Organize Paper Clutter

Paper ClutterI love organizing, but paperwork used to my biggest challenge. I tried to get organized by sorting papers into piles: To Mail. To Shred. To Recycle. To Do Later. To Do Sooner. DO TODAY! But faced with all those piles I was so overwhelmed I ended up only doing what I had to do and putting the rest off for later – much later.

Then last summer Teacher and I both read “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. I adapted his ideas to come up with a system that works for me.


As your paperwork comes in, sort it into one of four categories: Do, Defer, Deposit, or Dump.

  • Do: Take care of the things you can get done in 2 minutes or less right away. Then pat yourself on the back for cutting down on paper clutter and stress.
  • Defer: Set aside things that will take longer than 2 minutes. Put these on your To Do pile, then set aside some time every day to get them done.
  • Deposit: File the things you need to keep, like appliance instruction manuals or articles you want to reference later.
  • Dump: Get rid of junk mail and any other garbage right away.


You can do the same thing with your email! As you read each message, decide where it belongs:

  • Do: Reply right away if you can do it in 2 minutes or less.
  • Defer: Move messages that will require more than 2 minutes of your time out of your Inbox to a different folder. I set up an “Action” folder and use flags to indicate priority messages.
  • Deposit: File messages you may need to look up later into a separate folder. Mine is named “Reference” and divided into subfolders for blogging, child care, sewing, etc.
  • Delete: Get rid of spam and any messages you don’t need to keep.


Now it’s your turn to share:
How do YOU organize paperwork both online and off? Share your tips to managing physical and digital clutter!

Visit the main post on add your comments. While you’re there, remember to enter the Life Well Lived Sweepstakes!

Amy Sue

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Eating an Elephant

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

CommentLuv badge

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