How to Eliminate Your Paper Clutter


If your desk is drowning in files, drawers jam packed with receipts, and important documents buried under mounds of letters, notes, and pamphlets — it may be time to tackle the paper build up that's hindering you from having a zen workspace. 


My partner and I don't conflict often, but when we do paper (of all things) is often the culprit.

We are both quite minimalistic but we veer off in different directions when it comes to this touchy subject. 

I prefer using devices to manage task and projects. He likes pad and pencil — and also prefers to keep paper copies of lots of things that I secretly want to burn. 

So how do we compromise? Using a combination of the following tactics ...


The first step is to collect all the paper items in your bags, drawers, and other areas of your home or office, throw them in a pile, and start going through them piece by piece. 

The goal here should be to throw in the recycling bin anything that is not a necessity such as scraps of random notes, old bills, and dated receipts. 


For the important items that are left over, sort them by categories according to major life themes — for example finances, school, work, health, travel, etc. 

These will be the categories you use to organize, and easily file and retrieve, these items going forward. 


Set aside the items that you believe you absolutely must have a paper version of (e.g. copies of the last few years tax return).

Add these items to a paper file (labeled with the appropriate category) that you keep neatly stored in a drawer or cabinet. 

For all others, set up a virtual filing system (that mimics your paper system) in Dropbox, Evernote, Google Docs, or the equivalent.

Snap photos of these documents and save them to the folder of the relevant category. Then throw the paper versions in the recycle bin.

minimalist workspace no paper clutter


Is that it? Yes! These three steps are enough to manage your paper (and perhaps save your relationship).

You don't have to be overwhelmed by paperwork. By making it a regular habit (only a few minutes a week) to run through the steps above you can significantly cut down on workspace clutter. 

Images: My Unfinished Home, Sijmen Interieur  

Want more simple living tips? 

I help thinkers, creators, and entrepreneurs achieve their ambitions by streamlining their life, changing their mindset, and focusing on what matters most.

Learn how to apply simple living principles to different areas of your life by enrolling in the Minimalism Challenge.