By Winnie Yu
If you're like me, you live in a house full of paper.
Newspapers and coupons pile up in my kitchen. Magazines are stacked in my office and at my bedside. Random pieces of paper cover my desk and kitchen counter.
To make matters worse, I like to write little notes for myself. So strewn about my desk and kitchen counter are small scraps of paper. Call this person. Get this at the store. Do this later.
While it seems simple, controlling the influx of paper -- everything from receipts to poster projects -- takes some effort. So here's what I do:
1. Give every piece of paper a home.
All my work documents are stashed in folders. Those I'm working on at the moment are stacked on my desk. The rest go in my file cabinet. The kids' homework and school documents go in white baskets on the shelf in the mudroom. Coupons get filed away in a coupon holder. Grocery receipts are stashed inside a drawer in the kitchen; other receipts go in a drawer in my office. You get the idea.
2. File it away as soon as possible.
To stop the buildup, I try to pay attention to the papers as they pile up. Ideally, I file them away as soon as possible. But sometimes, I devote an hour to really putting them away.
3. Toss, toss, toss.
Every day, I try to gather up the junk mail and newspapers and throw them in the recycling bin outside. That's the best method of cleaning up the mess that tends to accumulate in my kitchen.
4. Store magazines in proper places.
I keep a magazine holder in my office, the library and the upstairs bathroom. Every once in a while, when the pile gets too big, they get a major purge, which gives me room to store the incoming magazines.
5. Stop using so much paper.
I used to take notes on notepads. These days, I try to do it on a computer. Sometimes, I jot notes on my iPhone. By using less paper, you can significantly reduce the buildup of old notebooks and cut down on the little scraps that lie around (though they're still around, trust me).
Taking steps to control paper definitely helps reduce the clutter in my house. It also helps me stay organized, and gives me some much-needed peace of mind.