paper clutter solutions

for all your home paper clutter problems





Get Your First Lesson FREE:
What Paper Work
to Really Keep for the IRS
(This report is based on USA
IRS Tax Documentation Requirements)

What is your biggest challenge
with paper work?


"Janet's report and course has given me such a feeling of freedom and more time to spend with my two small children. Janet was the motivation that I needed and I would NEVER have done this if it hadn't been for her. I am just about to tackle the computer room paper piles. I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate her and what she does. I feel like such a burden has been lifted from my shoulders with the tools that Janet has given me."

--Antoinette Finizio
Homemaker in New Jersey

"Janet, Thank you for the great information in “What Paperwork Do I REALLY Need to Keep.” I put your practical advice into action right away. I can now help my clients make better decisions about what to keep and for how long, and most importantly, know why to keep it in the first place! You saved me hours and hours of research time! Thanks so much!”

--Aby Garvey
Organizing Consultant in IL

"I Got LOTS of Things Organized in My Life Using Your 5 W's of Organizing, a TEASER and a TICKLE!©"

"Janet, You covered just what I need and I thought the course was just great. I know that many people will get lots of mileage out of such a course."

--Norma Fitzpatrick, Homeowner in Maryland

"Absolutely Easy to Use Info"

"I kept my cancelled checks for 10 years because my mom said to and whose file cabinet was considered the "Bermuda triangle"! Well, no more!!! I had checks from 1982! And the deposit slips! Well it took me three days but I shredded paper, threw out paper, and recycled paper! Cleaned out the closet and the file cabinet, got rid of an "extra" desk, and cleared off the walls (which I had been using as a bulletin board)! Bottom line - I can find anything and everything in my home office now because of Janet's program!"

-- Phyllis Glenn
Home Owner and Business Owner in MD

FAQ's I Get Asked
& Excuses I Hear


Q What do I need to keep, for how long, how to file it and what I can safely toss?

Q Everyday mail is my challenge.

Q Papers on my desk and at home( I am a teacher)

Q How long to hold on to paper for taxes, where to file years worth till needed

Q Keeping up on what to keep!

Q I need a place I can organize insurance, credit card, bank account numbers, etc. in one place

Q Saving way too many papers

Q Staying up with filing and getting it filed and taking time to file EVERYTHING

Q Sorting and keeping everything in one place

Q What to do with papers that fit more than one category

Q Deciding where to keep files and not knowing where to put it

Q Stacking

Q No more rooms to keep paper

Q Household/medical bills and MEDICAL file. We are in our 30's - and now those files are pretty big. How long to keep EOB's from the insurance co?

Q I can't seem to throw anything away, I'm afraid I will miss something if I throw it away.
I think I may need it someday

Q Finding what I need when I need it and Filing it yet having it accessible...I am a writer and I generate so much paper on multiple topics...

Q I am too sentimental when it comes to saving and have ended up with a paper nightmare of what to save and what to toss.  Do you have like three simple questions that I could ask myself when making the determination?


Excuse 1: I don't have the time.

Excuse 2: I'm too busy.

Excuse 3: I'll get organized someday.

Excuse 4: I'm waiting for the right and perfect time.

Excuse 5: I have more important things to do.

Excuse 6: I'm looking for a quick fix.

Excuse 7: I have interruptions all day long.

Excuse 8: I have so much going on I can't stay focused on anything


A Basically you need to keep any important documents or irreplaceable documents - (forever in a safe deposit or fire proof box), tax receipts and documentation - (up to 7 years stored in a file box or bin with returns), and toss anything you never refer to, use or is outdated. Lesson's 1, 4, 7, 8 and 9 of my 35 Days or Less to Sorting and Organizing ALL Your Home Paper Work Course

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A Mail is a problem for many people so you are not alone. Depending on your lifestyle you can do one of several things: (Mail is discussed in more detail in Lesson 11 of my 35 Days or Less to Sorting and Organizing ALL Your Home Paper Work Course )

1. Sort mail over the trash, recycling or shredder as soon as you bring it into your home (I don't get mine out of the box until I know I have time to do this). Then sort the rest into your tickler file or hanging folders in your tickler file stand.
2. Place your mail in a basket or bag (if you are having challenges leaving your mail in the car) and dedicate one day a week to review and act on your mail.

