Tools to Control Paper Clutter – Part 1

Having the right kind of tools in your toolbox can make any job easier. You wouldn’t try to clear a clogged toilet with your hand, you’d use a plunger. It would be messy to boil pasta in a skillet so you use a deep pot with lots of water.

It also helps to have the right tools to control paper clutter!

Over the years I’ve figured out what tools work for me to help keep the paper piles from becoming mountains. In this three part blog series I’ll show what I use. It ranges from a timer (my favorite tool) to desk organizers, different color file folders, and containers to hold all those files. You probably already have some of these tools but you may not be using them in the best way. For me, a tool has to help eliminate the excuses that lead to procrastination.

Using a Timer

I learned long ago that a timer is the best tool in my toolbox. My tendency to overestimate how much time a certain task takes usually creates a lot of procrastination. It’s not an uncommon problem for many people. I’m not sure why this happens, but I guess it’s because the tasks aren’t fun, therefore excuses pop up quickly to avoid doing them. With the proper tools and systems in place it’s hard to justify any excuses.

I set my timer to do all kinds of things. It turns a boring task into a game.  Beat the timer becomes a challenge.

  • Clean the piles on my desk – 15 minutes
  • Pay bills – 30 minutes
  • File papers – 15 minutes
  • Work on priority papers that need a response – 30 minutes
    • phone calls
    • forms filled out and/or signed
    • email response to an issue or project

I also use the timer to control the time I spend on Social Media. It’s so easy to lose track of time that way!

The above timer is what I use at my desk. It’s lasted for years. You can use the timer on your phone but I like this kind of timer because I can preset 3 different times. I set them for 30 minutes, 15 minutes, and 5 minutes.

I found the current version of the West Bend timer I use on Amazon. The XREXS one also has good ratings and it a little less expensive. As I said above, you can always use the timer on your phone but I find it more convenient to always have a timer on my desk. (Disclosure – these are Amazon affiliate links)



Corralling Bills and Receipts

It’s so easy to put all the bills and receipts in a pile on the desk or counter. Before you know it the bills are lost in the large pile and are in danger of being paid late. Not only does that mess up your credit, it also cost you more money in late fees.

To avoid misplaced bills and receipts I use a very simple desk mail organizer. I put all my receipts in an envelope that sits in the front slot. When I get ready to pay a charge card bill I pull the receipts out to match them up with the charges.


When a bill comes in the mail I put it in the second slot. Each week it’s easy to check the bills to see which ones are due. This helps prevent lost bills or overdue bills.

I receive a few bills through email that are not set up for autopay.  Since I’m a visual person I have this fear I’ll forget to pay those bills on time. So I’ll put the basic information (Name, due date, amount) on a piece of paper then put that in the second slot of the organizer with the rest of the bills.

This one on Amazon is similar to the one I use. (Disclosure – this is an Amazon affiliate link)

Project Papers

Many of the papers that accumulate on our desks are ones that need some kind of action taken on them. Maybe a simple phone call is all that is needed. Or some forms need to be signed and sent back to a doctor, business, or school. It could be papers that deal with a home repair or remodeling project. Whatever those papers are related to, it’s important to keep them organized.

The best tool to organize all those papers is file folders. One folder is a “Priority Folder”. This is for those mini but important projects that only require one small action to complete. Usually that action only takes a few minutes but it time sensitive.

The projects that have more papers/info and require more than one simple action will get a file folder of their own. Any time a new paper comes in or an action is taken, I can easily put that info in the folder so it doesn’t get piled up on the desk somewhere. I usually keep a log sheet (a lined piece of paper) in each project folder to help me keep track of the date each action taken. I also list the “next” action that needs to be done. In other words, I create a little road-map of where I’ve been and where I’m going.

The project folders for ongoing projects are put in color folders. I use red ones for the Priority Folder, Taxes (for estimated and yearly tax papers), and Paperwork/Bills. These folders are checked at least weekly to make sure everything is up to date on them.

Ongoing and Temporary Project Folders

I use blue folders for all my ongoing work projects. These are my Weekly Newsletter, Blog posts, Website Improvement/maintenance, and Social Media actions. All of the red and blue folders have permanent labels written on them.


The temporary/one time project folders are in the plain file folders. Those folders are put in hanging file folders for the category they are related to; work, financial, home improvement/maintenance, health, etc. Since these are temporary projects I will file/shred/scan the papers from the folder when the project is complete. Then I reuse the folder for the next project. To help with the labeling issue I use removable labels each time I change the project. It’s a simple tool that lets me save money by not replacing the folders until they are well worn.

Here are similar products I found on Amazon. You can also find file folders in most discount stores and office supply stores. (Disclosure – these are Amazon affiliate links)


In Part 2 of this blog series I’ll show you how I keep all those folders organized so the folders themselves don’t become a cluttered mess.


The tools I’ve showed you help me keep the paper piles from building up. I’ve given you links to products that are the same or similar to the ones I use. The Amazon links are affiliate ones. Which means if you purchase any of the products above through the link I’ll make a small commission.

However, as I have always said, the most important thing is for you to find tools and systems that work for you, no matter where you get them. Eliminate the excuses that you don’t have time or don’t know where to put the papers. Once you fill your toolbox with the right tools, you’ll soon become proficient in minimizing those paper piles.

To a lighter load along the way.

