Easy Ways to Eliminate Paper Clutter for Better Showings


This post is written by expert home stager, Anne Nowak of Scotch House Interiors

Everyone has paperwork that needs to be taken care of and, if you’re like me, it’s not your favorite task. Allowing those papers to pile up, however, is an emotional and mental strain and can even cost you money. Loose/unorganized stacks of paper = missed deadlines, lost opportunities and late fees! Plus, piles of paper all over your counter tops and in nooks and crannies don't exactly help you put  your best foot forward if you're trying to sell your home. It's best to eliminate paper clutter before showing your home.

One solution is to go paperless as much as possible. Change your bill notifications to email rather than snail mail, and sign up for auto-pay options! This cuts paper clutter in half right off the bat. Another great tip is to unsubscribe/block places you shop from and find coupons and catalogs online instead. You can eliminate junk mailings and get on a national "do not mail" list with sites like ecocycle.org and directmail.com.  

Once you make it through that round of elimination, here are my 3 tips for clearing paper clutter and keeping those counters clear:


The first step in this process is basically just creating 3 piles and sorting items by category: recycle, shred and save. I do the first part (recycle) immediately after I get my mail. Before any paper mail even leaves my hands I walk straight to my recycle bin. I leaf through finding the unneeded pieces and deposit about 1/3rd of my pile directly in the bin! Next is shred. If you have a home shredder take those items straight from your spot at the recycle bin to the shredder and now you’ve dealt with 2/3 of your pile. If not, create a folder with items that need shredding and use your shredder at work or a friend's home at a later date.  Simple process of elimination leaves you with your last “save” category to organize. 



First, label 3 empty file folders: NOW, 10 MINUTES A DAY and FILE.  Next quickly sort each piece of paper from your save pile into the appropriate folder:

  • Bills and any paperwork that requires immediate attention (tag renewals, insurance paperwork, etc.) go into the NOW folder.
  • Items that require action but are not immediate (letters to respond to, subscription renewals, paperwork without a deadline, etc.) go into the 10 MINUTES A DAY folder.
  • Items that simply need to be filed away for safe keeping or later go into the FILE folder.

Once you have completed sorting, you can set the 10 MINUTES A DAY folder and FILE folder aside for later and start on the items in your NOW folder. Once you have the papers in order start with the top item and take immediate action — pay the bill, etc. As items are completed move that paper into either the FILE folder to file later or place it in the shredder or recycle. 

When the NOW folder items are COMPLETE you can begin working on the items in the 10 MINUTES A DAY folder. Usually by the time I have finished the NOW items I am ready for a break so I put the folders away until the next morning when I will spend 10 minutes working on the TEN MINUTES A DAY folder. The key is to keep the folder on your desk and spend just a few minutes a day dealing with the papers inside it. Setting a timer is a great way to stay on task.

Once the TEN MINUTES A DAY folder is taken care of you can spend a few minutes filing everything in the FILE folder.



You need to sort and systematize every time new mail comes into your home and you’ll avoid those daunting counter and desk pile-ups. A discernable organizational system is not out of grasp if you can SORT, SYSTEMIZE and SUSTAIN!

When you sell your home with Nail & Key Real Estate, you get a free two-hour consultation with expert stager Anne (who wrote this post!) on us!