If you’re a student or you work in an office, from home or even out in the field, chances are you have to deal with lots of paper on a daily basis. Be it books, magazines, comics, letters, reports, bills, money or receipts.

In your office or study there are stacks of paperwork piling high and littering the ground. At home you have your comic book collection, your magazine collection and your monthly bills scattered everywhere. If this sounds like your office or living space, it’s time to get organised!

Decluttering your space will help you be more focused and reduce the time you spend searching for the papers you need. Plus, you’ll create valuable space for other important things that you may need at work or at home.

As you know, paper can quickly accumulate in piles. Papers that are shoved into boxes, files and folders can gather dust and make your place look like a mess. Even though a lot of businesses, schools and universities today operate on a no-paper basis (use of computers and online services), you have to admit that papers are going to be around in one form or another for a while to come, especially if you like to file reports and other documents, get sent bills, magazines and newspapers in the mail or if you collect comic books. There’s no need to gather all the paper you can see and throw it in the recycling bin; all you need to know is how to declutter the paper build up once and for all and develop habits that will help you to be more organised and stay organised.

If you have decided to declutter your dauntingly high paper piles, don’t be discouraged. Try these 10 tips and your office, study or living space could look a lot less cluttered.

1. Plan to Keep It Centralised

If you leave papers scattered around your house or your office, you will surely lose something. To prevent this from happening you need to centralise. Have a central work station, command center or base of operations – whatever you want to call it! – where you can work things out. Set up your workstation with a desk with ample space, a desktop or laptop for online work, a box for any unpaid bills as well as file storage drawers for any long term storage or paperwork that needs to be saved. A paper shredder is also a handy appliance to have near your desk; if you find yourself keeping papers you really don’t need for any purpose, why not shred them? Remember, if your command center isn’t comfortable, you won’t be able to get any work done there. When you’re finished with this,  move on to tip #2!

 2. Creating Categories

Once you have your work station, scour your home or office for all papers you need to organise. If you’re organising your home, make sure to check the fridge and your kitchen for any paper clutter. Paper grocery bags, grocery receipts and reminders should be disposed of if you don’t need them any longer. Get the piles of reports off your desk and sort everything into general categories – work, study, bills, or whatever works for you – so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for. You might need some room for this, so gather all of these papers on your living room floor or on a large table and separate into categories that can be redistributed around the home or office in the next few steps.

3. Dispose of Old Stuff

When going through your office space, your desk or home, learn to recognise obvious trash. Out-of-date reminders, expired coupons, junk mail, old bills that have been paid, scribbled notes, grocery lists and old catalogues should be disposed of in the recycling. If you feel that you don’t need a particular service or product, opt out of their catalogue mailing list to prevent more clutter.

4. Business Is Business

If you work at home or have a home-based business, don’t mix your legitimate paperwork (reports or work documents) with any non-work related folders or papers. Remove any non-work related papers from your work desk. If you need to dispose of them, don’t hesitate! This will help you focus on your work when you need to, as well as declutter your work space.

Image credit: phroogal.com

Image credit: phroogal.com

5. Scheduling Your Bills

When dealing with monthly bills, there are usually two things you might do. The first one and the most obvious is paying it, and the second is storing it. If you’re able to process your payment as soon as you receive your bill, then there’s really no point in keeping it any longer. If you need to store the bills until you can pay or until their due dates, you need to keep them organised. As mentioned earlier, have a box for unpaid bills and another box for the ones that have been already paid. To make them easy to track, store the paid bills by the month instead of the type of bill. If the paid bills no longer serve a purpose or are not required for any other transactions, recycle them to prevent any paper pile ups. Here’s a handy tip: if you want to keep your bills even after they have been paid (for your own records or for legal purposes) create digital copies by scanning them to your computer or laptop. This way you’ll be able to dispose of any useless paper but still keep the bills for reference.

6. Be Strategic About Decluttering

Do your paper pile decluttering in a strategic manner. Sometimes organising everything in one go during an extended length of time can be confusing and exhausting. If you have piles of paper that you need organised, sort through it in manageable increments. Do 30 minutes to an hour of organising every day and by the end of the week, it should be sorted. You will be able to see your progress in a more effective way. If you’re on a roll, add another 15 or 30 minutes to your organising time until you have finished decluttering the paper piles.

7. Avoid Distractions

It’s difficult not to get distracted while organising. You may come across something that you have not seen in ages and it can make you forget about the task you started. Step 6 will help you focus on the task at hand and accomplish your organising goals rather than reminiscing about the things you find under piles of paper.

8. Know What You Need To Keep

There are two kinds of paperwork or documents that you need to save. Documents that you need to keep on file might include tax information, insurance papers, receipts, copies of IDs, lease or mortgage papers, insurance documents, school documents, health records, etc. Documents that require immediate action might include utility bills, some school papers, forms to be completed and reports. These two kinds of documents should not be kept together! Keep the on-file documents in file storage, organised neatly and available for you to search for when you need them. Documents that require immediate attention should be kept in a desk or a separate file storage system the you can get to quickly.

9. Magazines, Books And Newspapers

If you have a magazine or comic collection that you no longer want, donate them to your local library or re-sell them for a cheaper price. You can do the same with books you’ve read too many times or aren’t interested in. Old piles of newspapers can be recycled as cleaning materials or protective mats if you’re ever doing house projects.

Don’t get buried alive under piles of paper! Start organising now.

About Author

Jon specialises in research and content creation for content marketing campaigns. He’s worked on campaigns for some of Australia's largest brands including across Technology, Cloud Computing, Renewable energy and Corporate event management. He’s an avid scooterist and musician.