Posts Tagged ‘organize’

For this blog, I’m going to focus on de-cluttering paper. Paper is one of my favorite mediums. I like magazines, books, vintage paper, and paper ephemera. I enjoy notebooks, journals, and lovely paper. I like cookbooks and recipes which I have collected for years. I take my time selecting my calendar for the year being mindful that I will have this paper document for a year. Personal disclaimer: I know that I have an abundance of paper. I am a work in progress. I am making strides in this area but it is still a challenge for me.

How do you Tame the Paper Monster? Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

Read your magazines. Are there articles you must keep? If so, take a picture or tear out and file. Really look at the article or recipe and consider whether it really fits your needs right now. Can you find this on-line so that you are not keeping the paper copy? Once you have read them, either pass them on or recycle them. Don’t let them pile up and clutter your space. If you don’t enjoy them anymore, don’t renew your subscription. Even if they send you the best deal ever! IF you don’t renew, and you miss the magazine, be patient, you will probably get an invitation back at a deep discount.

Sorting recipes - messy papers

Sorting recipes

Recipes & Cookbooks: I recently went through two notebooks full of recipes and a box of clipped recipes. Over the years, I had fun collecting these recipes. I had good intentions that I’d fix all of these foods for my family but honestly, I didn’t fix many of them. I gave away many cookbooks, recycled the recipes I won’t fix and streamlined this into one notebook.

Clean table - after sorting through recipes

After – Clean table after sorting recipes

Bills: An easy way to decrease bill clutter is to go online and pay the bill immediately. I pay most of my bills online so that I can schedule the payment before the due date. When you receive the bill, go online to pay or schedule it. Then, file the bill, recycle the envelope, and shred any paper with identifying information. Remember that you can also set automatic payments or e-bills to decrease paper bills even more. Did you know that some companies charge $1 or more per month for a paper bill? Read the fine print on your bill and you might notice this. If so, consider getting e-bills to reduce paper clutter, help the environment and save money.

Coupons: Will you save money by using your coupons? If so, organize them in a way that works for you. It might be an envelope, small file folder or coupon holder. Carry fast food coupons in your car – so they are handy and ready to use. Figure out what works for you and make it happen.

Financial papers, tax returns: Shred any papers with identifying information. Credit card applications, bills, receipts or other mail that contains personal information. For specifics about how long you should keep certain papers, talk to your accountant or check out these suggestions from University of Illinois Extension.

Start small this summer to De-clutter – take steps to tame the paper monster, clear out a closet, photograph your special items and move them out of your life. Remember that it takes time and it may not be easy. Set a timer and go! Clear out an area – you will feel great about the progress you made. Need more inspiration? Check out the blog posted on Monday about De-cluttering your space.

Do you have an idea that works for you? If so, share it in the comments below.


Dealing with Clutter. Retrieved from: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/clutter/dealing.html 

Kennedy, S. (2018). Keeping Important Papers and Documents. University of Florida/IFAS Extension Wakulla County, Retrieved from http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/wakullaco/2018/04/01/keeping-important-papers-and-documents/

What Do I Do With. . . Financial and Tax Records.  Retrieved from: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/clutter/financial_tax.html

Writer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County, brinkman.93@osu.edu

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It seems that everyone is posting on social media how they are de-cluttering, cleaning out, donating, or giving away items. Have you joined this effort? If not – check out these easy ideas to help you get started.

When you see the perfect space – neat and orderly, how do you feel? Take a moment to think about your style of cleaning and de-cluttering. Do you tackle the entire job? Do you take it a small section at a time? Do you avoid it at all costs? Let’s think about your closet and how you might tackle it.

I like to de-clutter at the beginning of each season. It is the perfect time to look at clothes, pick the favorites and get rid of things you do not enjoy wearing. If they don’t fit, are torn, or just don’t work anymore, get rid of them! As you select what you are going to Card with questions about keeping or tossing an itemwear for the day, inspect an item or two in your closet and decide – do you want to keep or give them away? If you don’t want it anymore, put it in a give-away bag. Take it to your car or garage so that it is out of sight and ready to donate. This quick strategy can help you clear out your closet. Many people suggest taking everything out of your closet and purging – this works great, but you may feel overwhelmed with this approach to clear out your closet. Up front I want to acknowledge that I am a work in progress. I will not profess to having a neat and orderly home, but I am making strides in this area.

