Decluttering and Organizing All things Paper: Week Five of {Sparking Joy}

Hello! And a very happy Sunday my friends!

Can you believe we’ve reached Week Five of our {Sparking Joy} series?!

I’ve teamed up with an amazing group of bloggers to share our journeys as we rid our lives of clutter!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: A Journey to Sparking Joy



A Journey to Sparking Joy with:

Anderson & Grant
Making it in the Mountains
DIY Passion
Dwelling in Happiness
Zevy Joy
Cupcakes & Crinoline
Lost in the Found
The Happy Housie



Turns out the real magic to tidying up doesn’t come from clever storage ideas or organizing tricks, it all starts with the act of decluttering. Makes sense. The less you have to keep organized, the less work it will be to keep it all in it’s place.

Easier said than done.

Following the principles outlined in the life-changing magic of tidying up, we’ll be working our way through the entire house to get rid of anything and everything that doesn’t spark joy. The ultimate goal of course is to simplify our life. Follow along as we share our journey to declutter … who knows, maybe it will even inspire you to start one of your own too!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: A Journey to Sparking Joy
*This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.*


My journey to {sparking joy} so far:

Week One: How Decluttering can Change your Life
Week Two: Decluttering the Closet
Week Three: Decluttering Make-up, Shoes & Accessories
Week Four: Decluttering Books (& a million other things!)

Papers taking over your house?  I'm sharing my tips for decluttering and organizing paper for week five of my {Sparking Joy} series.
Week Five is all about organizing all things paper, which inevitably included a ton of sorting and purging.

In fact, Kondo states early on in this section of the book that her method of sorting papers is to throw them all away! I must admit, I had to read and reread that line at least ten times.

Just throw them all away.

It’s just such a blunt, black & white, no nonsense, no excuses sort of statement. Which, I’m learning, is Kondo’s thing. I suppose it’s what makes her method so successful. But, it’s still a bit of a shock to my system each time I read her simplified take on things.

But, throw them all away I did (well, mostly anyway)!

After all, papers are not often a source of joy (aside from the crafts adorning our fridge).


I recommend you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely.

– The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

So, I gathered the piles of paper from almost every room in my home (how does that even happen?!), placed them all in a pile on the floor and, coffee in hand, I started sorting through each and every one.

Papers taking over your house?  I'm sharing my tips for decluttering and organizing paper for week five of my {Sparking Joy} series.
It took hours.

And through it all, the room looked as if a tornado had run through it!

I started by going through our basket of manuals and warranties, which seemed to contain an owner’s manual for every single appliance or electronic we’ve ever owned.

Papers taking over your house?  I'm sharing my tips for decluttering and organizing paper for week five of my {Sparking Joy} series.
I can’t say I’ve ever really thought about why I’ve kept them all. Each time we purchase something, it’s just so automatic to toss the manual into that basket. But, here’s the thing: when I stopped to think about it, I realized that my go-to when I have a question about something we own (which admittedly doesn’t happen very often), is to simply look it up online. I don’t think I’ve ever once opened up one of those manuals. Into the recycling bag they went and I swear, I had the biggest smile on my face!

There were a few warranty cards in that basket as well, though only one hadn’t yet expired, so instead of keeping that big old basket for just one little warranty card, I created a file folder to tuck it away in (more on that later).

Next, I took on the random papers that had collected into piles around our house. These consisted mainly of school notes, house plans, shopping receipts, some paperwork for our vehicles – mostly things that needed to be dealt with, but hadn’t been yet. Anything that didn’t fall into the three categories mentioned in the quote above, went into the recycling.

Rondom paperwork also included a handful of business cards that I had for some reason decided to store in a small ziplock bag. Why I was saving any of these is beyond me – whenever I needed to get in touch with any of these people or companies, I always looked the number up online. I can’t say that I ever, even once, looked at any of these, so into the recycling bin they went too.

Thankfully we hadn’t collected a ton of random paperwork to go through as we’ve always been big proponents of paperless everything whenever we can – most of our bills, flyers and even Carson’s school newsletters are set up through online accounts or delivered through email. It’s always been an environmental concern for us, but turns out it came in handy for keeping things tidy too (at least I was doing something right!).

I did however have quite the collection of important documents in that big plastic file bucket that needed a good look through. Turns out that, though most were important papers and had been worth saving at one point in time, many were expired or irrelevant (for years even). I ended up with a tower of documents like old insurance policies, expired contracts, & banking information for accounts that we hadn’t held for years now that needed to be shredded.

