5 Minutes to Less Paper Clutter

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Like library due dates and teenage hearts, New Year’s Resolutions were made to be broken. But it does not have to be so. I recently read an article that recommended setting small, measurable resolutions as opposed to broad ones. For example, instead of saying you’ll lose weight, resolve to eat one salad per day. Instead of hoping to stress less, meditate for five minutes every morning. Instead of resolving to save the world, save just one cat stuck in a tree each week. See? Much easier, don’t you think?

This small, measurable strategy applies especially well to the common New Year’s resolution of getting organized. So this January, I’m going to blog about small, five-minutes-or-less organizing projects that you can complete in the time it takes to update your Twitter feed.

My first project? Paper clutter!

I have yet to meet a client who does not struggle with paper clutter. Of all the clutter types, this is perhaps the most insidious, because it does not stop. With a little willpower, you can pretty easily avoid buying new clothes or knick-knacks, but you cannot stop paper from entering your home. So, if you have piles of paper, here are some 5-minutes or less solutions for you:

Ditch all your owner’s manuals. Yes, all of them. There is not a single owner’s manual you have in your home right now that cannot be found online. Don’t believe me? Google search for any owner’s manual you currently have. You’ll find it. Heck, this past Thanksgiving we even found the online owner’s manual for the vintage 1950’s pink wall oven in my parents new home (which, by the way, is fabulous, but not when cooking a 20-pound turkey. Some free advice: if you ever need to cook a very large turkey in an oven made before the time of super-sizing, just double the cooking time. Otherwise you’ll be eating Thanksgiving dinner at 9:00pm. Still delicious, but not quite what you expected.)

You don’t need these guys….

Ditch any magazines not published in the current month. If you didn’t read it during the month it arrived, you are probably not going to read it. And if you are a subscriber, you have the current month’s issue anyway. Read that. And if you don’t, do some serious thinking about whether or not you need this magazine subscription… to quote someone awesome (Henry David Thoreau), “Our lives are frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” One way to simplify your life is to do your darndest to only allow the paper you want to enter it. My only exception to this magazine rule is for the most important reading room in the house. You know where it is. Keep an outdated issue or two there. It’s good company during some personal time.

See Dad? You really did teach me some important life lessons.

Toss receipts. My husband leaves a Hansel-and-Gretel-like trail of receipts around the house, which I am constantly tossing in his wake. But, of course, it’s a good idea to keep some receipts. I keep a receipt file for big-ticket items, gifts, and any other items I may need to return in the event of their crappiness (think kids’ clothes, new tools, etc.), but whenever I add a receipt to this file, I toss one. The one in, one out rule is a good way to keep receipt clutter under control. (As well as any other clutter, by the way!)

So there you go! Five minutes to less paper clutter starts now… you’re on the clock… Ready? Set! Go!

Rose Lounsbury is the Dayton, Ohio area’s up-and-coming professional organizer. After blogging about her own journey toward a minimalist lifestyle, Rose was inspired to start Less, a minimalist-minded professional organizing company. If you’d like Rose’s help with an organizing project at your home or office, please call her at 937-626-9030.


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