Prompt Card Example from Declutter Deck™: Excess Paper
Set your timer for 60 minutes and take a before photo.
Declutter Your Excess Paper by Getting Rid of Magazines, Coupons and Brochures
Since going through my hair products, I’ve become more aware of how scattered things are within my home. I found a bottle of shampoo under the front seat of my car. The product must have rolled there from the back seat, leaking into the Target bag that was still wrapped around it. I had to toss the bag and the bottle right into the trash. When you start to clean out your things, you’ll have little ticklers that go off in the back of your head, like, I know I just bought that (fill in the blank). If you are more aware of what you own, and how much of it you have, things tend not to go missing as quickly or as often.
This time, we are on the hunt for magazines. Anything that isn’t current needs to be tossed. If you do want to keep something from an earlier edition, then pull out the page, put it in your pending box or file it, and discard the rest. The same is true of unused coupons. And brochures. Brochures just take up mind space. If you picked up a product brochure, and you want to start a project because of it, either get your project into the planning stages or forget about it. If you need the brochure for reference, put the telephone number in your phone. Most likely, anything you want to know is online. The same is true for appliance manuals and things of that nature.
Step 1: Take Everything Out and Make the Pile
Like we did with our hair care product card, it is time to find everything you own. Magazines can be everywhere. Under the bed, on your bedside table, in a drawer or armoire, on a table in the living room. Grab them all. Put them in a pile.
Next, look for coupons. Some may be stuck to your refrigerator, many in a drawer that contain the same one in weekly iterations, and still others in the back seat of your car. Lots of people keep them on their desk. I worked with one woman who kept all her coupons in a basket in her car. When we cleaned out her car together, I asked about the basket. She told me it was for coupons that she used every time she went to, for example, Bed, Bath and Beyond. Bed, Bath and Beyond is famous for the number of coupons they distribute. They have recently filed for bankruptcy and all the coupons are worthless.
Editing the woman’s basket was almost a non-negotiable for her. She treasured that red basket. The basket contained the same coupons, over and over, with expiration dates dating back five years. Did she really use the coupon basket or was it something she told herself she did? I think the latter is true.
Inside the basket, however, I did find a few valuable things. A gift certificate to her favorite restaurant that had no expiration date. I guessed it was three years old, and worth $25.00. With it, she took her son to lunch. We also found her car registration. Because she tended to put paper things from the mail into that basket, she had accidentally put her car registration and tags in there, too. That could have become a problem. In all, we discarded eighty percent of what was in the basket. Things were neither current nor relevant - some businesses had closed (unfortunately) after Covid.
It's important to regularly sort through your coupons and throw them away. It’s just clutter. The neighborhood pizza company issues a new coupon every week. If you think you’re going to have pizza this week, save ONE. Not twenty. If you think you need something at a store that offers coupon discounts, go there and buy the one thing you need using their coupon. The problem with coupons is that they encourage you to spend more, not less, because you think you’re getting a good deal. They encourage shopping.
While we are trying to reduce and organize, we don’t need to keep buying more. In fact, purchasing less is one of the best lessons of decluttering and organizing. Use up what you have instead of buying more of the same. Because you’re decluttering and organizing, you have a mental inventory list in your head. Purchase products one at a time. Stocking up on an item you rarely use is just a waste of money. Be proactive and mindful about what you purchase. Just because you get a coupon doesn’t mean you have to use it.
Step 2: Group Your Excess Paper
Group all like items together. This shouldn’t be hard, since typically one establishment repeatedly sends out the same coupon in some variation. Keep one coupon. Just one.
Step 3: Edit
Keep only those things that are current, and you use. If you think you might need last month’s article from a monthly magazine about a company you might call, pull out the page and put it in your pending box. The pending box, of course, will need to be addressed regularly. If it remains in your pending box for more than a month, it’s not really pending, it’s clutter. The same is true for brochures.
Step 4: Set Up a System and Sort Regularly
Establish a place to put your magazines (unless they are for decorator purposes on your coffee table) and read through them. Having magazines, just for the purpose of having magazines, is clutter. One woman I know kept a basket of magazines by her kitchen door. She added to it regularly; it overflowed. All the magazines at the bottom were crushed, and the basket had become so heavy that it was difficult to move when one of her dog’s toys went behind it. This isn’t a system. This is just a pile of heavy magazines that no one reads stuck in a basket. To get enjoyment from a magazine, you need to look through it, read the articles that interest you, absorb the information, and then let the magazine go. There will be another one coming, I promise you.
A good system may be a little coupon box. Maybe. Most likely, coupons don’t serve a purpose except to entice you to spend money. Really think about that the next time you walk out the door with coupon in hand. Do you really need what they’re trying to sell, or can you do without, substitute something else, or buy a like item for less?
Once you have put everything back, you’re finished. Adjust as necessary and take your excess paper to either the recycle bin or the shredder.
Take an after photo. Then, you’re finished for the day.
(Instructions provided by professional organizers at The Uncluttered Life, Inc.)
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Declutter Deck™ organizing prompts to help you get and stay organized at home. By breaking down decluttering into bite-sized pieces, you will eventually declutter and organize your entire home.
Dorm Deck to send along to school with your college student. This deck provides subtle reminders of things that will make their lives that much easier when it’s their first time away from home. Includes reminders to call and text often.
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