Which left me with a relatively small pile of paperwork I needed to keep. Yay me!

With the decluttering done, it was time to get those keepers put away again.

I organized everything into broad categories such as House, Vehicles, Taxes, etc., making hanging file folders for each. I also created a folder for each member of our family.

Papers taking over your house?  I'm sharing my tips for decluttering and organizing paper for week five of my {Sparking Joy} series.
Then, I divided each of these even further. With the hopes of making everything as easy to find as possible, I created sub-categories with traditional file folders to organize groups of papers together within each hanging file folder.

Papers taking over your house?  I'm sharing my tips for decluttering and organizing paper for week five of my {Sparking Joy} series.
For example, I created sub categories such as renovation plans, house insurance, mortgage & property taxes, warranties, etc. which I placed into the hanging folder that I had labelled House.

Papers taking over your house?  I'm sharing my tips for decluttering and organizing paper for week five of my {Sparking Joy} series.

Papers taking over your house?  I'm sharing my tips for decluttering and organizing paper for week five of my {Sparking Joy} series.
I continued until each and every piece of paper had a home that made sense.

And now everything has a place and it’s SO easy to find what I need!

Papers taking over your house?  I'm sharing my tips for decluttering and organizing paper for week five of my {Sparking Joy} series.

Papers taking over your house?  I'm sharing my tips for decluttering and organizing paper for week five of my {Sparking Joy} series.
The thing is, I had at one time been fairly organized with it all, but obviously things had gotten out of hand so, my plan this time around is to go through a file folder each time I add something to it, disposing of anything I no longer need. Hopefully this will help keep things as organized as they are today!

I also took the time to get our desk (which just underwent a major makeover!) organized too, getting rid of all of those things I no longer needed and making a place to store the rest.

Papers taking over your house?  I'm sharing my tips for decluttering and organizing paper for week five of my {Sparking Joy} series.

Papers taking over your house?  I'm sharing my tips for decluttering and organizing paper for week five of my {Sparking Joy} series.
This week was was absolutely huge for me! Three big bags of papers left our house this week. That’s a ton of clutter not only out of our house, but out of our life!

With each new week of this journey, I’m not only feeling lighter and less weighed down by things I just don’t need in my life – I’m somehow feeling stronger, empowered and more in control of everything!

I can’t believe the difference is making for us all!

Papers taking over your house?  I'm sharing my tips for decluttering and organizing paper for week five of my {Sparking Joy} series.
Be sure to pop back next week as I share the good, the bad and the embarrassing of my journey to declutter my Kitchen!

The life-changing magic of tidying up.

Have you heard of it? Read it? Believe in it?

What are you waiting for? Go grab your copy now and join in the fun as we embark on A Journey to #SparkingJoy and make the KonMari Method work for us!



Did you miss something? Catch my entire journey to {sparking joy} below:

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: {A Journey to Sparking Joy}


Happy Notes copy    

37 thoughts on “Decluttering and Organizing All things Paper: Week Five of {Sparking Joy}

    1. Yes! I’ve never actually tried to work with an online system, but just getting it all organized, up to date and in one box makes all the difference! Thanks LZ!

  1. Gosh I really need to do this – get my household paperwork in order before Christmas – definitely beyond out of control right now! Thank you for this post – you’ve inspired me to sort it out! 🙂

  2. Kristi, I’ve really enjoyed reading this series — the fact that you got your husband to help sort out your master closet made you my hero! And it was not just you — the folding instruction had me perplexed — and I worked at the Gap in college, and they were ALL about the folding! haha Can’t wait to see how you conquer your kitchen! Take care.

  3. I Love the idea about throwing away the product manuals, you are SO RIGHT! I always just look up what I need on the internet. Great ideas! I’m glad I was your neighbor at Making Memories Mondays.

    1. I feel like it could take me a life time to actually make it through everything, but it’s truly amazing how freeing every little step is along the way! Thanks so much Antonia!!!

  4. Ooh, paper…I need to start working on this more. My husband and I are “fairly” good at recycling things we don’t need right away, but there are definitely papers that make it past our first purge. Did you include cards and letters in the paper category or do they come later with mementos?

    1. I feel we’re the same – most of our bills and paperwork are recycled as soon as we’re done with them, but as you can see, we definitely had a ton we could get rid of! We’re saving cards etc. to work through at the end with mementos, hopefully it will be a bit easier to sort through once we’ve made our way through everything else first!

