Are You Drowning in Paper Piles?

Where does all that paper come from?

Paper used to be a rare and precious commodity, but today most families are drowning in it. Mail is delivered daily: utility bills, financial statements, medical explanation of benefits, store catalogs, magazines, election pamphlets. Children’s school work and art projects also create volumes of paper. Work-related documents can also pile up quickly. What if you have a small business? Tons of paper. What if you have a major life change, such as a divorce or buying/selling a home? So much paper. What if you manage multiple properties? More paper.

Much of the paper which enters our homes represents an action item of one kind or another. The action items could be: pay this bill, review this statement, call this company, read this document, save this document for the future, take advantage of this retail offer. You empty the mailbox on your way home from work, and voila, everything in the mailbox is now more to-do’s for you. As if you didn’t have enough to do already.

Mounds and Mounds of Paper

Even if you don’t receive many magazines or catalogs and you pay your bills online, you are still dealing with mounds of paper each month. What happens to all that paper? You probably throw out or recycle some. You might file some of it. Nevertheless, a serious backlog of paper can spring up virtually overnight. Before you know it, there is a sizable pile of “not sure what’s in there” kind of paperwork on your desk or kitchen counter. A couple of weeks pass, the pile blends into the background until visitors are due to arrive at any moment, and you quickly stash that pile of “probably nothing important” paperwork in a drawer (yikes, already full!), closet, guest bedroom, home office, or even the garage.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Even when we hide the paper piles somewhere, we know we are only delaying the inevitable. At some point, someone will need to go through that paper pile. The bigger the pile the longer it will take to address. Plus, who knows what could be hiding in those piles? Unpaid bills? Documents needed for taxes? Un-cashed checks? (We’ve found lots of money in paper piles over the years!) Medical reimbursements you didn’t know were coming? A form your child needed for school? Alternately, what if none of the paper in the pile was important at all? What if you’ve filled up your cupboards with completely useless stacks of paper? You’ll never know until you tackle it.

3 Techniques to Reduce Paper Volume

  • Recycle like it’s the last chance you’ll ever get. Be brutal. If you can find the information online, don’t keep the paper. Go to to unsubscribe from catalogs you no longer need.
  • Put paper in files instead of piles. If you don’t have a filing cabinet, use a file box and add labeled file folders. If that is not feasible, use plastic bins to contain categories of paper, and label the bins. For example, financial documents in one bin, medical papers in another. This way, if you need to find something, you only need to search in one box or one file.
  • File papers which require action in a Hot Box. Keep this box on your kitchen counter or in your office. Good candidates for the hot box are school forms, prescriptions, and unpaid bills. About 1 in 4 Americans don’t always pay their bills on time. With a hot box to keep your bills, you won’t be one of them. If you need to follow up with the insurance company about a bill, store the paperwork in the hot box. You’ll be able to retrieve what you need when you are ready to make that call.


Get help—You have enough to do already!

Do you need someone to take this task off your plate? Do you hate filing? Feeling overwhelmed by your paper volume? No problem. Conquering paper is hard, and guess what? You don’t have to do it alone. Working with a professional organizer has countless benefits. We know what paper needs to be shredded. We know what documents you need to keep and how long. We can set up a filing system for you. Once we’ve set up the filing system, we can even periodically do your filing for you (even if you are on away on vacation)! Working one-on-one with a professional organizer will significantly reduce how long it takes to get through those paper piles, that is a promise! Hey, without all that old paper you can have your closet back, and wouldn’t that be nice?


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