Paper Clutter Be Gone!

Photo: see end of article whose paper clutter this is

Are you like the majority of people who have listed organizing at the top of your resolutions list, right behind being healthier?  At the very top of that organizing wish list are the dreaded papers. We get papers in the mail, we get papers from our kids, we get papers from our work, we get papers that we create by printing off something to read later, we get papers when we go to the doctor, we get paper in the form of receipts. All of this can be too overwhelming so we keep it all simply because we don’t know what we should keep. Yikes! Of course we are overwhelmed. I call my paper piles a geological time project. You can tell how long ago I received something by how far in the pile it is. Did I get it four weeks ago? Then go down 7 inches!

Here are some fun facts:

  • If you have a four drawer filing cabinet, it can hold 18,000 pages when full (
  • Did you know that 80% of the stuff we file we never look at again? (
  • 23% of adults say they pay their bills late, and get late fees because they simply loose the bill. (
  • The use of office paper has tripled since the birth of the computer. (

But there is help out there. There are ways to finally get a handle on that paper clutter. As we all know, the hardest step is the first one. For example I use to hate going to the gym. But once I get there, it is fine. It is the act itself of making the time and rolling out of a warm bed in the morning that is hard. Participating in an exercise class or getting on the treadmill is the easy part. Telling yourself you look fine in your old sweats and nobody is looking at you is the hard part. Once again, the actual doing, isn’t so hard. The same thing can be said with paper organizing. Once you start, it isn’t that bad. But the piles are overwhelming and we simply do not know where to start. The goal is to just start, but how can we start?

1. Set a timer for 10 minutes and stay focused until the timer goes off. Take a break and repeat.

2. Grab a friend and you hold each other accountable for getting your papers organized.

3. Hire a professional organizer to help you. Visit to find one near you.

4. Throw it all away and start fresh. This one I am kidding on, but seriously when I work with clients on their paper clutter they are shocked that they could reduce a four drawer filing cabinet down to 6 inches.

If you are ready to conquer your paper clutter there is help out there. I am having a hands on paper organizing workshop, you bring the paper and I bring the supplies and the experts. You will be able to ask a CPA what papers you need to keep for your taxes. You will be able to ask a banker what papers you need to keep in order to secure a loan. You will be able to ask an insurance agent what papers you need to get your insurance rates looked at. You will be able to ask what school papers you need to keep from your kids elementary school years. Grab the paper and let’s take action.


If you go this is what you need to know:

How to register: email or Eventbrite online registration as there are limited spots and walk up registration is not available. Registration closes January10 at 8:00 PM

Date: Saturday January 12

Time: 9:00 to noon

Location: Mezzaluna, in downtown Fargo

Cost: $100 to cover supplies, food, beverages and other costs

Benefit: You will leave with a lifetime supply of knowledge to keep your paper clutter gone for good and a good start on getting your paper organized.


Local experts

Taxes: Tim Sweeney

Insurance: Robin Swanson with Superior Insurance

Banking: Shara Fischer with Alerus Financial

Professional Organizer: Melissa Schmalenberger

(The above photo is sadly my piles of papers that had accumulated over a year. It took me less than three hours to go through it and I kept very little)


To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity


MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at


  • Interested in starting your own Professional Organizing business, visit to learn about how Melissa can help you!
  •  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately; you can email her at
  • For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity Facebook business page here.
  • Order featured Clever Container organizing supplies here, consultant ID #18.