Weekend Projects

The Number One Clutter Problem, According to Our Readers

published Feb 15, 2019
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(Image credit: Federico Paul)

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

As Apartment Therapy’s cleaning editor, my number one job is to help our readers take care of their spaces. It has been so fun connecting with all of you during our group projects (like the January Cure) and on Instagram (I’m always here for questions!). And if you chimed in last week to share your ideas for our Weekend Projects series—thank you! You all had such amazing ideas and I can’t wait to help you work on them.

Far and away, when I ask readers what they need help with at home, it’s dealing with clutter. And the number one clutter problem? Paper. Your bills and memos and invoices and mailers.

It’s challenging to sort through all the stuff, and to be able to diagnose what’s worth keeping and what you can let go of. So let’s not waste any more time, and take the weekend to get a start on dealing with our paper piles…

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Federico Paul)

This Weekend: Sort through your paper clutter

Whether you have just a few recently-collected piles or a backload of unsorted paper stuffed in a drawer somewhere, the process is the same. Gather everything up, and sort through it all one by one.

Depending on what’s in your stack, here are the piles you might need:

  • Recycle/Trash
  • Shred
  • File
  • Action Items
  • “Other”

With your recycling, trash, and shred piles, you know what to do.

The “file” pile is for important documents you need to keep for your records. When you’re through with your whole stack, take the time to file it away, right away. Here’s a handy graphic (and post) that will help you know how long you need to keep things:

(Image credit: Kath Nash)

The “action” pile is things that need some sort of effort from you—like notes that need replies, bills that need to be paid, or magazines you’d like to read. Go ahead and move those things to wherever they need to be so you can handle them (like bills in your work bag, and magazines on the nightstand or by your reading chair).

The “other” pile is a catchall for anything you want to keep that doesn’t seem to need filing or doing. This pile is fairly unique to you, so you’ll have to decide what to do with it. If they’re references or inspiration, maybe you can designate a box or binder for them. If it’s a “just in case” item like coupons, maybe you want to stash that with your wallet or inside your car so it’s there when you need it.

You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.