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A Get rid of the piles and get rid of your in/out box and start using a tickler file with a stand and corresponding hanging folders to sort and store your papers into.

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A Papers, documentation, and returns should be kept for at least 7 years. All paper work that was tax deductible should be stored with your returns. This type of paper is considered historical storage and can be stored in an attic, basement, garage, under stairs and even in the back of the closet. Storing documentation until needed for the year to file I recommend you read Track the Tax Papers. Historical storage is discussed in more detail in Lessons 3, 7 and 8 of my 35 Days or Less to Sorting and Organizing ALL Your Home Paper Work Course

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A Maintaining and keeping up with your filing can be simple when you set up a regular schedule and stick with it. Until filing time you can temporarily store your paper into the hanging folders in your tickler file stand. Maintaining your system is discussed in more detail in Lesson 11 of my 35 Days or Less to Sorting and Organizing ALL Your Home Paper Work Course

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A Organizing and recording your important numbers, whether phone, account numbers, or passwords is easy; record these numbers when you are paying the bills. I have four products that might be of interest to you in which you can record these things and much more important information. All these things make it easy and fast to retrieve in case of an emergency, disaster or death.

Safe Deposit Box Guide

Guide to Protecting Your Valuable Personal Records by HOMEFILE® will guide you step-by-step what papers SHOULD be in your safety deposit box & comes with envelopes to store your important document into.

Check it out at
Safety or Buy Now - $20.45 free shipping in US and Canada

If Something Should
Happen to Me

One of the most comprehensive, relevant tools available to ensure that families are prepared for the unexpected.

Check it out at
Something or Buy Now - $29.95 free shipping in US and Canada


Home Management E-Booklet

 If something should happen to you will your family or friends know WHO to call or WHERE you keep important documents? Then this e-booklet is for your to record all your Who, When, and Where's in.

Check it out at
Red Booklet or
Download and Buy Now
 - $7.00

File Index Dividers

It's called Financial Planning Organizer Kit  by HOMEFILE® NOW don't let the name fool you, it's not what I would call a financial planner However a WONDERFUL file drawer organizer! 21 forms & 22 pre-printed file dividers.

Check it out at
Index or Buy Now - $29.45
free shipping in US and Canada

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A Saving too many papers could be for several reasons: no one told you what is "needed" to keep, told you the "old way" or "their way" of keeping, or you just never got the training or skills needed.

Saving, piling, bagging, boxing, hoarding and pack ratting can also be very dangerous in more ways then one. There has been an up rise in fires due to clutter, condemned home and property, pain, hurt and yes even death due to clutter falling in around people in their homes.

And some no matter what they do it is very hard for them to ever get any sense of logic. They live in their right brain, the creative side that just wants to have fun; however later regrets having not been more responsible in taking care of, loving or even taking an interest in where or how things should be stored. An old bucket, a coat tree, whatever the item will fit in and look good in to them.

Saving the right things and the correct amount of things I feel is all about getting educated and for some professional help, be that a doctor or an organizer.

So when it comes to your paper, look at it and ask yourself:

WHO does it belong to?
WHO needs it?

WHAT do I need it for?
WHAT's  the date on it?

WHEN we I use it?
WHEN will I need it?

WHERE else can I find this?
WHERE can I find this?

WHY do I have this?
WHY do I want it?

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A Sorting can be done in categories. What types of papers you have will help determine what your new piles will be named. I use the TEASER from my system to sort through paper piles and files and just about anything else that needs to be sorted in the home or office. Lesson 2 teaches my sorting process in detail in of my 35 Days or Less to Sorting and Organizing ALL Your Home Paper Work Course. If you have the room to keep your papers in one place filed great; however many don't and separate out their current files and papers from the reference file and historical files, which can be put in different locations. Learn more about this process in Lesson 3,4,7 and 8 of my 35 Days or Less to Sorting and Organizing ALL Your Home Paper Work Course

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A Cross Categories can cause havoc for some and take up a lot of your precious time. So first look at what your files are called and which, if any, can you combine? Let's use the example of insurance policies. Do you have files for all the different types of insurance, such as a file for autos, file for home, file for medical? Wouldn't it be less time consuming to "lump" all the insurance policies in one folder called insurance? Also an inventory of your files you might find helpful.

