The amount of paper we all collect and end up storing can really take up a lot of physical and emotional space in our lives. Fortunately, there are many traditional and digital solutions that can help us streamline and simplify our paper interactions.

The process of eliminating and reducing paper to help keep your home more organized begins with purging the papers you don’t need.

Start by getting three large boxes or bins and label them as:

1 Recycle

2 Shred and Recycle

3 Keep

Then gather every bit of paper in your house. Magazines, flyers, bills, bank statements, old menus, tax documents, etc. You’ll begin to sort them into their appropriate bins.

1) Recycling

Put a recycling bag or bin near your front door. Before you even bring mail into the house, pause by your front door to toss everything you know you don’t need — like flyers, advertisements, coupons, and junk mail.

You can unsubscribe from paper magazines and newspapers and get most of them online. In fact, the Calgary Public Library has free services such as Press Reader and Flipster that gives you access to online newspapers and magazines from around the world.

2) Shred and recycle

This bin is for documents that you are purging that contain your personal information such as name, address, phone number, social insurance number. If you don’t have a shredder, you can purchase a high quality shredder or for really big shredding jobs you can get a paper shredding company to come to your home.

3) Keep

Tax returns, medical files, insurance papers, and leases into a pile to be scanned onto your computer for safekeeping.

Photos can go into an album, you can frame them, or hang them on a cork board so you can enjoy them every day.

Other tips for dealing with papers and keeping your home organized like a professional

Go paperless with bank statements and bills

All regular bills such as for phone, Internet, cable TV, and banking can be sent to you via email. This immediately reduces the paper clutter in your home.

Transfer everything online. Most banks and major utility companies offer the choice to stop receiving statements and notifications in the mail .

You can also eliminate having to send hand-written cheques, which further reduces paper because you don’t need to envelopes and stamps. Bills can be paid online with credit cards or by bank etransfer.

Create a filing system

There are so many different types of filing systems, but the best ones have the following features: they are logically organized, easy to access, and spacious enough or expandable to take in new documents as required.

Consider your available space before you buy new filing equipment. If you have open desk drawers, metal file rails work great. If you have tons of closet space, go for portable file bins.

If you prefer to keep your files in plain sight, then a desk organizer is a good solution.

Next, stock up on file folders and separate everything into categories. Make sure you cover all the topics (pet, home, medical, work, etc.) and be as specific as possible with your labels.

You can give big categories like “Finances” their own folders with additional files for specific types of documents like “Tax Returns” or “Bills.”

Create a “Take Action” station for papers that need to be dealt with

Designate one convenient spot in your home for all those papers that require action. This might include forms to be signed, letters to send, RSVP cards to be mailed. You could stack these papers in a mail organizer on your entryway table, or place them in a shallow tray on your desk. Whatever works best for you.

schedule a regular time each week to focus on these papers and clear this space.

Store important receipts in a binder

All your receipts can be organized in a small binder. Make sure you store the binder in a convenient place so you can easily add new receipts to it on a regular basis.

Use a calendar

You don’t need to save papers such as event flyers or invitations if you have a calendar where you can record all your upcoming activities.

A digital calendar such as the one in Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook is great, but a desk or wall calendar may be preferred if you want to see your schedule without having to unlock your phone. Whenever you receive a new piece of paper that details an upcoming event, just transfer the information to your calendar and recycle the paper.

Store your paper items in the right places

The key to using and enjoying your stuff on a regular basis is to store it in a place that makes sense. Here are three simple and highly-effective ideas:

Keep the paper items you use every day in plain sight. Put new magazines on your coffee table, stationery on your desk, and so on.

Store sentimental items like cards, school papers, and souvenirs in pretty boxes or baskets to display on bookcases and shelves. You’re more likely to look through your mementos every now and then if they’re not tucked away in a closet.

Keep all your craft and office-related paper goods (like extra printer paper, notebooks, and sticky notes) in the same area.

Get help from a professional oganizer

Renaissance Lifestyles is a professional organizer that is fully equipped with the storage solutions and decluttering techniques to devise a decluttering and organizing plan that works for you. We treat you as an individual and take a customized approach that best matches your personality, lifestyle, timeline and goals. We are also committed to ensuring a stress-free experience for you. Let us help you make your life easier so that going forward you spend less time managing your possessions and more time enjoying your life.

Decluttering and Organizing Your Paper – advice from a Professional Organizer