How to Rid Your Home Office of Paper Clutter

too much home office paper clutterPaper clutter is one of those things that plagues many people who work from home. I’m one of those people who tends to have a lot of paper around that I don’t really need anymore, and it just takes up valuable space and becomes a mess over time.

Have you been there, done that? Has the top of your desk or workspace ever been covered with miscellaneous stacks and piles of paper in random fashion? Have you opened drawers only to find unnecessary paper stuffed in there that you have to dig through to find something?

I’ve taken steps to eliminate this problem, and I’d like to share some tips that have helped me overcome my paper clutter problem.

Your home office can be a large room in your house, or maybe even just a corner in your bedroom. Wherever you are, you will have paperwork there to deal with. Depending on what type of business you are running, it can be a little or a lot of paper. What’s true, in either case, is that paper which isn’t well managed will turn into paper clutter no matter how little you have.

I read once that paper clutter is the result of delaying decisions. I would have to agree with that, because I’m one who has that tendency to read something and then put it in a stack to deal with some other time. It’s so easy to think “I’ll get to this later” so you leave it laying around thinking “out of sight, out of mind so I’d better keep it here where I’ll remember“. This is the beginning of the problem.

Take a glance around your home office space. What paper do you see? Do you know why all of it is there? Many times we’ll print out information for reference, and just leave it laying around. A great deal of the paper is simply accumulating to create undesirable clutter, and needs to be processed in one of two ways:

  • file it where that you will remember to look for it when you need it, IF you will really need it later
  • toss it in the trash if it’s something you don’t really need or just want to save for no special reason

If a piece of paper can be filed away pretty fast, just do it while you have your hands on it. If it represents a reminder to do something you can go ahead and get done, do it and toss the paper. You’ll feel much better for getting the task out of the way and ridding your workspace of one more unnecessary piece of paper clutter.

If the paper is a reminder, or something you need for a task you can only do later, create some sort of “pending” folder where it can stay out of the way until you need it. Set up a reminder in your calendar or scheduler for the date you need to pull it out and act on it.

The real key to getting rid of paper clutter is dealing with it while it’s in your hands. File it or toss it. Avoid procrastinating and putting it in piles to deal with later. This takes a lot of discipline, but it has helped me tremendously.

Did you get some value from this post? If you did, I would really appreciate you sharing it with others! And, your comments are welcome below!

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Eldon Beard, Home Business Success Coach

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About Eldon Beard

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  1. Eldon, it is always a pleasure to come and visit your site to find just what I needed as motivation. I am in the middle of a 30 day challenge to declutter my house. I’m talking a major purge which will include the papers in my office. I have been working on this for a few weeks and I decided to do this challenge so that I can have daily motivation. Decluttering is not my favorite thing. No matter how hard I try I cannot seem to get my habit in place to deal with papers as they come in. Old piling habits die hard. I will forge forward and know that eventually it will happen and the habit will become one of less clutter.

    • Eldon and Vanessa, my theme for 2012 will include organize and simplify. The people I respect the most seem to have the cleanest and most organized spaces. I myself live in a pretty small home, without a lot of closet space, so it’s been a challenge to get organized. But, with this theme in mind, I am hopeful!

  2. Eldon Beard says:

    Hi VaNessa, good luck with the 30 day challenge! I know you’ll feel better when you have everything more in order. A couple weeks ago I did a MAJOR cleanup of our worst “clutter room”. I threw out bags and bags of old paper and just plain junk. When I looked at all that, I couldn’t believe there was so much in there!

  3. Hi Eldon,

    UGH! I just hate office clutter and likely because I have so much of it that it weighs heavily on my mind. My biggest weakness when it comes to the paper clutter is that of filing. I don’t happen to enjoy filing so often let it pile up until I can take the time to create the necessary folders and get it filed. I do so enjoy life better however, when there aren’t piles of paper hanging around.

  4. Eldon Beard says:

    Filing is not my favorite thing either Linnea, I just have to MAKE myself do it! LOL

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