Hey Friend,

Does this sound familiar?

You’ve been trying to tackle the paper clutter in your home or office, but no matter how much you try, it just keeps piling up.

You’ve been told to simply throw everything away, but that just leaves you feeling overwhelmed and anxious, not to mention the guilt of potentially throwing away something important.

It’s time to stop the cycle of ineffective solutions and start implementing strategies that work. Join me in episode 07 as I compare the visual of imagining paper like a river and share action steps that will help you reduce paper coming into your home.

Finally, get a handle on paper in your home and your office so you can increase productivity and focus, ending all the mind drama, spinning, and overwhelm!

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Identify the sources of paper coming into your home and office.
  • Envision paper like a river and picture it flowing through your home and eventually LEAVING.
  • Realize the significance of shedding unnecessary paper for a stress-free, uncluttered atmosphere.
  • Acquire specific tools to opt out of unwanted mail and email subscriptions easily.
  • Have a plan of action to implement immediately.

The key moments in this episode are:

02:01 – The Flow of Paper,
05:11 – Reducing Paper,
08:02 – Managing Email,
12:37 – Recommended Tools,
14:29 – Creating a Paper Management Process,
14:54 – Call to Action,

Your Reducing Paper Expert,

Tracy Hoth's Signature

a flowered graphic with text overlay that says, "get rid of your paper"

Resources Mentioned:

WebPage with all these Paper Resources
Opt-Out Prescreen
3 Things To Stop Doing To Organize Paper (Blog Post)

FREE File Naming Formula Cheatsheet
Get Time Freedom with a Systemized and Organized Business 
FREE Workshop: 3 Secrets to Organize Your Digital Files 

Connect with me:


Subscribe and Listen:

If you’re loving what you’re learning on this podcast every week – the strategies, how-tos, and time-saving ideas to set up your organized and systemized business so you can work less and scale – please follow, rate, and review by heading to Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Transcript with time stamps:

I have paper everywhere. My office is disorganized. How do I organize my physical space around me? Our home has so much paper in it. So I’m going to do a three-part series on organizing paper.

First, how to think about paper and how to reduce the paper coming into your life. Second, a step-by-step system for processing your paper. And then third, what do you do with all the old paper? How do you set up your files? Exactly?

Tell me what I should do. Let’s get into part one. Are you ready to work less, feel more organized and productive, streamline repetitive tasks, and implement systems that allow your coaching business to run smoothly even without you? If so, you’re in the right place.

Welcome to the Organized Coach Podcast, your go-to source for practical tips and solutions. I’m your host, Tracy Hoth, a professional organizer, certified life coach, simplifying expert, and most of all, a down-to-earth fellow coach just like you. No matter if you think you’re missing the organizing gene, have ADHD, or just love anything organizing, I’m here to help you become an organized coach with a business that works for you. Pull up a seat and let’s get started. Okay.

You have paper all around your office. You have piles of paper. I mean, what could it be? In your business, you have things you’ve been to, certifications, things you’ve printed out, ideas jotted down on notes, notes from a call that you take, programs that you’re in, ideas that you’ve printed out, ripped out of something, post-it notes, just anything. All the different papers in your life.

So I like to start first by visualizing, a visual example. I love thinking about paper like a river. Think of a river. Where does a river start? Springs come into it.

There may be a variety of sources, like hills or mountains, lakes, snow melt, and heavy rainfall as the river flows downstream. Other streams known as tributaries I’m reading this. May drain into the channel and add to the volume of the water. Most rivers begin high up in the mountains and hills of the world, and then gravity pulls them down, and rivers eventually end up flowing into the oceans. Rivers have a variety of sources that the water comes from.

It runs through the countryside, and it’s held in place by banks along the sides of the river, and then it eventually flows out into the ocean. So when you think about your paper, where are the sources or what are the sources of the paper coming in? I mean, is it you printing things off? Is it you bringing things home from work or home from conferences? Is it you with several notepads and notebooks and loose papers and mail?

Is it kids and their stuff? I mean, where is all the paper coming from? Catalogs, magazines, or newspapers. So just think about your specific home. If you’re in your house, can you look around and just see where is it coming from?

You can even write these things down and just look at where the paper is coming from. And then, of course, we want to look at how we’re going to reduce that paper, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. But think of the flow of the paper. So it comes into your house from various sources. Did I mention mail?