  5. I am loving this series! Since I’m moving into a new house and setting up my office space, I’ve been trying to come up with better ways to organize and manage all the papers. It’s always such a good feeling to get rid of a ton of papers, isn’t it? I love how you just threw the manuals away. You are right, I always look up stuff online and never touch those manuals. What a waste of space!

    1. Right?! How have I never thought to do that before? It felt so good to see them go!!! Here’s hoping your all settled in to your new house soon Jenna!!!

  6. Woah, this looks amazing. paperwork is my nemesis, my Achilles heel! I have hills and small mountains of the stuff and never quite find what is at the bottom. I actually feel that I could dedicate a day and do this. I imagine the euphoric feeling afterwards would be worth the pain!

  7. Last year I went through a decluttering period with my closet. It took me nearly a month to go through everything, but I ended up donating 500 pieces of clothing! It never occurred to me how much stuff I had, because I always feel like I have nothing to wear! Sharing your post on Twitter!

    1. Isn’t that the truth?! I think it just gets so overwhelming when there are so many choices – those pieces you just don’t like totally overshadow the ones that you love! Sounds like you made some amazing progress! Thanks so much Ashley!

  8. No matter how hard I try to clean and declutter, paper clutter is the worst! It’s so hard to keep on top of! I enjoyed reading how you are managing it and am going to try to check out the book that you are reading to help you! Visiting as a guest cohost from Turn It Up Tuesday!

    1. Thanks Nancy! The book has done a great job of making the choice to keep things very black & white, which is exactly what I’ve needed! Good luck!!!

  9. OMGosh we have just finished moving and the amount of paper that was overtaking the house was amazing! I did exactly what you suggested and Threw It OUT! It took what seemed like forever but just like you said I realized I was saving manuals, pamphlets and such that I most often go online for so why keep it right? Great Post! Thanks so much for sharing it with us over at Turn It Up Tuesday 🙂

    1. Oh good!!! That’s SO awesome Tiffany! I’m SO happy you found it helpful! Isn’t it crazy the stuff we choose to keep in our lives without even thinking about why? Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. Paper is my personal kryptonite! My two children, who are actually young adults, still live with me so there is their personal papers along with my own. On top of that, my day job is in sales and I work from home so I have all of those files and papers too, plus I have to save receipts to submit expenses. It all adds up somehow into piles of paper.

    1. Oh Vanessa, I feel for you, but I suppose keeping things to the bare minimum you can and then finding the best way to keep it all organized will help to keep things in check. Good luck!

  11. Amazing! Pinned and tweeted. You always bring the most amazing creations to our party. Thank you! I hope to see you again, this Monday at 7 pm. It wouldn’t be a party without you! Lou Lou Girls

  12. Enjoyed reading your blog for the first time. I’ve pinned you and registered to receive you amazing information. YOU are my twin but a lot younger! Organizing, designing and just about everything started out some where in my youth and at 58 I’m still going. Love these new methods and it has even taken me further. On pinterest I have a board named “Organization is my middle name”. Used to drive my co-workers crazy as I would immediately start organizing, refining and explaining that taking a little time to do it would saving and searching in the long run.
    Plus, I totally believe that clutter can make you unhealthy, tired, not inspired or open to new things.
    So, here’s a big questions that I haven’t addressed ……I painted in high school so I have water colors and acrylics that are just stored in a closet. I will never put up as they aren’t my style anymore. My adult children won’t either or would I want them to clutter their homes more than they already are. I’ve pictures of some and this last year a all class reunion featured them in a collage poster. Is it time to donate them and realized that I now have a poster around 15×18 that will be enough…..I feel fine with this….what do you think?

    1. First of all, thank you so, so much for your kind comments! This has been hugely eye-opening for me to see that I’m not as alone in all of this as I sometimes feel! So, thank you!

      Secondly, I’ve been thinking on this the last couple of hours and I just don’t really have much in terms of advice about what to do with your old art. I can say that we have collected a ton of art from my hubby’s Grandparents and, though most of it is piled in a corner of our spare room closet and we pay insurance on it each year, we just can’t bring ourselves to get rid of it. The difference here is that this art you have is yours, created by you, with sentimental value that only belongs to you – to me it sounds like you’ve already made a decision and I think if you’re comfortable with that, then you should just go for it. Consider it a gift that you’ll be giving, knowing that generations to come will not be weighed down by your possessions that they don’t feel right about getting rid of. I do want to say that if you are still feeling attached to them, please continue to think on things so that you don’t do something irreversible that you may regret. Hope this helps Maggie! Good luck!!!

I can't wait to hear your thoughts?