Why is paper clutter so hard to deal with?

Paper clutter does involve thinking and making decisions, but all clutter does, doesn’t it? I can’t figure out why it’s so hard. Maybe some of you can give me a lightbulb moment with your insights in the comments. Anyway, I think it’s one of my biggest struggles with clutter.

I have been trying to deal with these three containers of paper clutter for a while now, and I’m just not getting it done.

 But I’m not giving up. I’m quite certain that won’t help anything.

Now, to “celebrate my successes,” I did go through one container during my first paper clutter week with Project: SImplify, and I finally emptied that white laundry basket of papers. See?

I really thought about taking a break and moving on to a more “exciting” decluttering, but I think it will be good for me to finish those other 2 containers before moving on. (I actually do have other containers of older paper clutter around the house, but I’m going to let those wait for another time.)

I think maybe I need to look at where all of my time is going, and  try implementing more of a schedule (Yikes!).

OK, one step at a time….here I go…trying not to get too overwhelmed with it all! I hope to report back soon with 2 more empty containers! Paper clutter, be gone!

By the way, one of my recent goals is to prepare simple healthy dinners for my family. I like cooking, but cooking has been taking up too much time in my day, so I’m trying to simplify. It seems like simplifying dinner will give me more time to work on all of this decluttering. I’m thinking about posting some of my simple dinner successes. Interested?

Is paper clutter hard for you? If not, what kind of clutter gives you the most difficulty? If you know why it’s so hard, you get imaginary bonus points.

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18 Comments

Filed under Declutter, Paper Clutter

18 Responses to Why is paper clutter so hard to deal with?

  1. Paper clutter is my biggest enemy and I can tell you one reason right off my head – because it just keep pouring in. From our mail, schools, our cuties’ little creations, and sometimes, people just had to slip in a paper or two through your door or under the wiper! And us, smart shoppers just feel obligated to look through all of them – eventually…

    Thank you for posting, seeing your accomplishments reminds me that I need to get off my computer and get back to work!

  2. Paper clutter is hard in my opinion because there’s so much of it. If that laundry basket were full of stuffed animals it would have taken you much less time to sort through. Paper is flat so you can accumulate a lot without realizing it…. That’s my experience anyways!

  3. Jan

    Paper clutter is my worst enemy! I think the reason is that it’s much more complex than other clutter in that you have to read it before you let it go (and some of it’s pretty boring!) and then you have to make a decision on it. Following the decision there may be yet another action that needs to be taken, before that one piece of paper can leave your house. And that’s just one piece! Good luck with your paper clutter, mine is certainly an ongoing battle.

  4. Oh how I hate paper clutter! I am still recovering from “staycation” this past weekend… My desk overfloweth!

    One thing that really helps, though:
    when I get the mail, I IMMEDIATELY recycle the junk and the non-junk envelopes.

    That makes me feel accomplished! ;)

    Go girl- go! You are doing awesome!!

    • I was just coming here to suggest something similar.

      If you’re struggling with the overwhelming nature of the sorting, try setting a timer for 15 minutes, and during those 15 minutes, sit down and ruthlessly sort out the junk papers. Don’t be waylaid by the trickier stuff (should I file this? Should I check with Mr. RSS about this?)…just quickly sort out the stuff that’s easy.

      Then at least your pile will be reduced to the more important stuff and it’ll hopefully be a much smaller pile.

      And in the future, do what Kimberly said…open the mail near a recycling bin and immediately chuck the stuff that you don’t need to keep.

      Also, yes, I think simple dinner idea posts would be a good fit here!

      • Ok! A 15 min timer is a very good idea!

        I’m telling you, ladies, I have been tryyyyying to trash the mail that can be trashed right away. But it often seems like something urgent happens right at that time – a poopy diaper, somebody’s boo boo, the phone ringing, someone’s hungry or crying, a new comment on my blog. You know the scene. So I deal with that thing first and then forget about the mail.

        I know I should just take the 60 seconds and do it, though!!! We’ll check back on this.

        I was joking with Mr. RSS last night that I have a new idea for how to deal with the mail. Let’s just leave it in the mailbox and never bring it into the house in the first place! Mail goes in the mailbox, right? Seems perfectly reasonable to me! ;-)

      • WilliamB

        I do this, the dealing with the easier stuff first to reduce the pile size.

        Which is why I have several short piles of things that will takes me months each to deal with.

  5. Paper clutter is the worst for me because it’s all about potential, isn’t it? Whereas rarely-worn shoes or a stack of mending are actual things.

    With paper, it’s “I could be missing out on a great coupon, or some good information, or an update from the bank”, so it sticks around (for me, anyway).

  6. Sarah Godwin

    I’m always interested in simple dinner ideas, especially if they are things that will tempt my picky eaters. I love to cook, but it can be very time-consuming.

    Congrats on the empty basket! I’m a big believer in celebrating the successes instead of mourning the work still undone. Encouragement is a better motivator than guilt and stress! Paper clutter is the worst for me, too, but I’m not sure why. I have been trying to identify the problem and figure out ways to make it better. I have been working on not letting it get worse while slowly (very slowly) chipping away at the existing problem. I keep thinking that there should be a simple system that would make this easier and reduce the stress it causes. I am determined not to move all this paper clutter this summer and to develop a system so that it doesn’t grow again and take over the next house. I’ll let you know if I figure out anything.

  7. I just want to say that I think you guys are awesome!! So much insight and encouragement and smarts! Love ya’ll. Imaginary bonus points all around! :-)

  8. Pingback: Where to start decluttering? 7 questions to help you (and me) figure it out « Ready. Set. Simplify.

  9. I don’t know if this is still a problem for you, but my take on paper is that more often than not you don’t need it because everything is electronic now. If you ever need an older statement for example, you will likely be able to find it online. Also if it works for you, switching to paper-less billing will really reduce your paper clutter too.

    As for coupons and such, I don’t ever bother even looking. All of that stuff goes directly to recycling. Spending a lot of time going through the circulars (likely expired if they’ve been sitting in a pile forever) only to unearth a coupon to save 50 cents (assuming you ever use it) does not seem like a good use of time or space. If that really bothers you though, maybe you can have one stack that you automatically throw out every week or two weeks. If you haven’t used it by the end of the week, all that stuff is probably expired anyway.

    And lastly, if you are subscribing to a lot of newspapers and magazines that are in the piles and never read, unsubscribe! You won’t miss it.

    Hope this is helpful, I’m sort of a minimalist myself and I think your blog is great. I imagine trying to stay on top of everything with all your little ones around must be quite challenging; I’m really rooting for you!

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