Ephemera . That's the fancy, technical term for all the stuff that works its way into our lives every day. Newspapers, catalogues and flyers; school newsletters and takeout menus all work their way into our homes and we need a method for dealing with them or we will be overwhelmed by it. Haven't you seen Hoarders? Paper is the biggest culprit. You've got to tame that Paper Monster, or he'll get you.


  1. 2 Trays : one for the mail, one for paper purgatory.
  2. Wastepaper basket.
  3. Shredder (optional) or shredding scissors.
  4. Letter Opener or paper knife (also optional). It seems old fashioned, but as long as there is still paper mail, you need one, unless you happen to like paper cuts.
  5. 12 to 24 matching 3-ring binders.

TIME: Anywhere from 30 minutes to all day, depending on how disciplined you are about staying on task (and not reading every single document you have)!


  1. First, establish a tray for the mail on your desk (or wherever you do your mail). Make a promise to yourself that it won't let it overflow.
  2. Next, you need a round file. What is a round file, you ask? It’s a wastepaper basket. I stand at my desk and do the mail each day and whatever isn't proper mail goes straight into the round file. That was my Father's little joke. "I filed it in the round file, Honey." Nothing goes into it except paper. And that gets emptied into recycling.
  3. MAKE A SCAN, STAN! One of my favorite apps is called Tiny Scanner. I use it almost daily. You just snap a photo of your important documents and it instantly highlights it makes a high-res digital version for you to store in the cloud! I do this constantly because Mr. Handsome is a paper lover and I *may* have thrown out our original marriage certificate during one of my Feng shui purges. This app makes us both feel more comfortable.
  4. PAPER PURGATORY: The second tray is for those pieces of paper that are too important to throw away, but not important enough to deal with right away.
  5. BINDERS: For the documents you really do need to keep, I get matching 3-ring binders from any office supply store. I tolerate them because I get cute matching spine holders printed on cardstock with our initials and a place for writing what's inside each one (the boys' immunization records, car documents, tax stuff, etc.). Of course, we have about fifty of these, but I'm working on whittling them down to twelve. It's still an awful lot of paper, but at least they're all uniform. Handsome gets to keep his papers and the binders are lined up neatly on a bookshelf closet so I don't have to see them. It's our paper détente!
  6. Two words: PAPERLESS BILLING. I dedicate time regularly to make sure I’ve selected a paperless billing option for all of our bills. This can take a while so don't do them all in one go. Grab your energy bill, make a sandwich and get stuck into it. It'll be worth it, promise.
  7. Lastly, do yourself a favor and download apps like Unsubscriber or Unroll.Me to de-clutter your electronic inbox. Easy-peasy.

This is a big activity, so I’d save this one for the weekend. Once you get a system in place for managing the paper and all of the temporary stuff that floats into your home, everything else will be a lot easier to manage.

Well done, keep going!