Whoop whoop whoop!!!
That was me doing a happy dance.
AFTER clearing my last box of paper clutter.
I’ve learned I’m much happier without clutter full stop.
BUT I was especially happy to clear my paper clutter.
BECAUSE it seriously does your head in, doesn’t it?
There’s so much worry buried in all those piles of paper.
AND to be honest paper is one of the hardest things to declutter.
SO the trick to getting started, is to break it down into manageable bits.
And that’s what I am going to show you how to do here.
IF you want more general help with your clutter do sign up for my FREE support mails.
Every week I help you clear the clutter you will be happier without.
Now let’s get started with your paper clutter …
Clear Paper Clutter Now
We’re going to start with a bit of psychology.
1. The Psychology of Paper Clutter
For most of us, the BIG problem with paper clutter is, it’s ALL a jumble.
Important stuff and special memories are jumbled up with rubbish.
Bizarrely, all that rubbish is a bit of a security blanket.
It stops us from having to confront decisions. And often, problems.
BUT it is – I am telling you – a totally fake friend.
Paper clutter sends our anxiety through the roof.
Drowning in random paper, it’s impossible for us to focus on the important stuff.
We stop even knowing what paper is important.
Never mind find it. Or deal with it.
And we worry constantly about actual papers we have lost.
And forgotten papers we might have lost.
Cue panic attacks. Anxiety dreams. And worst.
That IS the price we pay for hoarding paper.
It’s enormous huh?
SO we want to clear as much paper as we can. Fast.
To give us the head space to deal with what really matters.
And, luckily there’s a whole load of paper clutter we can recycle easily.
2. Recycle Paper Clutter Fast
Our first step is just to gather up ALL the paper that can be recycled.
I’ve got a big list for you below of items to look out for.
To gather it all up use either a …
- Power purge if you’ve got lots of energy
- or an amnesty box if you find it harder to get around
I’ve explained before how to power purge. It’s very simple …
- Just set a timer for 15 minutes MAX.
- And whizz round the house with a bin bag.
- Focusing just on paper to recycle.
- Ignore ALL other clutter.
- Get the bag of recycling in an outdoor bin
- Repeat over a couple of days if necessary.
With the amnesty box method just get a big empty box and …
- Over a whole week
- Fill it little by little throughout the day
- With any paper to be recycled
- At the end of the week get it all in an outdoor bin
- Or ask friends or family to help empty it for you
It all sounds very simple doesn’t it?
But we will ALL – I promise you! – get stuck.
And dither about whether we should really let it go.
Telling ourselves …
- “I might need it …“
- “I don’t want to lose the memory …“
- “It’s a collectible!”
Please. Don’t worry if you find yourself saying all or any of these.
And I’ve got tricks below the list to help you deal with these blockers.
So let’s have a look at the list …
3. Big List Of Paper Clutter To Recycle
And here we are.
A big list of 40 items of paper clutter to power purge.
Or chuck in your amnesty box to recycle.
Focus on the list this week and see how much paper clutter you can clear.
I had FIVE bags worth!
Just remember, you will get stuck on some paper. And that’s OK.
Use the blocker tips below to keep going …
- Junk mail
- Old envelopes
- Take away menus
- Parcel collect forms
- Parking tickets
- Plane tickets
- Train tickets
- Electronics manuals
- Furniture manuals
- Old sponsor forms
- Birthday cards
- Save the date cards
- Wedding invitations
- Birthday party invites
- Christmas cards
- Sports tickets
- Sport programmes
- Theatre tickets
- Theatre programmes
- Old school & college papers
- Children’s art work
- Scrap paper
- Scrumpled, unusable wrapping paper
- Scruffy craft paper you won’t use
- Old note books
- Phone directories
- Completed puzzle books
- Old to do lists
- Unused folders & dividers
4. Tricks When You Get Stuck
OK, you’ve cleared some paper clutter.
Maybe, quite a bit. But now you’re stuck.
But don’t worry. We’re gonna get over it.
Remember earlier we talked about the price of paper clutter?
Well what I want you do is take one minute right now and jot down ALL the problems paper clutter causes you personally.
Fear. Worry. Anxiety. Arguments. Wasted time. Financial problems. Lost sleep.
Get them ALL down. And read them through.
They ARE the price of YOUR paper clutter.
It costs us alot, huh?
Which means we need a really good reason to hold onto it, don’t we?
So let’s interrogate the reasons we’ve been giving ourselves and see if they stack up.
But I Might Need It
“I might need it” is typically our reason for keeping manuals.
All sorts of manuals and guides.
Electronics. Furniture. Financial products. The lot.
I had boxes full of them. If you do too ask yourself …
- Have I ever used this information?
- How likely am I to need it?
- Do I even still own the product?
- Does it work?
- Could I find the information in this mess if I did need it?
- Would my information even be up to date?
- Could I find the same or better information quicker online?
- Could I ring the company up to get the information?
When I went through all the manuals I was hoarding, I could NOT find a reason which justified the personal price I was paying for all that paper clutter.
I didn’t own half the stuff I had manuals for. I’d never used any of them. I couldn’t imagine how I would use them. And a quick investigation showed me the information was online.
AND I ditched the lot. See if you can too.
I Don’t Want To Lose the Memory
Now, I don’t know about you but “I don’t want to lose the memory” has been my reason for keeping all sorts of paper clutter. Pictures, letters, post cards, christmas cards, theatre tickets etc.
And it’s a very good reason.
But again we pay a price for it. A big price.
So start asking yourself …
- Will I forget that person or time without this?
- Was it a special memory? Or just a lovely moment that’s passed?
- Does it truly give me pleasure to look at it again?
- Have I actually found the time enjoy it recently or ever?
- If I could only keep a few tokens of my past, would this be one?
These simple questions help us let go of paper clutter that doesn’t bring joy.
BUT typically not all of it. For the moment.
So grab yourself a box.
And put any remaining paper you’re keeping for sentimental reasons in the box.
We’re going to come back to it.
But very importantly we’ve clearly separated it from the paper we have to keep AND deal with.
It’s A Collectible
The final big reason lots of us give for paper hoarding is “it’s a collectible“.
Hmmm … really?
What most of us have is a big old pile of magazines, comics, programmes etc.
Scattered around the house. Moulding in the basement. Feeding the squirrels in the attic. Or collecting dust under the beds.
Remember that clutter has a price.
And ask yourself …
- Do I truly get pleasure from these?
- How do I enjoy them?
- When did I last take time to enjoy them?
- Do I have space to enjoy them?
That helped me let go of lots.
If that still leaves you with a big pile.
We will need to come back to it and tackle it as a collection.
BUT allocate a maximum space to it. Don’t exceed that space. And make sure it IS NOT mixed up with any of your other paper.
So there we go.
We’ve cleared a load of paper. Hurrah!
Critically, separated out sentimental and collectible paper clutter we’re not yet ready to let go.
AND created the space to deal with the important stuff.
AND the precious memories.
I do hope that helped.
For more declutter help do read these posts:
- Declutter everything in 5 minutes a day
- How to declutter all your boxes of random stuff
- Declutter your overwhelming garage (or basement or attic)