One of the most common complaints people have about their homes is paper clutter. They are doing well if their problem is confined to a desk area. With children and busy schedules it can become overwhelming.
It has been said that paper clutter is delayed decision making. That may be. If we made snap decisions on everything that came through our doors we would be in poverty, chaos, or cheating ourselves of opportunities. Wisdom dictates investigation and evaluation and therefore, delayed decisions. A certain amount of paper clutter is necessary. The question is not only how we will store incoming papers, but how we will retrieve them when we need them again.
Some of us have a desk area where we can keep such things. Probably more of us have them strewn about, in piles on the corner of the kitchen counter or island, unused dining room table, hutch, top of the dryer, end table, foot of the bed… name your spot. Keeping a functional desk requires some degree of organization and forethought.
In our home we need multiple desks to keep us organized. We keep a desk in the kitchen, near (yes) the phone and shared household calendar. This is the catch station for the incoming papers, with a basket containing hanging files for organized, temporary, storage. Each file is marked according to its contents and the contents must be reviewed and culled monthly. Most files contain coupons, gift cards and store credits, grocery ads, recent church bulletins, neighborhood newsletters, catalog order forms, etc. There are also pens and pencils, erasers, notepads, paper clips, post-its, stamps, address labels, rubber bands, paper clips, a hole punch, envelopes, blank labels, white-out, address files, a stockpile of note cards, stapler, scissors and a 12” measuring stick/ straight-edge. Without this desk, I couldn’t function.
There is another desk on the first floor, which is used primarily by my husband. His desk stores a number of reference books, his Bible, pens and pencils, rubber bands, paper clips, blank paper, envelopes, scissors, personal pictures, playing cards, some games and maps. Clearly, his desk serves functions different than that in the kitchen.
The third is a computer desk in our office. It houses the desktop computer; CPU, back-up storage, screen, printer, keyboard and mouse. There we keep, in addition to the same sundries necessary to our kitchen desk, a paper cutter and 3-hole punch. This desk requires storage for business files, myriad work-related reference materials and stationery. We also have a file with long-term personal papers at this location. These items consume a significant amount of real estate.
Notice none of these 3 locations has anything to do with book bags or homework. No wonder people struggle with paper chaos!
This week, take an inventory of the items you need to store on a daily and weekly basis. Review the items listed above to get your thought processes rolling. What is creating paper clutter in your home? Next post, we’ll explore some solutions.