How to Banish Your Paper Clutter (and Breathe Easy Again)

I have a love affair with paper. When I was young, my mom used to say that my bedroom was a fire hazard. I was always playing “school” and most papers were too important to get rid of! But now, I’m a mom of three, and paper clutter has taken on an entirely new meaning.

how to get rid of paper clutter

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declutter your paper

Have you ever looked over at your unruly desk and sighed? Or spent twenty minutes looking for one darn item? Or wondered what in the world to do with all those school papers the kids bring home?!

I’m not alone in trying to tame the mountain of papers that comes with having a family. As a whole, we’re all overwhelmed and beaten down with the sheer AMOUNT that comes our way.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! With a little forethought and follow-through, we can create an environment that facilitates focus and peace instead of exhaustion. Even with our busy lifestyles.

9 Ways to Banish the Paper Clutter

So, we’re taking a dive into unique ways to tame the paper chaos and breathe easier!


child clipboards for getting papers off the counter

Let’s start with all of those important school papers! I mean, NO ONE wants to be the parent that loses the permission slip or report card. If you have school-aged kids, a child organizational system is a MUST.

In our house, the best decision we ever made was to put up clipboards for the kids. Not only does it show their responsibilities (above), but we put their important papers on them too. Whenever we’re looking for something, it should ALWAYS be there. An added bonus is that the clipboards get the papers OFF of the counter. Thank goodness!

Not into clipboards? Keep a colorful folder for each child’s papers that need to be returned to school. Just make sure you have a designated spot (off of the counter) where you could find those critical papers in less than five seconds.


The best way to stay organized is to have LESS paper. So, let’s begin with the obvious! Start with junk mail. Utilize the FTC Consumer information to take your name off of unsolicited mail and phone calls. It takes just a few minutes but will be one less thing for you to worry about for years.


Next, many stores and libraries offer email receipts, so take advantage! At home, scan what you can, go paperless with your bills, and pay online.

Finally, check out Venmo for paying and receiving money from friends and family. The less paper you have stuffed into your purse and desk, the easier it will be to organize!


organize the paper clutter

Whether for organizing or decluttering, it helps to have a scheduled time to go through the pile that can accumulate during the week.

At our house, we take care of that unruly kitchen desk on Sundays. Not only does clearing the space clear our minds, but we also usually find something else that needs to be handled on Sunday (bills, bank stuff, etc). Whatever you do, pick a day or time when you have the time and mental energy to tackle the clutter.

Related Post: Things to do on Sunday for an Amazing Week


Command centers have become extremely popular for a variety of reasons. They are cute, a visual way to organize your family, and it’s all in ONE spot.

Check out this article from Mommy Thrives covering 8 unique command centers to help get the paper clutter off of the desks!

Small Command Centers For House or Apartment – Organization Tips For Family – Family Command Center Ideas For Walls


You know those papers that need to be dealt with but don’t have a real spot? Those are the ones that get me. The easy solution? CREATE a place!

Go through your papers and find a spot for everything there. If you can’t find a logical spot, perhaps you don’t need to keep it at all. Finally, consider file folders for what needs to be dealt with at a later date. Label them accordingly!

Special Tips with Kids’ Artwork

While my kids’ art is precious, it’s also REALLY abundant! Without a system, we’d be buried in paintings and crafts.


how to reduce paper clutter

Every home needs somewhere special to display artwork! In my home, we have the “You did it board!” I love that there’s a clip for each kid, and when we’re out of room, it’s a fantastic reminder to recycle.

A friend of mine uses these simple frames to display her kids’ artwork which also works really well!

organize the paper clutter

Finally, if you have the width or a playroom, string a line on the wall and hang clips and artwork there.


Organizational systems only work if they aren’t overflowing with stuff.

If you have a hard time keeping less, consider utilizing your technology! Take pictures of the artwork, then recycle it. Use your photos to make special chatbooks so your kids can look through their artwork in small books. They won’t even notice the bigger artwork versions are gone.

For the two or three yearly items that are extra special, have labeled tubs in the basement to keep longterm.


Most of the school papers and art that comes home is one-sided. We put those papers in a special drawer for the kids to reuse when they do their at-home art and craft projects.

I’m not sure if this helps with paper clutter, but it does get us to be more resourceful with what we already have.

Edit Ruthlessly

“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.”

Nathan W. Morris

If we let the unimportant dominate, we have much less time for what matters in life. In this case, the paper chaos distracts and burdens us, and HAS to go. Here are other quick ways to ruthlessly edit your paper trail

  • Only save coupons you WILL use.
  • Get rid of takeout menus that you can access online
  • Unsubscribe from catalogs and magazines that don’t matter to you
  • Buy a small shredder and keep it handy!
  • Only keep crafts and coloring books your kids use

My Bonus Scheduling Tip

paper organization


As the kids have gotten older, we’ve realized that a paper or shared phone calendar isn’t enough for us. Last year, we moved to a dry erase calendar on the fridge and it has been a GREAT organizational move.

First, my husband and I can BOTH see the entire month at a glance. He doesn’t have to ask me, and we don’t fight about whether someone put it in the phone.

Second, we know exactly where our time is going for the following month. Schedules are excellent tools for showing you what REALLY matters to you. If you say family is the most important thing, but your work and activities dominate, it’s time to re-evaluate. It’s our visual to show us if we align with our values.

Something to Consider with Clutter

What will you do today to reduce your paper clutter?

Paper clutter is just one part of the bigger picture. When our lives and homes are filled with stuff, it’s difficult to find clarity and focus.

And, if you don’t edit and prioritize your life, someone else will. In this case, that’s other people’s priorities on paper. So, take charge this year, find your calm place, and create the home environment you dream of.

Want more decluttering tips? Check out 21 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Life, Right Now

Other organizational posts you may enjoy…

How to Reduce Paper Clutter (and Breathe Easy Again)


  1. Being a teacher who focuses on environmental education, I love that you want to reuse school papers! School crafts can also make great present wrappers, so that’s another way to reuse paper.

    The command center is a must in a big family as well! 🙂
    Thank you for sharing and good luck in maintaining the low-waste lifestyle in 2020! ♥

    1. Alice, thanks so much for sharing! I’ve never thought of reusing school crafts as present wrappers. That’s an excellent idea!

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