10 Steps to Reduce Paper Clutter

reduce paper clutter

Let’s talk about how to reduce paper clutter.

With the wide variety of paper that comes into your home every day, you need individual systems (a defined way) to deal with each kind of paper. Having a system will make it easier to determine what is necessary to keep and what should go.

10 steps to reduce all kinds of paper clutter.

1. Stop the junk mail and catalogs by signing up for Catalog Choice to remove yourself from mailing lists.

2. Manage your magazines from coming into your home by canceling subscriptions that you don’t read consistently. Rip out the articles that interest you and file them in categories in folders to eliminate the bulk of the magazines.

3. After reconciling your bank and credit card statements shred all receipts, except for large purchases, business expenses, and items under warranty. These need to be filed.

4. Post only needed paper on your bulletin board. This is where less is more. You’ll be able to see what you need without the clutter of unwanted or old paper.

5. Simplify your library by trading or giving away duplicate books. Consider purchasing an e-reader for future reading, so you don’t add to your collection.

6.. Manage business cards by scanning them into a contact management software program or organize them into a notebook made specifically for business cards.

7. Only keep your kid’s artwork that is display-worthy. Keep everything together in one box and take photos of the 3D projects that you want to keep as a memory.

8. Gather your new greeting cards into categories and store them in a card organizer. Evaluate the sentimental cards you have received and only keep the ones with a high value to you.

9. Keep coupons in an organizer that will allow you to use them. If you find that you are not taking them shopping with you, stop the practice of clipping them.

10. Curtail your printing. Save digital copies of bills, statements, and other documents on your computer or in the cloud instead of printing them.

With the wide variety of paper that comes into your home every day, you need individual systems (a defined way) to deal with each kind of paper. Click To Tweet
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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Gina Weatherup on August 30, 2021 at 8:14 am

    Great tips! I don’t have a bulletin board, but I have an organizer on my desk that I go through about once a year. The front section I review more frequently, because that’s an “action” area. For coupons, I was keeping them under a clip on my fridge until I realized that I was throwing out expired coupons more than I was using them – I’ve since stopped collecting them. I love that my grocery store has digital coupons!

    • Janet Schiesl on August 30, 2021 at 7:50 pm

      Gina, I used to clip coupons but found it not worth my time. I wasn’t finding many that I’d use, so decide that my time looking for the saving was worth more.

  2. Seana Turner on August 30, 2021 at 10:51 am

    With regards to #8, I’ve been surprised to see how many people hold onto old holiday cards they’ve received. If you keep all the cards you get, in a couple of years, this can take up a significant amount of space! I only keep the cards with a lengthy, handwritten note. If it just say, “Love Mom,” I’m good to let that go.

    • Janet Schiesl on August 30, 2021 at 7:42 pm

      Sentimental people love cards, but the mean is still there even if you don’t keep the card. I display cards for a few days on my refrigerator and then let them go.

  3. Lisa Gessert on August 30, 2021 at 11:01 am

    excellent step by step Janet! Sometimes we just need the directions..like putting a piece of furniture together sometimes next steps are just necessary! Great blog!

    • Janet Schiesl on August 30, 2021 at 7:40 pm

      Thanks Lisa. I think people can follow one or two of these tips for great results.

  4. Sabrina Quairoli on August 30, 2021 at 11:28 am

    Great tips! I have a folder filing system set up by month (Jan-Feb, Mar-Apr, etc..) in my command center cabinet to hold only papers for upcoming events. When the event is over, the paper is shredded. So, these folders are pretty much empty unless an event or activity is coming up. It helps eliminate the paper clutter on the kitchen counter and allows us to find important papers easily.

    • Janet Schiesl on August 30, 2021 at 7:36 pm

      Sounds like a good system. Simple and effective and you don’t lose paper that is needed in the short term.

  5. Linda Samuels on August 30, 2021 at 11:53 am

    That is SO much paper in that top photograph! Thank goodness that these days we receive less and less paper. There is less mail. More bills are handled electronically, and no school-age kids are living at home. I’m working on letting go of filed papers. Because you know how it goes- we only reference 20% of the papers we file. So why am I keeping that other 80%? #6 stood out to me. I have a mini (adorable) 2-drawer filing cabinet that houses all of the business cards I’ve collected over the years. Do I ever look at those cards? I can’t remember the last time I did—anyone I want to get in touch with “lives” in my digital address book. I used to keep them because I was paper-based. But I also liked to look at them from a design perspective. You inspired me to give that mini cabinet a look. It might be the next thing up on my “edit & release some stuff” plan. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Janet Schiesl on August 30, 2021 at 7:34 pm

      I got rid of business cards a while ago. I use an app called CardCam to save a photo of the needed cards and all important information. Much easier.

  6. Phaedra Studt on August 30, 2021 at 2:23 pm

    I also signed up for DMAChoice.org (I think it cost $2 USD) and have seen the amount of unwanted catalogs be greatly reduced! For the ones that do make it through, they get filed directly into the recycling bin. 😉

    • Janet Schiesl on August 30, 2021 at 7:31 pm

      I sign up every year for DMAChoice. I stack up all the catalogs I get before the holidays and then use them as my guide to get off catalog mailing lists.

  7. Sheri Steed on August 30, 2021 at 5:42 pm

    Very practical tips. When combined, this is a surefire way to defeat paper clutter.

  8. Julie Bestry on September 2, 2021 at 1:52 am

    I’m all about paper organizing, so I loved these essential tips! I can’t remember the last time I received a business card, but I haven’t kept one in a long time. #4 reminds of when I used to have a bulletin board in my office in my old career. I never put anything up that was time sensitive, because I knew it would all become like wall-paper. Instead, I posted cartoons. Anything worth keeping to trigger some kind of action needs to go into a tickler file! But yes, as you note, if you’re going to keep a bulletin board, keep it lean!

    • Janet Schiesl on September 2, 2021 at 7:50 am

      I used to do a lot of networking and had a lot of business cards. Now when I get a business card, I’ll evaluate whether I want to keep the information. If so, I load it into the CamCard app and toss the card. Kind of seems like a waste of paper.
      I don’t have a bulletin board anymore but regularly clean off any areas where I “keep stuff”.

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