Mail is one of them too. So it comes into your house and then where does it go? Does it get piled up in a certain spot? Is it thrown all over? Do you have anything that you do that processes this paper on a consistent, regular basis?

Then once you decide what you’re going to keep, you probably recycle some of it, then you probably keep some of it, and then that goes in a pile. Where does that go? And then after that, there’s probably some that you need to keep long term. Where does that go? And then there’s probably some that you keep temporarily, and then it exits your house eventually.

Where does paper and how does paper flow through your office and your house? Now that we can see it flowing? Do you know what happens with the river? Sometimes we have a flood, right? The bank breaks and the river overflows its banks, and then the damage is caused.

And that’s why I like to picture the river. Maybe that’s the case in your house. The paper has overrun the banks. Or maybe you don’t even have any banks or any systems in place or any flow going. It’s now just caused damage by having piles of paper everywhere, which then overwhelms your brain and seems like a ginormous project.

And so you don’t take any action. So where is it in your house? Where is it in your life? In your office? What’s happening with the paper?

First, the main thing is to reduce paper coming into your house because the main goal when you think about paper is, how can I get rid of this? Where can I get rid of it? How can I let it go? How can I not even have it come in? If you only had two pieces of paper coming into your house a week, think of how easy it would be.

It’s so amazing. I think about my kids in that generation. They’re 19 to 24. And that generation literally keeps no paper. I have made, as an organized mom, made a little portable file for them to keep some of their important papers in.

But they literally don’t keep any paper. They don’t have any paper coming to them. They’re pretty much all digital, and they don’t have to deal with any of this. I mean, there are probably some that do, but for the most part, they do not have a lot of paper. And what they do get still a lot of it’s still coming to our house, which it’s hardly anything.

It’s like two things a week. And so if that was you, it wouldn’t be a problem to process the paper and keep track and keep organized with your paper. So how can you reduce paper coming in? I have a blog post called Three Things to Stop Doing to Organize Paper, and I’ll link it in the show notes. If you want to reduce paper coming in, there are some super simple things to do.

One of them would be to stop ripping out things from magazines and cookbooks. I don’t know that anybody does that anymore, but cute calendars quotes you want to remember, anytime you rip something out, then you need to organize it. So how can you not? And how can you stop ripping things from places and bringing them into your house or keeping them? The second thing to stop doing is to stop printing.

I know a lot of people that print things out, and maybe that’s you. Maybe it’s not. I still like when I’m participating in a course, to print parts of it out to keep it. I’m trying to stop the habit of doing that. I just sometimes want to see it and want to be able to write on it, which is totally fine, but that just means then you have to keep track of it, and then you have to have something in place to organize it.

Stop printing as much as possible as you go forward from today, from listening to this, I want you to stop printing. Or before you print, think to yourself, could I live without printing this? Could I make a folder in my email to hold this temporarily, permanently, whatever it is? Could I create a folder in my organized digital files where it makes sense for this to go? Will I know where to find it when I need it?

Ask yourself that before printing. And then the third thing is to stop writing out notes. What I’ve started doing in a mastermind that I’m in is I have a Google Doc. I put the date of our meetings, and I type notes in that Google Doc.

Now, I, of course, want to write notes on paper, but then I have to go back and do something with those notes. So I’m trying to remind myself, and I’ve been doing pretty well at this, at taking the notes in the Google Doc and knowing that that’s there. I put it (if you listened to the first episode and you’ve created your digital folders) under Education Paid and then the name of the program. So stop writing as much as possible. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a journal or you can’t use a planner or whatever it is you use or you can’t have paper that you write stuff on, but you have to have a plan in place of what you’re going to do with that paper.

One of the things that I love doing with paper and things that I want to write, things that I want to jot down, I’m starting to put them more into my appointments. So if I have an appointment on my calendar for a call that’s coming up that I’m leading, I will take and put notes into the description of that appointment so that I don’t write it on a piece of paper and lose track of it. The other thing I do, that I have done this for years, is to have one clipboard with one pad of paper in it. And I use that clipboard. I have it beside me usually all the time, and I might jot a note down on that, but I also, then, process it.

