Create easy systems to deal with unnecessary paper trails

Amanda Schwartz, Founder of Find Simplicity (

Paper clutter is something we all deal with. It typically piles up in the kitchen or by the door and has the ability to take over entire countertops, if left unchecked.

So, what are some ways we can stay on top of paper clutter and control how much stays and how much goes? I suggest getting tough, creating easy systems for organization and to start letting go. Here are a few ways to deal with specific paper trails.

Thank you notes -

It's a thank you note, not an invite from the queen - So let's be honest, there is no need to save it! Read it, make a mental not of how thoughtful it was to receive, and then toss it. At most, a Thank you note should get a short stint on the fridge before being disposed of.

Birthday cards -

As a child, my Mother would display my birthday cards on a table in a common area for all to see. I enjoyed them being out for several days and adding to them as I received mail or someone stopped by to wish me a happy birthday. As an adult, I receive far fewer birthday cards, but I still follow this tradition. It makes birthday celebrations seem to last a little longer, the birthday boy or girl feel special and my son enjoys it as well! However, after a few days the cards come down, so what then?

I rarely keep a store bought birthday card unless it has a very special hand written message from someone extremely important to me. Getting rid of birthday cards does not make you ungrateful!

I probably have a total of 8 birthday cards from all my years, along with a few homemade cards from my son. However, let me assure you these birthday cards aren't in a pile at the end of the counter! I keep these with other things I deem just as valuable and they are treated as such. If you're hanging onto boxes of old birthday cards, I would challenge you to go through them. It's likely that a store bought message wasn't something you needed to save to after all.

Kids artwork -

If you have kids, you know the volume of paper that pours from their backpack every day. Some of you may disagree with me here, but you do not need to keep all those half colored pictures, word worksheets, and random scribbles.

Think into the future, when you or your children want to look back and reminisce over school years. I imagine being able to quickly locate a small tub labeled according to grade and finding special pieces of art and memories. This would not be possible if I saved everything! In most cases it would lesson the really memorable moments wading through all that paper. There are a lot of years of school, try to pace yourself!

Now, I understand that for kids everything is important and you should honor that, just not for a lifetime. At home we put everything on display in a designated spot for a certain period of time and then eventually I edit those items. Special pieces are stored in a pre-marked tub, others I let go of. Just a word to the wise, do not edit children's work when they are at home or awake! The last thing you want them to see you do is throw away anything they worked on or created!

Coupons -

Do you use coupons? I mean really use them? For most people the answer is no. We all have good intentions but we often forget, leave them at home, or let them expire.

For me; buying focuses on what I really need, which means I don't typically purchase something just because it's on Sale. Doing so requires storing products, and I value space far more. But, occasionally I come across a coupon for a product I've needed. If this is the case, I put it in my wallet or purse immediately. Left anywhere else and I can almost guarantee I won't have it when I want or need it. Another great idea is to have a small plastic sleeve in the car that coupons can be stored in. That way the coupons are going with you when you head out the door, regardless of if you think you'll need them or not.

The good news for everyone, whether you are a coupon clipper or not, is that smartphones make coupons just a few clicks away for us all. You can find them immediately have it scanned on your phone and there is no paper to deal with. This makes me happy!

Receipts -

It's great to have place to store receipts. That is of course unless you don't have a system for clearing the old ones out! Receipts seem so small, but man, these boogers will pile up quickly! You can waste time digging amongst them, not to mention they will easily take over a drawer, desk, or counter top. The good news is that these days most stores will return products without a receipt. At least I've never really had a problem. However it doesn't hurt to keep some. I say ‘some' because you don't need every receipt! When you get home and put your groceries away, you can toss the receipt. If you've tried on and decided you like a piece of clothing you can toss the receipt. Stop hanging onto things for the ‘what if's' in life! If you are a receipt keeper this needs to be something you address weekly. It takes a few minutes to purge yourself of weekly receipts but doing so will keep you sane over the course of a month or year.

There is no doubt that a lot of paper enters our homes, and these are just a few of the sources. The best thing to remember is that if it's coming in, it needs to be going out! That means it's up to you to create a balance and clear the paper piles. I promise taking the time sort and organize paper clutter will save you a ton of time and frustration in the future!


Author information:

Amanda Schwartz has had a successful career as a personal trainer and was an elite athlete at one time. An outdoor lover, born and raised in Australia who is constantly inspired by nature, Amanda enjoys adventures and will travel any chance she gets.Utilizing a flexible schedule to meet new people, Amanda believes in the importance of making a difference someone's life, no matter how small. With a huge weakness for snuggles on the couch with her boys, she is a firm believer that breakfast is not an option but a necessity!Amanda is thankful to have the great pleasure of doing something she truly enjoys, helping people live a more simple life. Creating neat, functional spaces and giving things ‘a home', she is confident that organization custom to you and your family will make life less stressful and allow you to enjoy the space you already have.For more information about Amanda's services or for a free consultation, contact her at or visit her website at .


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