Paper Clutter to Miller Organized in Three Steps

Jan 18, 2022 | Paper Organizing

Three Steps to End Paper Clutter

Going from paper clutter to Miller Organized takes only three steps. One of my first clients had 20 years of paperwork scattered all around the house. Working through those piles is how I created my backward method for paper organization, and it is still the method I use to this day. 

The Backward Method for Paper Organization

Every home has two types of paper clutter. The new papers flow daily from school, work, the US mail, action items from your inbox, volunteering, bills, letters, cards, invitations, etc. Then there are the piles of paper accumulated over days, weeks, months, even years. Combining these all together is a very bad idea. Instead, begin with managing anything new that comes in today. Right now. Ready? Let’s do this!

Step One – Miller Organized Starts Today

The minute any new papers touch your hands, make a decision. Is this garbage, recycling, shredding, an action item, a pending item, a reference item, or sentimental?

Pro Tip: The easiest thing you can do is make sure that trash and recycling go immediately into the bin and shredding is completed right away.

Step Two – Create a Three-Step Miller Organized Command Center

A command center is a place where all your papers temporarily live. Tabletop file boxes are the perfect size to build a command center. Within the file box, create these four hanging files;

Action – This is where you put anything that requires you to do something. Fill out a form, make a phone call, pay a bill, whatever action you need to take; it all lives here until it is done.

Pending – This is where information lives in a “pending” mode until an action is completed. You’ve made a phone call and are waiting on a resolution or a callback. You buy girl scout cookies from the neighbor and are waiting for them to be delivered. Upcoming forms for a Dr. appointment. Anything you need to hold onto while “waiting” lives here. 

Reference – Anything you want to keep and refer to later. Once you have a complete file system, you will file papers right away. Put those papers here while you build a more permanent system.  

Sentimental – This is where all of your long-term, meaningful papers live until you can create a permanent home. Items like photos, clippings, invitations, notes, and cards. 

Pro Tip: Command Centers only work if you stay on top of them. Schedule no less than one time per week to take action on each file. You don’t want your command center to turn into another pile of shame.

Example: The Wedding Invitation

A wedding invitation arrives in the mail. Place it in the action file until you have checked the calendar, sent in your RSVP, purchased, and sent a gift/card. Once you have completed all action steps, the invitation can go into your pending file. Before the event, you can reference it for all the day-of details for the wedding, reception, time, etc. Once the event has passed, you can put the invitation in the Reference file, Sentimental file, toss, recycle, or shred. 

Pro Tip: Take a picture of all the wedding details and keep it in your phone for a handy reference on the day of the event.

Step Three – Do Your Homework:

Spend the next couple of weeks building and maintaining your Miller Organized command center. Focus on the decision-making action steps and follow through by making sure each paper lands in their home. 

Pro Tip: Remember that freedom from paper clutter requires time and self-discipline. Stay with it! Miller Organized is on the other side.

If you need additional support, Miller Organized can help. Booking a discovery session is only a few clicks away.



Want more information on how to get organized, find your motivation and create the home of your dreams?

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