So I’m going to throw those papers away. I’m not keeping them, but the information on there I’m going to put where I can find it when I need it (if I still need to keep it at all). So I do have my clipboard. That has been something I’ve used for years and years to write notes on, but my goal is to not have 20 notebooks, 20 post-it note stacks, and have things written in places I can’t find them. I know if I’ve written a note recently, it’s going to be on my clipboard.

And then I go through that. It’s funny, I have this little process that I’ll go through each page of that notepad if I’ve not cleaned it out for a while and I’ll put things where they need to go, and then I’ll crumple up that piece of paper, and then I’ll have a little pile of crumpled up pieces of paper next to me. So I do still tend to write and jot things down, but I’m working on eliminating that process. The other part of it is to reduce what paper comes into your life. So I have the one thing that I recommend everyone do.

It’s called OptOutPrescreen.com. It’s the official consumer credit report industry website to accept and process customer requests to opt out of firm offers for credit or insurance. There’s OptOutPrescreen.com. You can go on. There’s also a phone number, 888-56-7868, that you can call in and do it.

I do not receive any credit card offers or any insurance offers. I mean, I’ve reduced my mail. We do not get that much mail. And I think it’s because of this. I’ve done this seven years ago and I think it lasts five years.

And so a couple of years ago I resubmitted it’s free. And you will stop getting all of that. So for sure, go do that. And then there’s also DMAChoice.org that you can go on to reduce the mail or stop the mail that you don’t want to get and free up your time in your clutter. There’s CatalogChoice.org for you to go in and cancel catalogs you get in the mail.

Maybe we get one or two catalogs, but just think, we can search online to find something. If we decide we need it, we can go specifically to that website and buy it. If you get a catalog in the mail, what I think happens is you skim through it. You’re tempted to buy stuff and bring more stuff into your life. So why not just stop getting catalogs?

You’ll stop having that pile, you’ll stop spending time going through it, and you’ll stop any temptation to buy something that you don’t necessarily need. If you need it, you can go straight to the website and purchase it. And then in regard to your email, which is like mail, right, to reduce the amount of email coming in, you can go to unroll.me and that will get you unsubscribed from different subscriptions and emails coming in. The other one my client just told me about and showed me is Mailstrom.Co.

So if your email is full, you need to use this service. You can sort it in different ways, and then you can hit one button to unsubscribe. It’s so amazing if you get a lot of emails. So I definitely recommend that she loves using that above a certain amount it costs. But what would be great is if you would use that service for one month.

That would be your deadline, and you’d go in and you would reduce the amount of email coming in. And you could do it quickly because of the way it sorts and unsubscribe. Okay, so those are ways you can reduce mail coming into your home and office. How I want you to take action today is to begin to think about how paper flows through your home. Where does it come from, where does it go next, and what do you do with it then?

How do you process it, where does it go temporarily? Where does it go permanently and how does it flow out of your home? Don’t say it’s all a mess. I can guarantee that you have some sort of system. Remember from the systems episode that you do have some sort of system in place, but there are parts of it we may want to improve.

So be thinking about the flow of paper through your home. And then the second thing I want you to do is to reduce take one action to reduce the paper coming into your home. Will you stop printing? Go to OptOutPrescreen.com? Unsubscribe from emails?

Is it to cancel catalogs that you get in the mail@catalogchoice.org? So there are a lot of options for you, but I want you to just choose one and take action on that today. Next week, we’re going to talk about how to process the paper that you have. So your paper comes in, where does it go and how do you process it step by step? And how often do you process it and how do you put that on your calendar?

How do you make a process for that that you’re going to follow to keep track of paper? Then the week after, we’ll talk about where your paper goes. What do we do with all this old paper? I’ll share some clients’ stories about what I’ve done in the past with them, what’s worked, and how do we set up files to keep track of the things that we need permanently and the things that we need temporarily.

Thanks for listening to the episode. Please share this episode with your coaching bestie and tell hang me on Instagram at Tracyhoth. And of course, I would be so grateful if you could subscribe and leave a written review on Apple podcasts. It’s the number one way you can thank me. To thank you, go grab the file naming formula cheat sheet and watch the workshop replay Three Secrets to Organizing Your Digital Files.

Both are linked in the show notes. Until next time, have a beautiful week.

smiling professional woman from The Organized Coach Podcast "Is paper a problem"

Tracy Hoth