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A Home files can be stored in several different places in different forms. For instance, many kitchen's now have a "secretary" zone, where you would keep things you use on a daily basis and current files in a file drawer or a tickler file stand you use at least weekly. Files that you refer to periodically can be filed in a file box or cabinet in another room, easy to get to and your historical files can be stored in a file box that's out of sight.
Lesson 7, 8 and 9 speak more about this in
my 35 Days or Less to Sorting and Organizing ALL Your Home Paper Work Course

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A Stacking, ummm ... I've known many a stackers. It's their visual that they need so "they don't forget!" And many stackers I've met can pull something right out of their stack when asked for ... immediately! We are all different and do not and should not operate as the same. So if you are a stacker you might want to get stacking trays, label them and sort and organize accordingly.

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A My goodness! It sounds like you are holding on to too much paper and perhaps are unsure of what to really keep or what you can safely toss/recycle/shred. I recall my mother-in-law, Mom Dot, basement filing cabinet after she left this beautiful world; she had utility bill stubs dated back to the 30's!!!

It was hard for me to see. Can you imagine or are you just like MOM DOT and hold onto or continue to hold onto papers you aren't sure if you really need, where to file, or if it's safe to toss and or recycle/shred.

Perhaps you have files and piles to what I refer to as "pre-Internet" days. You know all the recipes, how-to's, craft projects and "this is important so I better file it" information that you can now easily find on the Internet. Most of that stuff you can probably safely let go of now and look it up on the Internet.

If you have room out of room for your papers then I highly recommend you take my 35 Days or Less to Sorting and Organizing ALL Your Home Paper Work Course, have me come over or do some phone coaching with me - call me 410-586-9440

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A EOB's (Explanation of Benefits) generally tell you what your insurance company paid for a test or medical visit. So ask yourself the following: What use are they? Have you ever needed them after you filed them? Are you "required" to keep them? I personally recommend keeping them until either 1) you make sure the bill was actually paid or 2) save for a year and if not tax deductible toss, shred or recycle.

Personal medical records or bills you've paid should be saved until the end of year to see if you have accrued enough to claim on your taxes. If not then get rid of them. Now some like to save their personal records of when a test or procedure was done. I highly recommend my associate Shirley Green's Medical Pink Sheet to record your medical history into. My husband was just telling me with his new diagnosis of kidney disease that if an emergency was to happen and he had to go to the hospital I must tell them this and that. Well I immediately got Shirley's Medical Pink Sheet to record all this important information that I would NEVER recall in an emergency. Now I'm ready if an emergency should come to my husband.

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A You have two things going on here: fear and an excuse. Ask yourself: Have you missed anything yet and if so were you able to find it? It's not bad to save things as long as you have a real reason to save it and you will use it. If someday ever comes will you be able to find it? This is where a good inventory of your files and maintaining your files comes into play. Inventory and maintaining are discussed in more detail in lessons 8, 9 and 11 in my 35 Days or Less to Sorting and Organizing ALL Your Home Paper Work Course

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A Inventory list of your files is very important and also at least a yearly review and purge. Also see if you can combine some categories to make filing faster and locating easier. Lets say for example you write about different health issues. Have a hanging folder (you might need more then one) name it Health. Now insert, if needed, manila folders ;labeled with the particular health issue, such as ADD, OCD, Diabetes, Cancer, etc. And remember to ask yourself before saving and filing, Where else can I find this information if needed? Also some topics the basic information stays the same and some topics, such as technology, the information changes rapidly so a review of your files is very important.

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A The best question to ask yourself is What is the next action, if anything, I need to take on this paper? Lesson 9 offers my File or Toss in my 35 Days or Less to Sorting and Organizing ALL Your Home Paper Work Course

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Excuse 1: I don't have the time.

Well what exactly are you doing with all your time? Do you really know where your time is being spent and on what?

You can guess and estimate all you want; however until you really become aware, possibly keep a time log of how you are spending your time, you really won't know for certain. Get a copy of our free time log at: 
and keep track for a day or two, or better yet keep track for a week, of where and how you are spending your time. After this is completed you will know what you can adjust, change, or stop doing to become more focused.

Ask yourself:

  • How many of my hours are really productive or generate revenue?
  • How many of my hours are spent looking for things?
  • How many of my hours are wasted watching TV, being a couch potato?
  • How many of my hours are spent gossiping on the phone?
  • How many of my hours are spent surfing the Internet for nothing important?

