Do you struggle to keep your paperwork organized? Paper clutter is an issue for many people. Papers can pile up and become a real problem. There are some simple steps you can take to keep your paper clutter under control.

Here are 6 paper clutter solutions to help you get rid of paper clutter fast and reduce the amount of mail for storage and sorting that is now coming into your home.

  1. Sort Papers into 3 Categories
  2. Get electronic bills and paperless statement
  3. Try Paper Karma
  4. Save time shredding
  5. Opt-out of solicitations using a service
  6. Opt-out of solicitations manually

A couple of tools that you’re going to want to have handy are a letter opener, a utility knife, or a box cutter to open packages. I also like using sticky notes for sorting papers into categories.

#1 Sort paper in to 3 basic categories (File, Action, Toss)

Before we get started, I want you to keep in mind that there’s really only three things that you can do with papers when you’re opening your mail. This is based on Barbara Hemphill’s FAT system, F stands for Filing, A stands for Action, and T stands for Toss.

Organizing Paper @ Home: What to Toss and How to Find the Rest
  • Hemphill, Barbara (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 03/15/2016 (Publication Date) - (Publisher)

Use a sticky note to label the papers with the action. Example – “call to schedule,” “call to dispute,” or “research online.” But honestly, most papers will go into the “T” or trash category. You can break that pile down smaller into a shred pile, recycle, and then actual trash that goes into the landfill.

The “F” or filing category is always my smallest pile.  These are items to keep for later reference, like medical records, legal documents, and financial reports. I prefer to scan documents rather than create paper files, so all my paper files fit into one file drawer.

#2 Get electronic bills and paperless statements.

There are two basic things you can do to get electronic bills and statements.

The first is to simply ask companies if they offer it. Review your paper bill or statement and look for words like – “reduce paper clutter” or “sign up online.” Once you find the website link, go online, create a password and login, then follow instructions to receive only electronic statements to your email inbox.  

The second is to download statements from the vendor’s website. You can usually download pdf files of bills and statements to your device or directly to the Cloud (ex. Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive). This way you have access to the information even if you switch vendors or the provider only has your records available for a short time.

#3 Try Paper Karma

You can eliminate junk mail by using an app called Paper Karma. This is an app you have on your phone, and it’s really easy to use. And what you do is when you get a piece of unsolicited junk mail, you take a picture with your phone and Paper Karma will contact the merchant and ask to have your address removed from their lists.

There is a small fee to use Paper Karma (about $25 per year at the time of this writing). If you’re getting a stack of paper delivered to your home each week, this is an inexpensive investment to get your time back.

Simply snap a picture of your unwanted mail and press “Unsubscribe” to remove yourself from one of our partners’ marketing lists. That’s it – just snap your unwanted mail away! In about 24 hours you’ll receive a notification that you’ve been unsubscribed.

#4 Save on Shredding time with an identity thief stamp

Shredding takes time. Commercial shredding cost money. I want to give you a quick tip about shredding and what to shred and what not to shred.

I always shred paper with social security or financial account numbers. And something that I’ve noticed that some of my customers do is they want to take their address off all of the mail because they don’t want their address associated with the mail.

This is very time consuming. If you want to do this to protect your privacy, I want to show you a much faster way to remove or “black out” this information.  

Get an identity theft stamp. You can look it up on Amazon or get one from your local office supply store like Staples, and it will black out the information on your mail. It’s a really quick way to blackout any personal information.

#5 Opt out of solicitations before they become junk mail

You can reduce junk mail before it arrives in your mailbox.

Every year, the three credit bureaus send millions of offers for credit cards and insurance to people who haven’t asked for.

The Consumer Credit Reporting Industry has an Opt-Out Program. Registering with this program will stop receiving credit cards and insurance offers

Register online or call 1-888-567-8688 to opt-out for five years. You must register online if you want to opt-out out of these offers permanently.

#6 Manually Opt-out

I’ve been monitoring my paper waste for years, in the hopes of reducing it. So when the odd catalog or unrequested magazine shows up in my mail box I spring in to action!

I look for a phone number. The contact information is usually published on the first few pages or the index page. This is the number you need to call and request to be removed from the vendors mailing list.

They may give you some song and dance about it taking a few months or that you need to call another publisher’s number. The manual approach may seem tedious but eliminating paper clutter and junk mail is worth the effort.

Organizing expert + Certified KonMari Consultant Katherine Lawrence helps over-committed and overwhelmed people get control of their clutter. Sign up for a FREE Organizing Q&A Call with Katherine.

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