Inside: Paper is one of the most difficult decluttering categories, and for good reason! It comes at us from every angle, so one of the best things you can do to maintain a decluttered home is to learn how to reduce paper clutter in the first place.
This is a guest post by Brooke from Happy Simple Mom.
Paper clutter is what can send my decluttering efforts over the edge some days! No matter how much I used to clean, it seemed paper clutter was the one mess I could never stay caught up on week after week.
It was driving me crazy, and I was determined to find a way to reduce paper clutter in my home once and for all.
You know the problem:
Mail piles up on the kitchen counters.
Magazines piles start to take over coffee tables and bathroom baskets.
Junk mail consumes your mailbox, and a filing system seems laughable given the sheer amount of paper clutter you have to deal with on a regular basis.
There is only one guaranteed fix to reducing your paper clutter. STOP THE INFLOW!
OK, stopping the inflow of paper clutter is easily said. How easy is it to actually do?
Can you really stop all that junk mail? Is there a way to really organize it all in a manageable way? Yes!
Reducing all of your paper clutter doesn’t happen overnight. However, I will walk you through how to reduce paper clutter and get yourself set up for success in a shorter period of time than you think.
How to Reduce Paper Clutter
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1. Stop the inflow of paper bills.
Paper bills are a thing of the past. You no longer need to get them every month and file them away in a filing cabinet or pile them up on your kitchen counter.
With email and electronic accounts, everything you need to know about your bills are right there on the company’s website.
Create yourself a spreadsheet or written document listing out all of your billing accounts. List the website log-in page, your user name and your password (or a password hint).
Go to each billing account and sign up for paperless billing. They will still email you your bill every month, and you can access the account at any time to see your usage or other account details.
If you can, sign up for electronic billing as well. This is one less thing you have to do every month. If you don’t want automatic payments, you can still elect for automatic reminders for most of your billing accounts.
2. Sign up for paperless statements with your banks.
Just like you did for your utility companies and other billing accounts, add your banks to a spreadsheet or written document. List out the website log-in page, user name, and your password (or a password hint). I also like to list out my account numbers and routing numbers.
Sign in to each bank, and elect for paperless statements on all your accounts. You usually have to do this for each account type. Some banks will even waive monthly maintenance fees if you sign up for paperless statements.
Do this for checking accounts, savings accounts, 401k accounts, etc. Do the same thing with your credit card statements each month.
3. Stop all junk mail.
I love going to my mailbox now. The only mail we get is mail we want to get, or at least expect to be getting. Getting rid of junk mail will make an immediate difference on the piles of paper around your home, and it is fairly easy to do.
To get rid of junk mail, go to dmachoice.org. It tells marketers you have opted out of their marketing flyers and mailings. You will see a noticeable difference in thirty days.
4. Stop all credit card offers.
How often do you see one of those credit card offers in your junk mail, and think, “oh yes, I need this!”? Yeah, I didn’t think so! Me either.
Credit card companies are constantly looking to market their new offers to you. They love people who love debt! Don’t fall into their traps and clean out your mailbox at the same time.
Just like junk mail, it is super easy to stop the onslaught of credit card offers. Go to OptOutPrescreen.com. You will have to enter your social security number, but these companies already have it. That’s how they are sending you offers!
I saw on my most recent credit report the “opt-out” notice in one of the informational boxes. Therefore, the big credit companies are getting notice by filling out the online form. It works!
Before opting out, we were getting one to two offers a day. That’s a lot of unread, wasted paper!
5. Opt out of any marketing offers by mail.
You know when you sign up for a new magazine, product, or order something, you all of a sudden start getting every product magazine or flyer that company makes? They do this because you opted in, without realizing it, as some point. It could be that you bought something, signed up for a contest, or filled out a form at a business. They are sneaky.
Anytime you make a purchase or fill out a form, read the fine print. There is usually an opt-out form you can check. It doesn’t mean they will always listen, but it is worth a try! If you give your address, make sure they know you don’t want their marketing materials.
I’ve gone as far as to write on a form when someone asks for my address, “I opt-out of any mailings.” If they won’t give me a box, I’ll state it clear as day. It works!
6. Stop the inflow of magazines and newspapers.
Magazines and newspapers have dramatically decreased in the past few years because the digital age is so popular. It is time to jump on the bandwagon!
If you are dead set on still getting magazines, limit them. For example, limit it to no more than one or two subscriptions.
I like magazines. I won’t lie.
I get two subscriptions each month. My kids get one subscription each month. My husband doesn’t really care.
If you are an avid reader of magazines, sign up for magazines digitally. Many of them offer digital versions now.
The same goes for newspapers. Many newspapers allow for a digital subscription now. Take your news with you wherever you go!
If you insist on getting the newspaper for coupons, reduce your subscription to just Sundays. (However, many grocery stores now offer digital coupons through their apps. Take advantage of those offers!)
7. Stop getting random mail you don’t want.
Finally, if you are trying to reduce paper clutter, start paying attention to the mail that comes in every day. If it doesn’t fall into one of the above categories and action hasn’t been taken yet, search the back of the mailing for the fine print.
Call the company or go online to their website, and opt-out of any future mailings. It sometimes takes a month or two for a company to comply, but usually the mailings will stop. This takes some serious effort, but the work pays off!
I did phone calls to companies for a couple of months. My actions were random and only when I had time, but my mailbox is now clutter-free! When you have a clutter-free mailbox, you seriously reduce the paper clutter in your home!
If you would like more information, check out how to create a mail organizational system without a big DIY project.
8. Say, “No, thank you,” to kid’s paper clutter.
Kids activities and events can be a huge source of paper clutter. Everywhere from school to church to fairs to libraries want to give you more paper.
The best way to reduce kid’s paper clutter is to simply say, “No, thank you.”
It can feel rude at first to say “no”, but you need to learn how to do it! Seriously: make “no, thank you,” your default response.
You do NOT need to take every free thing offered to you. It’s one of the biggest ways that clutter enters our homes – free stuff we don’t need or actually want in the first place.
You can also recycle things before they come into your home. Just be sure to ask your kids first about activity papers or artwork (try this simple system for keeping kid’s art clutter under control).
If the papers contain important dates or events, transfer the information you need to your bullet journal or family calendar immediately – as in as soon as you walk in the door. Then recycle the paper.
Take the Time to Reduce Your Paper Clutter
Don’t let paper clutter ruin the look of your home. The fix is too easy.
It takes a little time, but the effort is well worth it.
You will also be doing a great deal to reduce paper waste, which can make you feel good about your efforts to reduce paper clutter!
Read Next: The Easiest Way to Manage Kid’s Art Clutter
More About the Author:
My name is Brooke, and I blog at Happy Simple Mom. I have been on a personal journey over the past few years to declutter my home, simplify my life, and make this whole mom gig a little easier. It is my mission to help other moms declutter their homes and lives and finally start experiencing being a mom without the chaos of emotional and physical clutter!
If you are interested in decluttering your home and want a quick start guide, check out my three secrets to decluttering a home fast and download the Declutter Your Home Starter Kit. It includes worksheets and checklists to help you get started on your decluttering journey.
I would love it if you joined our community of moms who are ready to simplify and find joy, both at home and in life.