paper piles sorted with labels

Paper Clutter and How To Maintain It

February 8, 2021

Do you feel like your paper clutter is a reoccurring battle? Does the incoming paperwork just continue to pile up and accumulate? Maybe last month you went through a hefty stack of paper and whittled it down. This month you see it has grown just as high, if not higher! We get it, and we have a couple of helpful tips for you.

Paperwork Requires Maintenance

Just like groceries need to be routinely selected, ordered, and purchased, for you to continually have groceries in your home, so your paperwork is an ongoing process if you do not want to continue having big piles that feel out of control. Once you accept this fact about paperwork, it becomes much easier to fight the piles and keep a paperwork system flowing.


When paper comes into your home, whether that be bills, cards, magazines, flyers, or kids’ artwork, resist the temptation to place it on the kitchen counter, a coffee table, or the desk! Instead, quickly decide which of the three categories it fits into: “Trash”, “To File”, or “Action”. We recommend assigning two containers for the “To File”, and the “Action” piles. These magazine holders definitely do the job!


If you know you do not need it, throw it straight into the trash-right then and there! If you are comfortable, we recommend accessing all bills and accounts online. You will be able to have documents come to you through email instead of through the mail. If you are then able to access all the documents online, then you can proactively trash all the unnecessary documents mailed to you.

To File

If you opened up a piece of mail or your child brought home a drawing that you want to store in their keepsake bin, place these pieces of paper in the “To File” container. You will be going through the “To File” container weekly and setting aside time to file or put away every piece of paper in the container. If you are looking for some guidance in creating a filing system or sprucing up your current filing system, this blog post has a list of helpful folder categories to assist you with your filing system.


This container will have the most paperwork and will also require continuous maintenance. Every piece of paper that requires you to do something will find a temporary home here. Just remember, you will be setting aside time each week to do whatever action is connected with each piece of paper here in order to clear out this container.

Weekly Maintenance

Set a calendar appointment and an additional reminder or two on the same day every week to go through the paperwork in the “To File” and “Action” piles. The containers should be emptied every week! Setting aside this time every week and either doing the action required of filing the paperwork is a habit that may take a little bit of time to get accustomed to, but once you get in the habit, your reoccurring battle with piles of paperwork will be a thing of the past!

How is the paperwork maintenance cycle at your home? Any tips or tricks you have to share with us about how you keep paper in your home from turning into reoccurring clutter? We always love to hear from you!