Decluttering Cure

How to Sort Through and Get Rid of Your Paper Clutter For Good

published Sep 25, 2022
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Apartment Therapy’s Decluttering Cure is a free two-week decluttering program that’ll help you achieve a tidier home. Sign up here and get all 14 assignments delivered to your inbox.

I have to admit that I am terrible when it comes to decluttering paper. I hold on to everything: coupons, notes, envelopes, receipts — the list goes on. And despite switching to online statements and bills, I still receive mail for seemingly unnecessary things. (No, I don’t need a letter of renewal stating that my policy can be found online… an email would have sufficed.)

It gets pretty bad, to the point where there’s heaps of paper clutter in so many places, like in my junk drawer, the laundry area after emptying pockets, and of course, the office in several locations. Only then, when I’m faced with a mountain of stuff, do I actually do something about it. 

I think I struggle to let go of this type of clutter because I always feel like I might need it someday. For what, I’m not quite sure. But, I’m determined to make a dent in my paper clutter before it gets the chance to become unruly. 

Day 7: Part ways with your paper clutter

Today, identify all the paper piles from around your home and gather them together into one massive pile. If you feel like each area has a big amount already, consider focusing on just one zone. Then, sort it into five main categories:

  • Trash and recycling: Throw out used envelopes, inserts, and bulk mail. For any items with sensitive information, use a shredder, scissors, or your hands to tear them up. Recycle items where possible.
  • Action items: These are things that require you to do something, such as a bill that needs to be paid. These should be accessible — such as in a bin near your workspace or at the entryway — so you know to address them.
  • Short-term: This includes coupons that you want to use but expire in the next few months or something you need to reference soon. Just like the action items, you’ll want to be able to access these items with ease. Consider stashing them in a tray, bin, or paper sorter away from the rest of your paper.
  • Long-term: Items that you need for your records that can be filed away. These should be stored in a safe place. 
  • Leisure reading: Catalogs, magazines, and newsletters should be sorted and placed in an area you like to read in, such as in a magazine holder by the sofa or in the guest bathroom or have it placed on the coffee table.

PRO TIP: Once things are sorted and decluttered, take further action by identifying what can be digitized for the future in order to minimize clutter. Go ahead and cancel those unwanted magazine subscriptions and sign up for e-bills too.

Where did your paper trail lead you? Did you discover where your clutter comes from? Let us know in the comments.

More ways to participate in the Decluttering Cure:

The Cure Program is a tradition here at Apartment Therapy — it happens every January, April, and September. Click here to learn more about the year-round program and when to sign up.