While researching information for this blog, I found a great way to help us donate items that have sentimental value to us. What is it? It is simply taking a picture of the item before donating it! Does this sound too simple? Check out this short video shared by Ohio State University Professor Rebecca Reczek for insights into this simple strategy.

What is your next step? Just start! – I like this quick list of 101 items to help jump start your de-cluttering. Can you eliminate any of these from your life? IF you are ready, get rid of the items and move on.




Visit the University of Illinois Extension website for more detailed information on Dealing with Clutter.

Neat and Orderly Living Space

Organized Living Space

Remember, find an organizing style that works for you and get started today! Soon your area will be neat and organized!

Do you have an idea that works for you? If so, share it in the comments below.



Dealing with Clutter.  https://web.extension.illinois.edu/clutter/dealing.html

Keep or Toss Card. Adapted from University of Illinois, Clear the Clutter: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/clutter/clearing.html

Reczek, R. (2017). Scientists find clever way to help you de-clutter your home. Retrieved from: https://news.osu.edu/scientists-find-clever-way-to-help-you-de-clutter-your-home/

Rupp, M. (2020). De-clutter List. Available: go.osu.edu/declutterlist

Photo credit:

Image by Jean van der Meulen from Pixabay

Writer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County, brinkman.93@osu.edu

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There are varied findings on the effects of clutter in the home or workplace. According to a study published in 2011 by the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute, the more visual stimuli in our environment, the less we are able to focus. According to this research, an uncluttered and organized home and office will help reduce irritability and distraction.  It will also promote productivity and better information processing. Clutter can drain us of energy and interrupt some of our daily processes, like getting to work or school on time. For some, however, a messy desk can spark creativity, according to a recent study by Kathleen Vohs and colleagues at the University of Minnesota. Results from one of their experiments showed that participants in a disorderly room were more creative than participants in an orderly room.

So if your clutter doesn’t bother you or anyone else… embrace it! If it does bother someone, read on…

Have you ever been frustrated by not being able to find a bill or invitation?  Does your child frantically rush to find his backpack, shoes or library books in the final minutes before the school bus comes? Is it a challenge to coordinate your family’s many activities on a central schedule? My recent frustration with all of these scenarios led me on an organization journey for a few trouble spots in my home, namely paperwork and the family “drop spot” (where everyone dumps their belongings once inside the house).

There’s an old saying that still rings true… have a place for everything, and put everything in its place. The first part of that takes some trouble-shooting; the second part takes forming a habit to maintain the organization.

To help create a “place for everything,” I conducted an online search using terms such as ‘family command center’ and ‘family launch pad’ and collected a lot of ideas and pictures. Then I figured out where the problem spots were in my home and what organizational tool or process might help with that. With concern for saving space, time, and money, I was able to solve most of our issues by adding a few cubbies and hooks where needed.


Putting everything in its place… ah, this is a continuing adventure, one that I’ve brought my whole family on. Sometimes we need to remind each other to put our shoes away instead of in the middle of the floor (myself included). Overall, the time and effort put into organization has made a big difference in keeping our living area more tidy.  It has also helped us in getting out the door in the morning with a little less chaos.

So if you notice clutter becoming a frustration, steps to tame it for your situation may start you on you a journey of your own.


McMains S, Kastner S. “Interactions of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in human visual cortex.” Journal of Neuroscience. 2011 Jan 12;31(2):587-97. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228167

Doheny, K. “Clutter Control: Is Too Much ‘Stuff’ Draining You? Get your clutter under control, and your attitude and health just may improve, too.” WebMD Feature Archive, Reviewed on June 19, 2008. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/clutter-control

Vohs, Kathleen D., Joseph P. Redden, and Ryan Rahinel. “Physical Order Produces Healthy Choices, Generosity, Conventionality, Whereas Disorder Produces Creativity.” (2013) Psychological Science, 24 (9), 1860-1867. http://www.carlsonschool.umn.edu/faculty-research/facultyPM.aspx?x500=vohsx005

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Barber Spires, SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, West Region, spires.53@osu.edu

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