How to deal with junk mail and paper clutter

A reader asks:

Hey Tara, do you have any posts on tips how to keep mail and junk mail under control? We’re being suffocated by mail!

Surprisingly, I did not have a post on this topic but it is one that I was happy to add to my list. I do have a couple of suggestions for this reader, one having to do with habit building, my favorite topic!

Reduce the mail flow

First I would suggest that you work hard to reduce the mail flow coming in. If you’re an online business, you can easily install an exchange reporting system to automatically remove any junk mail from your inbox. However, in-person with paper mail, things can be a little harder.

Deal with your bills as much as you can electronically online instead of by mail. This will greatly reduce the paper clutter that comes through the mail. If you have important paper documents that you’re wanting to electronically back-up for security purposes, you might benefit from looking into something like this HP scanner software alternative by FileCenter, after all, organizing digital documents can be a lot easier than its paper equivalent.

Also, try to stop as much of the junk mail as possible. I have not tried every single one of these suggestions, but here is a great list for who to contact to get off of junk mailers. It is always a good idea to find the root cause of a problem, and this will definitely cut a huge problem at a root. If you are interested in discovering more about how to manage your mail, you can click here to find out more.

Say goodbye to junk mail and paper clutter!

Don’t start a pile

Second, is a habit based suggestion. When you bring your mail inside, do not even set it down. If it is junk, immediately throw it away in the recycling as soon as you walk inside the house. If it gets set down, you can guarantee a pile will start to form there and before you know it, you are drowning again.

If it is something that needs to be dealt with, hang it up somewhere with a magnet or a pin so that you can deal with it in a timely manner. If it is something like an invitation, put the information in your calendar immediately and throw it away. Important pieces of paper can be scanned and thrown away. There are even apps for smart phones that allow for scanning if you don’t have a full size scanner.

What about kids’ drawings and projects?

This can be a difficult one, especially for children like mine who love to draw and be creative. They are always drawing special pictures that they want to gift mom and dad with. So what is a parent to do? I don’t want to make them think I don’t value them or the gifts they give.

What I do is I have a board where we display the drawings for a bit, and then I take them down and either put them in a binder or small bin or put it in the recycling. It is pretty easy for me to decide. Is this really great or do I have fifty of this same scene? Another option is to take a picture of your children’s creations and let the originals go. If it is truly a treasure to you, please keep it, but let’s be honest. Every stick drawing is not a treasure. You can get rid of it guilt-free.

I hope this is helpful to you! Is paper clutter an issue at your house? What’s your best tip?



  1. JennaMom March 10, 2017 at 4:09 am - Reply

    We have a piece of yarn strung up in the hallway with paper clips as a sort of “art gallery.” The kids get to decide if it’s good enough to hang, but there are only so many paper clips! If something new goes up, they have to take something down. They must decide if it goes into their very own binder of favorites to keep (which I have planned to give them at graduation) or if it gets tossed.

    • Tara Buss March 10, 2017 at 4:30 am - Reply

      Great idea giving them ownership!

  2. Ginger April 7, 2017 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Give each kid a cereal box (they can decorate it if they like) to store special papers from school. They get one box for each grade for 3 or 4 years. In the fourth grade they will sort through first grade papers and decide what to keep. Those specials go into another cereal box. Only one box for this step. When they are through all twelve grades they can again (or maybe mom) sort through and decide what really should be kept. Those items put into a notebook with plastic sleeves. That notebook will be kept forever.
    Mom of five and sure wish I had thought of this 50 years ago.

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