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Organizing Paper Clutter: Part One

Organize Paper Clutter: Part One by Our Simple Nest

You may not have this life-issue, but most of the time most of my clutter consists of paper and paper related things. Between junk mail, magazines and books I haven’t read yet, receipts from every-store-I-have-ever-been-to-in-the-last-decade, flyers and notices for things I might care about, and a general plethora of paper in my apartment I just cannot keep track of it all. I am done dealing with paper. So much so, that if I had a fireplace, I’d be tempted to torch it. Instead, I’ll be calm and organize the crap out of it. Care to join me?

Our approach to tackling paper clutter has three parts; today I will share part one. (Subscribe to Our Simple Nest to receive parts two and three in your inbox!)

The best way to win a fight is to avoid it altogether, and the first step to winning the war against paper clutter is by avoidance. Stopping clutter before it even enters in your front door means one less piece of paper you have to deal with; a winning strategy my friends. Here are six ways to avoid paper clutter in the first place.

1) Opt-out of pre-approved credit offers and marketing notices.
This simple trick will permanently reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. By opting-out your name and private information will no longer be shared by the credit bureaus with marketing companies (they are already sharing it, you have to tell them to stop) meaning you won’t receive anymore “firm offers” of credit in your mailbox. Along with helping you avoid clutter, this will also help reduce your risk of identity theft, and help you avoid debt. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act consumers may choose to eliminate their names from mailing lists for firm offers of credit by visiting optoutprescreen.com to quickly remove your name from the marketing lists.

2) Unsubscribe from magazines and catalogs you never (or hardly ever) read.
There have been times (like right this minute, for example) that I receive the newest edition of Marie Claire before I even scan the cover of last month’s issue (or the last six months if I’m being honest.) Life is just too busy to keep up with reading everything I subscribe to. (Plus who wants to read something with Miley Cyrus on the cover? *gags*) Next time that subscription renewal notice arrives, don’t. Better yet, call and cancel it now; most publishers will refund the rest of your subscription. Alternatively, switch to a digital membership. You will still have access to the best fall fashion advice but you won’t have all that clutter. Eliminate catalogs and other junk mail by visiting catalogchoice.org to remove yourself from their mailing lists as well.

3) Choose to receive your billing and bank statements online.
Almost every business everywhere offers e-statements. Another way to cut your risk of identity theft, you can also reduce your clutter by having bank, credit card, rent and mortgage, utility, and other statements emailed to you instead of receiving a snail-mail paper copy. There are fewer envelopes to open and less paperwork to keep track of, and practically all banks provide online bill pay so you don’t have to fuss with mailing a check. Most e-statements are stored online by the company that issued them, but you can always download the statements to your computer for tax purposes. Do everything digitally so you can cut the clutter.

4) Decline receipts or have them emailed to you.
Old Navy is just one of the many retailers who will give you either a paper receipt or an emailed one. Both are valid receipts, but the emailed one is best for avoiding clutter. Chase, along with many other banks, give you the option of declining a receipt entirely, a choice I often make. The less of my private information floating around in the world the better I feel, and I can instantly view my transactions on my phone so I don’t need a receipt. If you can choose, I suggest avoiding receipts when possible (the exception being for business records and we will cover that in the next two posts.)

5) Don’t print it out when you can save it digitally.
When I was younger I would print everything. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Now that I am wise to the war on paper clutter, I rarely print anything anymore. I have folders organized in my browser bookmarks for things I want to read online. Pinterest keeps track of inspiring recipes and photos of rooms I want to mimic. I handle group collaborations and blog projects with Dropbox. (Receive extra Dropbox storage space for free! Use this referral link and download Dropbox to your computer and phone.) thisLife by Shutterfly manages and stores my photo and video memorabilia. I save receipts and e-statements I receive as PDFs and organize them into folders on my desktop. And I keep everything backed up to iCloud so I never have to fret about losing it all. Find digital solutions that work for you instead of printing everything out. It will save you money on ink and paper, and once again you will have avoided paper clutter chaos.

6) Don’t buy it when you can borrow it.
Recently Ryan and I needed two different books for two different classes we are participating in at church and, instead of rushing out and buying them (like my broke former self would have done,) I looked up the records at the library and requested the titles. We have what we need for the classes, but I have fewer books to house later on. Whenever you “need” a book or magazine see if you can borrow it first before you commit your time, dollars, and space to owning it. The library may have what you need, or you can hit up your 352 closest friends on Facebook to see if someone is willing to lend it out to you. All finished reading? instead of finding someplace to put it, you get to return it and avoid long-term clutter.

Now you have the tools you need to avoid paper clutter like it is the mystery macaroni at the church potluck. Good luck! And stay tuned, in part two we will go over how to quickly reduce the amount of paper cluttering your home.

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