With the advent of the digital age, many people assumed that we would naturally evolve into a paperless world. Nothing could be farther from the truth! As a professional organizer, I bear witness daily to the fact that household paper clutter is a universal problem in our homes.
Almost every organizing client I have worked with struggles with how to manage the constant influx of paper within their home and/or office. It comes at us from all angles…the mailbox, our kids’ backpacks, our shopping bags, and even our desktop printer. Paper clutter creates stress because it represents a plethora of unmade decisions and incomplete tasks that require our time and attention to process.
Image © Depositphotos.com /djarvik
So what what’s a stressed-out paper clutter sufferer to do?
Begin by turning off the faucet.
Imagine trying to drink water out of a fire hydrant…pretty overwhelming, right?
In order to effectively take a drink out of the faucet, you first need to reduce the water flow to something that’s manageable:
The same holds true for paper! The first step in effectively managing your household papers is to reduce what’s coming into your home. The less paper that comes into your home, the less time required to organize and maintain your paper, and the more likely you will be to stay on top of your paper management system. Want to reduce the paper “gush” to a more manageable “drip”? Here’s what you can do.
10 TIPS FOR REDUCING HOUSEHOLD PAPER CLUTTER
- Cancel subscriptions for newspapers/magazines/newsletters that you never read (research whether these periodicals are available online).
- Politely decline flyers and handouts offered by vendors/sales people (tell them your family is “going paperless”).
- Avoid printing documents that can be accessed online.
- Sign up to receive paperless bills/financial statements and take advantage of online bill pay services whenever possible.
- Call your credit card companies and ask that your name and address not be sold to other companies.
- Contact magazines/catalogs that you subscribe to and ask that your name and address not be sold to other companies.
- When you donate money to a charity or order a product/service, ask that your name and address not be sold to other companies.
- Don’t fill out warranty cards – they are a way to collect addresses for mailing lists. Your warranty is valid without submitting your information.
- Avoid entering sweepstakes or contests. They are a way to collect addresses for mailing lists.
- Take advantage of “Unsubscribe” resources devoted to reducing junk mail, including:
Dmachoice.org – Remove your name from the Direct Marketing Association’s marketing lists (represents approximately 80% of total U.S. marketing mailings)
Catalogchoice.org – Selectively choose the catalogs that you want to receive, as well as your preference for how frequently you receive catalogs
OptOutPrescreen.com – Opt out of credit card and insurance offers
Paper Karma app – Use this app to take a photo of unwanted mail and the app automatically contacts the sender and requests to them to remove you from their distribution list
Systematically implementing each of these “unsubscribe” processes will require a bit of time and effort up front, but doing so will result in significantly less paper (and less stress) in your life!
Want more paper decluttering tips? Check out this collection of paper organization and decluttering posts!