Clear the Paper Clutter

That was in my house? Really? I’m a pretty organized person! But the truth lay bagged up right there in front of me… 87.6 pounds of paper clutter. Un-looked at papers taking up precious space in our house. Some neatly organized in a file cabinet. Some put in storage bins to remind us of days long past. None of the papers were actually needed and were just adding visual clutter and stress to our home. Sound familiar? Yes! Then let’s do a detox of paper clutter so you can add space and more sanity to your home.

Paper clutter can be boiled down to three brutal truths…

  1. Paper stacks represent unmade decisions. We stack because we can’t focus long enough to make a decision on the paper. Are we going to RSVP yes to this party invitation? What should I file this receipt under?
  2. We aren’t very organized. Being a perfectionist, that one stings me to the core. I think I’m organized. However, when I see papers piling up on my kitchen counter, it is like a slap in the face reminding me that I really don’t have all my crap together like I think I do.
  3. We’re procrastinators. Maybe not consciously, but something in the back of our minds has kept us from finishing the task of filing or purging that paper when it was in our hand. Instead of doing it now, we stack the paper up with the intent of doing it later.


You’re either wanting to punch me in the face right now because that truth just stung a little. Or, you are violently nodding your head in agreement. No judgement here. Remember, Brad and I just cleared out 87 pounds of paper from our house!

Clear the Paper Clutter pinnable Pinterest image


So here’s the story on all that paper…

We had just returned home from vacation when I received the following email from a professional organizer who had spoken at one of my mom’s groups. I loved her take on organizing… simplify, be cost effective, and make everything beautiful with some simple organization! So at that point I was hanging on every word she said (or typed).

Dear Alisha,

The deadline is almost here!  You have until THIS THURSDAY to send in the pictures of your filled bags along with the total weight that they weigh on the scale.

Prize is 1 free hour of professional home organizing along with a package of heavy duty garbage bags.

If you are unaware of this competition, here are the rules…

The challenge actually started the week before we left on vacation, but with a sick kid and a packing agenda, I missed the previous email. With only 48 hours of the challenge left, I decided hubby and I were going for it. I’m sure we could come up with a few things to get rid of and we both knew that our storage room could use help from the organization fairy. So it was on! 

The first place I started was our Vertical File Box. I live out of that box and although it is gone through semi-regularly, I found more unnecessary papers in there that I care to admit. And if I was housing unnecessary papers in our “working” box, I was afraid to see what I’d find in our office.

Hubby and I were on a mission. I cleaned out magazines, old catalogs, paper stacks and files. He cleaned out our previous year’s 3-ring binder of medical stuff and a couple extra-large files that had made a home in our file cabinet years ago.

We had 3 bags going. Two for recycling, one for shredding. And I was still looking in every inch of our house that I could quickly pull papers from. In desperation, I even pulled out the large banana box that held memories of my school days.  Who needs old history tests from 7th grade 20+ years later? Or papers from their sex education class? (I was apparently really worried I wouldn’t know how babies were made! LOL)

The hands on the clock seemed to be spinning in fast forward. And all too soon, weigh in time arrived.

The bags were too large to fit on our scale for an accurate weight. So Brad held all three bags and stepped on the scale. Then he weighed himself (with no bags) and subtracted the difference.

Clear the Paper Clutter Challenge

Within 48 hours, we pulled out 87.6 pounds of organized clutter!

Wait… organized clutter?

Oxymoron, right?  Yup. Each paper we packed into those bags had previously been hiding in its own neat little spot. There were no big piles lying around. No overflowing drawers that couldn’t shut. None of that. Yet our files and nicely organized cabinets were full of unnecessary paper lurking inside!

Sad to say, we came in third for the paper challenge. However, what a relief to have the files cleaned out and more storage space!

That challenge has been such a motivator. Since then we have gotten rid of our filing cabinet and rely solely on 2 small file drawers in our desk and two vertical hanging file boxes. And we have truly tackled how to organize paper!

Now my friend, it’s your turn! I’m challenging you to clear the paper clutter. It’s going to be like ripping off a bandaid. You’ve gotta just decide to do it and start. Don’t put the task off til tomorrow or this winter. It won’t be any funner then.

If you need ideas on how to get ‘er done, I’ve shared lots of great tips of how to get organized in my Paper Organization post. All I can say is dedicate at least 15 minutes each day going through paper. As you see the piles dwindle, you’ll be even more motivated to keep on clearing out the clutter!

Good luck!


Share this with your friends…