Janice Scissors

Kitchen Cabinet Organizers I Use

Kitchen cabinets can be hard to keep organized. There are so many different items we use for cooking, baking, and eating that are stored in them. And if you don’t have a separate pantry, you probably store food items in them also.

With so many different items stored on those shelves it’s no wonder the cabinets become a nightmare of chaos. Since most of us don’t have huge kitchens with tons of cabinet space we have to come up with better ways to organize them.

Of course, no matter how much space you have, decluttering the items you never use will help tremendously.

Over the years I’ve learned that sometimes a simple tool can make the difference between an organized cabinet and a chaotic one.

Before my current kitchen was remodeled six years ago, I had a cabinet where I stored my cutting boards, baking sheets, serving trays, and some baking pans. Early on I knew I needed some way to keep those items organized or I would never be able to find what I needed when I needed it.

So within the first year or so when I moved into this house, I invested in some storage racks that held most of the items. Back in the early 1990’s those two racks cost me $11 a piece at one of the home goods stores. It turned out to be the best investment I made for my kitchen. Those two racks help keep the cabinet organized for over 20 plus years.


New Kitchen

Six years ago we remodeled kitchen. We made a few changes with the cabinet layout so everything shifted slightly. My new cabinet was not the same size so I had to get a new upright rack to hold my cutting boards. I also had a new slim cabinet to hold the cookie sheets and serving trays.



If you could use a rack like the ones above, I found these on Amazon (affiliate links). Be sure to measure the width of your cabinet before buying a rack. Like I said above, the old racks were too wide for my new cabinet.

Stock Your Home Large Rust-Free Durable Coated Steel Bakeware Organizer – Kitchen Cookware Rack for Dinnerware, Bakeware, Cookware, Cutting Boards, Pot, Pan Lids (White, 2 Pack) (Amazon affiliate link)


Other Storage Tools

Corner Storage Racks

To help my everyday dishes stay organized I found some corner wire racks to hold them. My old cabinets had the center post but the new ones don’t. Either way, those corner racks are a big help in keeping my dishes organized.

Old cabinets:

New cabinet:


If you think your cabinets would benefit from this kind of storage rack, then check out what I found on Amazon (affiliate link). As I said above, make sure to take measurements of your cabinet space, then check the measurements of the product.

Sunbeam 3-Tier Kitchen Corner Counter Shelf and Cabinet Organizer Heavy Duty Wire Shelf in White  (Amazon affiliate link)

Shelf Racks

I use these kinds of racks in many of my cabinets. Usually there is a lot of wasted space between each standard shelf in the cabinets. Of course you can stack your items higher and higher to fill the shelf space but you know what a disaster that will be!

This kind of shelf works well for the Corning-ware/Pyrex serving and cookware in the cabinets and also for storage of food items in the pantry or cabinet. It truly is amazing how something so simple can make such a big difference.  It even helps with the highest shelf in my cabinet where I have to get a step stool to reach the serving bowl. I don’t use that bowl that often but I can reach the Corning-ware dishes under the wire shelf that are used more often.


This is the most universal kind of shelf that will help double your storage space while still making it easy to get the items you need when you need them. Again, as I said above, make sure you measure your shelf space first then compare it to the product. There are different sizes available from different brands so I’m sure you can find a shelf that fits your cabinets.

ClosetMaid 3456 Large Shelf, White   (Amazon affiliate link)


There are many products to help us get organized in the kitchen. But don’t go buying every new product you see advertised. Do a little research and take a few measurements. Most important, think of how you will use the product to help you. Too often we buy an organizing product only to end up having that product add to our clutter/chaos.

I’ve included the above Amazon links for your convenience. But many of these products or similar ones can be found at other local or online stores. If you do purchase a product through these links I will earn a small commission. For that, I’ll thank you in advance.

My main goal is to help you learn, as I have, that some products really do make a difference. It’s easier to find what I need plus, I can’t come up with any excuses for not putting the items back where they belong. And that’s the biggest help for me.

To a lighter load along the way.


Renovating Can be Messy

Evolving, renovating, updating, etc. can be a good thing in our homes, life, and even this website.

Which is exactly what I’m currently doing. In other words, since this website has not changed much over the past 11 years I’m going to renovate it.

If you’ve ever done a home renovation then you know how messy and unorganized it can be. But it’s so worth it when finished.

Over the next couple of months you’ll see many changes going on here. Some will be permanent and others, well, they will be let go to make way for better changes. We’ll be playing around with design and functionality. So please pardon our mess while we try to make this website and blog a fantastic resource to help you declutter your home and life. …

5 Simple Tools To Cut Clutter

I’m always looking for simple ways to cut clutter from my home. It doesn’t come naturally for me. Even routines and habits don’t seem to stick if I’m not constantly focusing on them.

So over the years I’ve come up with tools and systems that help me stay on top of the clutter so it doesn’t get a chance to build up too much. When you use these 5 simple tools as part of your decluttering system, they help change your mindset about letting go of things. …

Can One Word Make A Difference?

Can changing one word make a difference in how motivated we are to take action?

In the field of organizing and decluttering we read different words to describe what we need to do to make our lives better. Although all these words have similar meanings each person has their favorites.  Some words are used more in the home setting. Others tend to be used more in the business setting.

Simplifying, Minimalizing, Decluttering, Organizing, Consolidating.