just too big so this will hopefully be the boost I need to get rid of even more clutter. I can’t wait!

  2. I personally make everything digital using my scanner. I only keep the essentials (marriage license, birth certificates, etc).

    I even did this with past school work, almost done with it.

  3. Oh Becky bless you. I have moved my studio downstairs and the paper “stuff” is taking over to the point I can’t get anything else done. I am soooooo in!


  4. I am soooo in! I am chaotic bij nature (and ADD and BPD don’t really help..) and need all the tips I can get!

  5. I need this in the worst way! I can never find what I need and I save way too much.

  6. I’m I’m. I think my biggest paper problem is receipts- the ones I need to put in my checkbook register(debit card purchases)

  7. paper clutter is the WORST around here! My spouse and kids don’t seem to be bothered by it, so I’m the only one fighting it, it seems.

  8. Oh, I’m definitely in. Paper clutter is horrible here! My 10 year old is a paper hoarder. And I’m guilty of not getting rid of as much as I should.

  9. Oh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one with the paper issue!
    xo, Becky

  10. I am so in on this! The Husband is a total paper hoarder, and I’m starting to forget with my granite in my kitchen actually looks like without a bazillion pieces of paper on it!

  11. I’m in! It will be great to get a jump start on this!!

  12. Oh gosh, paper clutter…I am so bad with paper i have 4 yes i said 4 milk crates in my dining room that need to be gone through. I NEED this in the worst way!!!!

  13. I’m in! I just started working on my craft room/woman cave and the paper seems to be having babies while I clean!

  14. I am so in!!! I am not sure how to link what has worked for me…I shared it with you on fb (it’s from A Bowl Full of Lemons) and it is a hanging file system on my countertop with files for each person in my family, a file for bills, receipts, box tops, and recipes. It keeps the clutter off of the countertop, looks cute and keeps me organized! My only problem is when the files get full…what do you do with all the bills once they are paid? Also, the kid’s paperwork…

  15. I found the link (if you scroll down to the hanging file folder holder 🙂 I also pinned it (and yours!)

  16. I am SO in! I’m drowning in papers at home thanks to all of my volunteer work, school sending home packet after packet and my 2 office jobs where I sometimes work from home.

  17. I will be following along and TRYING to FOLLOW along! Paper clutter is definitely one of my biggest challenges in our home.

  18. I’m in! I have piles in my office/guest room that are starting to look like furniture. I carry all the paper upstairs so the first floor always is neat and tidy but then it piles!

  19. Oh, I am sooo in!!! Piles and piles!!! UGH!

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  21. I’m in!

    I’m the worst with paper clutter. Living in a 800 square foot apartment, I don’t have much space for an office to store important documents. Right now I have a small file holder hiding in an ottoman. But until I file, I keep stacks of paper (bills, bank documents, checks, mail, etc…) on my counter until I get around to filing them. AND my file folders are getting larger and larger. I need to sort this out!

  22. There is an app you can download to your smartphone called PaperKarma that will take care of your junk mail problem by taking a picture of the mail. I am going to try it.

    Find out more at this link

  23. I am in! Paper is my worst enemy! I just started a home business too so I REALLY need to get organized. Thank you!

  24. I’m so in. Paper is the bain of my existence, yet I never have taken strides to stop the paper trail coming in the door in the first place. We own a business and I’m ashamed to say we have 3 + years of paper work busting out of a filing cabinet right now that I can’t even stand to look at. We are hopefully about to make the leap into digitizing everything and I hope that we find a good system to use to do that. I need all your tips and tricks on this subject!! 🙂

  25. I’m in!!! I have been on an organizing mission the last few weeks and have been putting off getting to my filing cabinet and boxes of prior years bills/receipts that I pack up each year. I really think I am keeping too much “just in case- papers”. I am in the tax industry so I know what financial papers to keep but it’s the household receipts and manuals. I have thought about that neat receipt scanner thing but it’s a big investment and then I am looking at paying for an additional “backup” so I don’t lose that data too. There has got to be a better way, lol!

  26. I’m ready to start! I think my biggest issue is the stuff the kids bring home from school that I don’t want to toss in the recycle bin, but I don’t have a great way to keep it organized yet like a binder… other paperwork is overwhelming too, but I do seem to have a handle on the mail- it’s opened right away, junk mail tossed in the recycling bin, bills put in the file to pay on the next payday, but grade cards from the school are filed in the ‘to organize for kids’ file. I’m looking forward to reading your advice!

  27. I am SO in! My biggest problem is the pile of papers that are things I need to get to; projects I’m working on but can’t complete in an afternoon. They are all on my desk. The best I can do is stack them neatly. I don’t feel like I can put them in a drawer, or I will forget about them. There are always stacks on my desk!

