Take back your space with these simple tips to pull the plug on paper clutter:
Children's artwork. When you can't see the refrigerator, it's time to triage the flow of children's artwork. Sort each day's papers into an "artwork" folder in the Action File. Each week, select the best work to display as "Refrigerator Art of the Week," and consign last week's entry to a basic file marked with the child's name. At the end of the year, tuck the collection of the year's best works into a large envelope, mark it with the year, and add it to the household's classic files. Share extra art projects by writing letters to family members on the reverse side.
Calendars, menus and phone lists. Save telephone time by putting calendars, schedules, takeout menus and phone lists into clear page protectors in the Household Notebook. Flip through the Household Notebook to quickly check meeting dates or find phone numbers.
Cards and correspondence. Birthdays, celebrations and events are a regular part of life — so why dash to the card store for each occasion? Once a year, purchase an assortment of greeting cards, sympathy notes and stationery items. Stored together with stamps and pens, they'll handle social correspondence without stress.
Daily mail. Sort each day's mail over the recycling bin to make quick work of unwanted catalogs, coupons or ad circulars. For safety, shred or destroy credit card applications and financial solicitations before recycling.
Junk mail. Bar the door to junk mail, depositing it straight into the trash. Where it can't be avoided, as when it's enclosed in bill envelopes, put the problem where it belongs: remove any identifying information from the application and mail it back to the offending company inside the postage-paid envelope with a quick note saying, "No, thanks!" You'll support the postal service and help discourage junk mailers.
Manuals and warranties. Three-ring binders and a supply of clear plastic page protectors make it easy to file and find product manuals and appliance warranties. Once a year or so, flip through the binder and remove any paperwork concerning items you no longer own.
Newspapers and magazines. Forget placing fanned-out magazines or neatly stacked newspapers on table surfaces. Low-sided baskets or trays use the principle of "controlled clutter" to display readable items without permitting them to overrun the family room at will.
Receipts. When business expenses or tax considerations require that you save receipts, designate a quick-drop hanging file folder in the Action File to receive them. Discard other receipts — from the supermarket, florist or gas station — as soon as you get them.
Houseworks © 2006, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
Text copyright © 2006, 2010 Cynthia Townley Ewer