Tips for Decluttering Paperwork

From Lisa Cole of

Despite living in a digital age, children manage to generate a lot of paperwork. From the red book with weight records right through to university prospectuses, every week of parenting seems to bring in a new important bit of paper.

Couple this with work stuff; invoices, insurance certificates and tax returns and you can quite easily have a big mess on your hands.

There is a theory that you should only handle a piece of paper once, as soon as you get it you should either deal with it or file it. That is fine in theory, but in reality, when your son is handing you a letter from school, you are trying to cook dinner and keep track of a conversation on Twitter all at the same time it just does not work. You need quick, easy strategies to keep on top of it all.

Here are 5 ideas for ways to deal with the paperwork from family and work that are easy to implement and will save you time.

1) Have a place for all the papers

Designate one dumping ground for all paper that comes into the house. This will save you looking all over the place for something from recent history. Even if you have a good current filing system this will help you when you come to file it.

2) Dip into the dumping ground and get rid of the trash often

For each bit of paper ask yourself

  • Is it about something I will never get around to?
  • Is it about a place I will never go to?
  • Does it bring up bad memories?
  • Do I need it?
  • Is it out of date?
  • Can I find this information online?
  • Will I ever need this bit of paper?

If you don’t need it, get rid of it. You can do this in short 5 minute bursts, it will really help to keep on top of things.

3) Cull kids’ work quickly

When my son was in nursery he was a prolific artist. Every day he was there saw him proudly bring home a variety of artwork and at the end of term I’d be presented with a huge folder of the stuff. It is much easier to be selective about the work you are keeping when it is fresh. Faced with a decluttering a huge folder of muddy paint smears a year later it’s easy to feel guilty, as though you are throwing away their childhood. You are not!

  • If art goes on the fridge or wall, have a one in, one out policy.
  • Save work that means a lot to you, shows their size (handprints or footprints are good to keep).
  • From each batch of art that comes into the house, select just one or two items to save.

4) File into something beautiful

If you keep your papers in something that is a joy to use it will make the whole process so much easier. Avoid folders with tricky openings, filing cabinets that catch when you try to open them or boxes that break under the weight of the paper. Check out Pinterest for some great ideas.

5) Have broad categories in your filing system

Keeping very broad categories for your filing system saves time.  My ‘car’ folder holds the records of ownership, insurance, breakdown and services. It’s very easy to find anything in the folder and much easier than trying to find individual folders for each thing.

Gentle decluttering

I’m a big fan of decluttering in small doses and you can find lots of free walkthroughs, tips and guides at less-stuff. We have an amazing supportive Facebook group too where you will find lots of folk getting rid of thousands of things they no longer need without purging or getting overwhelmed.

Ready for more?

If you want to sort out your paperwork for good my book “From Piles to Files: Easy ways to declutter your paperwork in 5 days” will guide you through the process and help you create a filing system that is perfect for you. It is at the Amazon Kindle Bookstore and on Smashwords.

Lisa Cole is a website and graphic designer at She juggles design work with writing about decluttering, saving money and low impact living at She is mum to a teenage boy and has too many cats.



More from Family Friendly Working
Time to become an employer?
This month Sage is talking about employing people, and their blog already...
Read More

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.