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Excuse 2: I'm too busy.

Let's get honest here. Are you really that busy that you can't take a half hour, half or whole day to tackle and sort through some of your piles, clutter, and stuff? Now I know that when one does get a little extra time they want to spend it doing whatever they want and that's okay. What we are attempting to do is create some semblance of balance.

For instance, if you are curled up in front of the TV or outside playing, whatever it might be that you do when you catch some 'free time,' and your piles and stuff are overtaking your life and environment then you are out of balance.

Remember, if you know what to do and are neglecting those to-do's then you are procrastinating or unfocused. Not too many people want to clean out their closet or sort through paper piles when a good movie is on and they could just lay around and relax without a care in the world. Or go play outside on a beautiful day rather then stay indoors going through piles. After all, you'll get your to-do's done one day, right? Which beings us
to ...

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Excuse 3: I'll get organized someday.

When will your someday come?

  • Will you get organized before family services comes and removes your children from your home?
  • Will you get organized before your spouse, partner, or roommate has had enough and moves out?
  • Will you get organized before you lose a promotion or worse yet your job?

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Excuse 4: I'm waiting for the right and perfect time.

Will the right and perfect time be after the above happens, when you are rudely awakened and forced to focus on your clutter issues? Believe me, giving up a TV show or a nice day is much better then going through the hell you will endure if any of the above happen to you.

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Excuse 5: I have more important things to do.

Have you ever noticed how you don't mind doing the other little things you've been putting off when you think you're ready to tackle a project? This could be any project, not necessarily an organizing project. This happens to all us procrastinators, including myself. Just when you're ready to jump into something you suddenly notice that this or that needs taken care of first.

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Excuse 6: I'm looking for a quick fix.

If you are looking for a quick fix, well there really isn't one. Every pile, mess, and disorganized area must be sorted through.

Decisions must be made:

  • Toss: Is it okay to toss?
  • Keep, Donate, or Refer: Where to keep, who to donate or refer to?
  • Repair: Will you use it if fixed?
  • Recycle: What can be recycled and how will you handle these items to get out the door?
  • Read: When will you have the time to read and is it really important to read?

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Excuse 7: I have interruptions all day long.

First of all let me tell you that when you have clutter and chaos in your life you are interrupting yourself!

Ask Yourself:

  • What or whom is interrupting me?
  • What or whom is 'taking' time away from me?
  • What or whom is causing me to lose focus?

After you have identified your what and whom interruptions ask yourself what you can do to put a stop to those interruptions.

For instance, if you don't know how to properly use the equipment or technology you are using, that's suppose to save you time, then you really need to plan some learning time in order to get the best use out of your equipment and technology or delegate those tasks to someone more knowledgeable.

If certain people are always interrupting you then you need to step up and set boundaries with those people. Create some rules or guidelines of when you are available, and be nice about it.

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Excuse 8: I have so much going on I can't stay focused on anything.

This is ME! I have so many projects, products, web sites, clients, and to-do's it's very hard for me to stay focused at times. That's just in my business life. I also have things in my home life and outside my job and home that I want to focus on. You too?

Well let me tell you, one of my coaches got a hold of me at the beginning of the year and made me sit down with her and make a list of the things I have going on. Then she told me I had to pick 5 and only 5 items from my list. After talking about and going through all the items I was finally able to determine and pick out the 5 most important items to keep my focus on.

Now that doesn't mean I need to give up all the other items on my list, I don't have to abandon them. I'm just not focusing on them until I have completed a task from my top 5 focus areas.

So, make a list of all the items you want to get organized, focused on, and completed and pick out only 5 items, the ones that are causing you the most pain and chaos in your life and let's start working on them together.

Don't let your lack of focus grow and overpower you - taking over your life, and your environment, let me help you.

When it comes down to it paper is never going to go away; however once you learn how to make decisions on what to keep, where and how to store the paper and maintain your systems you'll be in better shape then you are now. It will take some action on your part to do what are you waiting for? Let's get your papers under control once and for all!

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janet hall, the person/place energy mover
box 263
port republic, md 20676
Serving MD, VA, DC, FL, NY and where ever you'd like me to come to help and/or speak is a division of

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