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The Paper Tiger Blog contains great ideas on better ways to stay organized, clear your desk, reduce stress and spend less time managing information.

Clear the Clutter to Reduce Stress

Do you feel like you are the only person that has clutter and don’t have any idea what to do about it? Well, you’re not alone!

If you Google-search ‘statistics on clutter’, you’ll see there are enough stats to fill up this page, but here are a few to note:

  • The average American receives 49,060 pieces of mail in their lifetime; 1/3 of it is junk mail.
    - National Association of Professional Organizers
  • 80% of papers and information that we file or keep, we never use or look at again.
    - Agency Sales Magazine
  • In the top 10 list of management wasters for the past 20 years is managing paper.
  • According to management engineers, misfiled documents cost between $61-122 to be retrieved. The cost is calculated by the value of the person looking for the file, the person interrupted to find the file, the space the file occupies, and the cost to recreate the file if it cannot be retrieved.
  • Americans waste 9 million hours per day searching for misplaced items.
    - American Demographics Society
  • The average U.S. executive wastes six weeks per year searching for missing information in messy desks and files. For an employee earning $60,000, that lost time costs the company a staggering $6,290.
    - The Wall Street Journal/Esselte Study
  • Office workers waste an average of 40% of their workday. Not because they aren’t smart, but because they were never taught organizing skills to cope with the increasing workloads and demands.
    - Wall Street Journal
  • The average desk worker has 36 hours of work on his or her desk and spends 3 hours per week sorting piles trying to find the project to work on next.
    - Richard Swenson, The Overload Syndrome, (NavPress, 1998)
  • Using the correct organizational tools can improve time management by 38%.
    - Mobile Technology Products
  • Unnecessary expenditures related to disorganization (last minute shopping at premium prices, buying duplicates of misplaced items, rush charges, late fees, finance charges, etc.) can cost as much as 15% to 20% of your annual budget.
  • 80% of the clutter in most homes is a result of disorganization, not lack of space.
  • 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside due to clutter and 32% only have room for one vehicle.
    – U.S. Department of Energy
  • Cleaning professionals say that getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40% of the housework in an average home.
    – National Soap and Detergent Association
  • A UCLA study confirms the direct correlation between a woman’s cortisol (stress) levels and the density of household objects.

With statistics like these, obviously you are not alone. Also obvious is the negative impact that clutter has in our lives. Knowing that productivity, budget, time and health are all affected, it is still overwhelming to think about how to declutter your world. So how do we fight the war against clutter?

Steps to Clear the Clutter

Vision for end result: You may only have one room that collects clutter. You know, the proverbial ‘junk room’. Or clutter may be only on your desk or in every room. Whatever your individual situation, you need a vision as to what you want. Some experts suggest taking photos of every room in your home to see a different perspective. It may be there are items cluttering a space that you are overlooking everyday. While you’re thinking about it, also think about why you want it. Sometimes it is not enough to see and feel the pain point in your life in order to do something about it, but when you can have a vision for how it could be better and why or how it would make you feel if it were better, then you will have a better chance of getting started with the determination to get it done.

Prioritize: Don’t feel like you have to clear all the clutter in one day! Remember, the clutter in your life and the habits that got it that way didn’t happen overnight. Make a list of each room or area in the order in which you want to get organized. Decide what area is stressing you the most, and start there. Then schedule time on your calendar, allotting the amount of time you want to spend for each room. Some areas, like the garage, might take more than a couple of hours in one day, so schedule a couple of hours in two different days. It might even be helpful to create a plan of action for an area that is too overwhelming – making a list of what items you want to organize first, then second, etc., in an area so that it won’t seem quite so overwhelming.

Goal/project management & schedule: Set your goal and schedule your time. How many times have you thought, ‘I really need to clean out the garage, but it will take so long, and I have to do this and that, before I tackle that huge job’, and it just never gets done? It may help you to break down a big project into individual steps. For example, schedule an hour to sort through and organize the sports equipment on one day, then on another day, take an hour to sort through and organize the tools. You probably set goals for your business life all the time. It’s the same concept with things you need to do to get organized. Creating new habits and a new perspective need reminders to stay on course. So really, actually put the different project times on your calendar just like any other event in your life.

