Tuesday, April 10, 2012

{Life Well Lived} So long, Clutter!

I do not like clutter. Piles of paper on the kitchen counter drive me nuts. I don't understand why people won't carry their belonging up the stairs if I put them on the bottom step for them. And I like my email inbox to stay cleaned out.

I do like shelves, closets, filing cabinets, digital folders, the paper recycling bin, and scrapbooks.

So when I saw the prompt: How do you organize paperwork both online and off? Share your tip(s) to managing physical and digital clutter! in my inbox, I had no trouble thinking of a few tips to share. Your counters will thank me.
  • Touch the papers once. Papers may mean the mail, the kids' papers from their backpacks, or anything your husband brings through the door and right to the counter. If it's trash, toss it in the recycling bin. If it needs to go to the office, take it to the desk. If it needs to be signed and returned somewhere, put it by your purse. You get the point. Look at it. Decide where it needs to go. And put it there.
  • Don't try to save every piece of artwork your child brings home. My daughter is only in preschool. And yet saving every ABC practice sheet, counting worksheet, and cute stick people drawing she brings home isn't going to happen. Some pieces of art work make it onto the fridge and then end up in a binder full of 8 1/2-by-11 page protectors that I plan to keep for her. Others just go to the recycling bin. 
  • Recycle. I keep a plastic tub in my laundry room, which is right off the kitchen, that allows easy access for the junk mail and other unnecessary pieces of paper that clutter my counters and my life.
  • Create a photo/documents filing system on your computer. It took me some trial and error to figure out what I liked best, but I file my photos {and I take many photos ...} by month. If I take several photos of one event, I'll create a photo for that event within the monthly folder. All the monthly folders are stored in a folder labeled by year. This entire system is backed up on the external hard drive and also burned onto DVD at the end of the year. I also have a folder called "To Print" where I save copies of any photos I want to print. Then they're all together when I see a good deal from Snapfish or Shutterfly. Likewise, in "My Documents" I have folders for areas of my life that will produce multiple documents. Other documents are saved loose in "My Documents." And when I'm done with them and don't expect to reopen them {say, my daughter's party invitation that has been printed and handed out to friends} I move them to a "USED" folder. 
  • Buy a filing cabinet. Yes, it's a tad nerdy, but it's so practical. You can have folders in there for insurance, medical information, and whatever other papers you may need to locate at some point in the future. My husband has a mostly paperless filing system at his office, thanks to a speedy scanner. Truthfully, I'd like for that to happen at home at some point.
  • Use labels on your emails. I love Gmail. The label system in there works great for me to keep my inbox from being cluttered with emails I may not need. But it's so easy to store them, so why would I want to delete them all? I also like the priority inbox feature that organizes my messages into unread, starred, and then everything else. It's visually organized and practical. Go, Gmail!
Visit Blogher.com for more tips on how to rid your life of clutter. You can even enter a sweepstakes while you're there.

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  1. I do all the same things! Sometimes I backslide on the touch it once rule, but I try really hard to keep up. Must be so similar because of OC. ;)

  2. All for the filing cabinet. We've had one for over 5 years and use it weekly to file all the papers we don't want to throw out. I too can't stand paper clutter but some how it always follows me!

  3. I don't know how my parents have survived all these years without a file cabinet.


  4. I'm so nerdy I even like reading about organizing. Fun post! Do you know on gmail if there is a way to sort my inbox by sender? I know I can search all the folders, but that isn't really what I want. My inbox is so full and I tend to clean it up easier if I can do it by sender.