  28. Perfect timing! Thanks for the help! I’m in!

  29. I am soooo in!!! I have piles of papers everywhere – things that have to be scanned, things that have to be put in the spreadsheet for the end of the year, etc.

  30. I use Evernote to organize my digital ideas and I am hoping to move more into a paperless lifestyle. Evernote has an blogger that gives tips on how to move to a paperless lifestyle – Even if you didn’t use Evernote this would help to think through paper that you keep…

  31. I am IN! And I have Evernote but have never figured out how to utilize it effectively!

  32. I struggle with paper in so many ways: school papers that come home with my kids, bills, sentimental stuff (cards and letters). Then there’s my scrapbooking paper, which is it’s own category of crazy….

  33. There are a few things I do that help me tremendously with paper. The first is going digital – I opt for autopay and paperless billing whenever possible. I also sort my mail next to the recycle bin before it comes into the house. I am also a binder junkie. I use binders for almost anything that includes paper. Here is a link to my cabinet above my “command center” and how I use binders.

    Can’t wait to see all your ideas to bust the paper even more!

  34. I’m in. I’m getting better at getting on top of new paper clutter but old paper clutter has been an issue. A recent basement/office flood has helped tackle unfiled paperwork but it’s sad that it took a flood for that to happen. Now I keep a pretty fabric lined basket with pretty file folders placed inside. I sort mail when it comes in and file the rest.

  35. Paper clutter has become my evil best friend. Help me get rid of him! Piles and piles of mail and invoices and information…

  36. OH I am so in!

    I just found your blog today and I am in organizational heaven clicking around and getting checklists and ideas on how to find my house under all our stuff and dust. Consider me an instant fan!

  37. I’m so in! This is one of my biggest struggles. I have thought about doing it digital, but then I get worried about letting go of the paper copies in case a hard drive crashes. Then I have software issues doing it the way I want without spending a fortune. But I need a better way for handling the paperwork in the now!

  38. I am SO in!!!

  39. I am SO in!!!

  40. I would love this! I have unimaginable amounts of paper clutter; documents, quotes, assignments, etc…it’s drowning me. Actually I had a commercial cleaning service in San Francisco come help me out but it came back so easily. I would LOVE your help. Bring on the advice sister!

  41. I’m in! My 2 main areas of struggle are the daily mail & papers my son brings home for Pre-K. I put off dealing with it & then I end up with a mountain of paper to sort.

  42. I am SO in on this. I need help with every type of paper you can imagine – receipts, mail, “to be filed” piles, “will I need this later?” piles.

  43. I would love some advice… I don’t have issues with bills or even the “normal” stuff you file (insurance info/statements, bills, social security paper etc.) because that’s easy you file it. If you need it for the next year (tax returns etc.) you file in a box by year. All the other paper that comes in house I have issues with… The giant pile of coupons and ads to be look through, the stack of scrapbooking planners to do, the pile of old menu plans to keep, all of the art work my three year old creates, calendars, mail, cards!!! And don’t even get me started on my husband’s pile of papers (he’s in the military)… some of them I can’t even begin to figure out. 🙂

  44. I agree with so many of the comments. I’m a teacher so I also have a paper problem at school. My desk is just a huge pile of papers and folders and I can never clean it off or if I can clean it, it only lasts about 30 min. Or less. I await amazing ideas and help from you. Just found you on Pinterest.

  45. Mail is my problem. And organization.

  46. You have incredible timing! Trying to decide what to do with the 6 file boxes and 4 drawer file cabinet full of ‘important’ papers – really trying to downsize, so I’m in!

  47. I’m always battling the pile of paper on my desk, my counter, my dresser…shuffling from one pile to another. It seems like I don’t have a designated block of time to do get to it in, so I never do it! Then I end up wasting time looking for things!

  48. I am in. Kid paper is the worst. The school/teacher send home so many notes not to mention all the actual school work. I have been keeping some and shredding most. (bad idea probably) Also bills once paid! I am alone in this paper fight. No one else cares to help!!

  49. In and pinned!

  50. Im IN!! Biggest clutter-bugs in my house are school work from a 5-year old, “my day” forms from daycare for a 6-month old that I can’t bear to let go of! Bills/statements that I feel like I need to file that just pile up. Medical stuff – explanation of benefits statements that I keep to match up with invoices. Magazines! Oh, and it’s not just from this year! I feel like I’m drowning and overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.

  51. Our biggest problem is definitely school stuff – art work, projects, etc., that are too great not to save.

  52. I’m in! I swear mail multiplies in the middle of the night!

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