Willpower for action: Once you have your projects scheduled, make a commitment to yourself that you will stick to it until your vision comes to fruition. You may need help along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may need to reschedule a project, because life happens, but make sure to reschedule it on your calendar.

  1. Take one room at a time.
  2. Envision how you want the end result.
  3. Make a list of individual steps to break down the project(s) so you won’t feel so overwhelmed.
  4. Decide how much time each step will take and put it on your calendar so you’ll have a reminder and you can stay on schedule.
  5. Determine what needs sorted, organized, boxed, given away, trashed, and filed. Remember, sometimes simply organizing what you have is not the answer. Sometimes you should decide to get rid of stuff. Refer back to the stats above!
  6. Decide what you would like to keep in the home or office, what you would like to box up and keep either in the basement, attic, a rented storage unit or some other type of storage space.
  7. Implement Paper Tiger. For each container, whether it be a box or hanging file folders in your desk drawers or filing cabinets, index or catalog each item by typing in item name and keywords into your Paper Tiger filing system database, including where the item will be stored. Any changes or moves you make to your physical items can also be adjusted or ‘transferred’ in your filing system database, and you’ll always be able to track your items.
  8. After each room in your home is organized, go through the same steps for your office envisioning your desired end result. Make a list of steps, how long it should take, and schedule the time on your calendar. You might start with the top of your desk. Find a ‘home’ for everything – the right place on your desk for each item that will help you work more efficiently. Take one stack of paper files at a time, and then one drawer at a time, indexing the items in your hanging file folders into Paper Tiger’s database as you go.
  9. If you get discouraged, go back to your vision. Remember why clearing the clutter will help you to feel less stressed, will save you time, will help you to be more productive….whatever your reason, remember your vision for the end result. Re-prioritize if necessary, and set a new goal, but get recharged and make it happen.
  10. Maintain! Take 5 minutes to go through the mail, and trash the junk, file what needs to be filed, and put items that need your action and bills to pay in your action or tickler file system. Take 15-30 minutes every day to walk through your home or office and put things away so clutter doesn’t build again.

How Implementing Paper Tiger Helps When Clearing Clutter

There are all those paper files, mail to go through, magazines, books, training binders, DVDs and video games to straighten up. When you remember that book you wanted to read while on vacation, it takes more time than it’s worth to find it! There are seasonal clothes to move to and from storage, if you can remember which bin in the basement that you’ve put them. You also have that treasured collection, some to showcase and some to store for safekeeping. And of course, the garage!

The good news is that you no longer have to procrastinate. By implementing Paper Tiger Online filing system software, you can now clear the clutter and feel confident to put things in their own place. Paper Tiger enables you to index physical items, and makes it easy to keep track of things. It will be so worth the time invested to clear clutter and get organized, because you won’t be wasting time searching for needed items. You’ll be able to find them again when you need them…in a matter of seconds with a quick search in the database.

If you had a folder for your car repairs and needed to refer to it, could you be certain you could find it when you needed it? Would you remember if you titled it car, auto, Honda or repairs? Did you actually get it filed or is it in that huge stack ‘to be filed’?

By implementing Paper Tiger filing system, you can type in all of those keywords and be able to find anything with a quick search in the database. The traditional alphabetical system has obviously worked, as long as you could recall the name you filed it under previously, that is – so maybe not as efficient as it could be. Using Paper Tiger Online filing system software takes all the confusion out of the equation, even if more than one person is using the system.

Paper Tiger can be used for paper files, but also for many other physical items. Anything that you can put a number onto, you can index with your filing system software. This is especially important for items that may be kept in more than one location. So, for example, if you are going to keep some collectible items on display and want to store some in your basement and others at a rented storage unit, this helps you recall which items ended up where. Each box would have an item number in your Paper Tiger database, and the contents of the box should be typed into the keywords section. All those items you keep cluttered in your home because you’re afraid if you put them away, you won’t remember where you put them, can now be stored somewhere else. When you need to retrieve an item, search your Paper Tiger database, and you’ll know where it is and what box number in seconds.

Go ahead, get started with the steps outlined above to clear the clutter. Before you know it, you’ll feel more organized and accomplished, and less stressed. You can live organized with peace of mind because you have a place for everything, you know where everything is, as well as where it goes when you need to put it back in its place. Clearing clutter will free up so much space and you can have your home and office back!


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