Mini Mission Monday ~ Paper

mini-logoMini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It takes the guess work out of decluttering and makes it easy and “fun” for you to achieve some quick decluttering.

It is obvious from the title of today’s post that we are going to focus this week’s mini missions on paper clutter. Quite often we keep, generate and ignore this kind of clutter but a large amount can take up a small physical space while weighing heavily on your mind. And the longer you put off dealing with it the more complicated the task can become. So chip away at it this week and then keep up with it on a regular basis in the future.

Monday – Declutter old receipts that are no longer needed for proof of purchase for the sake of returning items.

Tuesday – Declutter expired warranty papers and manuals for items you no longer own or that you can access online.

Wednesday – Declutter old school papers of either the adults or children in the house.

Thursday – Declutter paper keepsakes that no longer mean that much to you.

Friday – Declutter some paper reading matter such as books, magazines, comics…

Saturday – Declutter some account papers that are past needing keeping. Scan them and save them on your computer if you are concerned you may need to refer back to them.

Sunday - Sunday is reserved for contemplating one particular item, of your choice that is proving difficult for you to declutter. Whether that be for sentimental reasons, practical reasons, because the task is laborious or simply unpleasant, or because the items removal requires the cooperation of another person. That last category may mean that the item belongs to someone else who has to give their approval, it could also mean there is a joint decision to be made or it could mean that the task of removing it requires assistance from someone else. There is no need to act on this contemplation immediately, it is more about formulating a plan to act upon or simply making a decision one way or another.

Good luck and happy decluttering

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Perfect timing! A friend I have been helping her prepare to downsize, the only room we have left to do is their office which has plenty of paper.

  2. I’ve been waging a major attack on paper in anticipation of our move next summer. Yesterday we hit a box with Ian’s former employment stuff and shredded a pile of certificates for participation in courses (CPR, first aid, etc.) We kept his diploma, earned the hard way by going back to school at 40, but he was quite willing to let the rest of it go. Eight years retired, does he really need to prove he took a time management class???

  3. With this weeks mini missions, I went to my craft supply first and decluttered over 30 items. As my crafting things are with my Christmas items (not paper), I got rid of a huge plastic container of Xmas items. Then I went to my magazines and got rid of 20 magazines. If you came into my home you wouldn’t think I had that much to get rid of, yet there was so much that needed to go. I feel lighter already.

  4. I realised last week that I had a whole drawer of stationery that had not been opened in a long time. The content has gone to another home now. 😀
    Now on to convince my mom to let me reduce the pile of my school stuff…

  5. I think paper clutter is one of the most daunting of all clutter types. When decluttering my paper items, I took a good hard look at which of those items I actually referred back to. I realized that I never once needed an old bank statement, credit card statement, or pretty much statements of any kind. Most of that stuff is online these days anyway, so it’s easy to get access if you ever need it.

    I also rarely save owners manuals anymore since most of those are available online.

  6. I spent most of the day today going through all the medical paperwork and such from the last year. Since I show that it is all paid I am decluttering it all. I only have to have on to the items from Mom’s hospital stay to see if anything comes along late from that. I also did the tasks for all the other days. I do have one thing left to do. I want to make sure that I have all the tax documents scanned into a file on Dropbox. Once I have done that it will all be done. So exciting.

  7. I try to keep paper to a minimum by going through my files once a year, but I didn’t get to it in 2014. So this is a good time to do it. I don’t have some of those specific missions (like receipts or magazines), so I’ll do a week of purging whatever papers I can. I’ve been wanting to work on my files, so thanks for the motivation!

  8. Can any 365ers help me to get over my fear of trusting everything to digital storage. I know logically that digital storage is as safe and secure (or not) as is hard copy storage but something just holds me back from going over to that format. I’m not sure why. I use digital systems and storage everyday for work and have done for some 20 + years. Mind you in that time there have been so many different kinds of digital storage that some of the documents I can no longer access as the abilty to read that sort of disk is long gone. Interesting as I don’t need to read those documents other than for nostalgia purposes that shows that I probably didn’t need to keep them anyway! If any of you have any ideas on how I can feel more confident with this I’d be grateful. Now where did I put my parchment and quill pen?

    • Salley – LOL ok I know how you feel and I’ve had similar qualms myself. I worked in a Records and Archives Department for a District Council for 4-5 years so I have a bit of a ‘hard copy’ mentality, however since becoming an office manager I’ve had to move with the times, especially on an electronic and cloud basis.

      My first encounter with the whole electronic dilemna was when I switched to an e-reader – what if there was a disaster and the power was out and I couldn’t re-charge the battery, what would I do? Well, if things were that bad…..surely survival and community effort would be a higher priority and reading at night would be unlikely given the lack of electricity.

      Later came the saving business tax records to the cloud – what if we were hacked? So far they seem more interested in Sony than our little business. What if the cloud server crashed? Well, they have multiple back up servers located around the world. But what if there was some major calamity and the entire internet crashed. Well, without sounding like a conspiracy theorist this would likely be World War Three, an alien attack or a Zombie invasion – any of which my tax records and personal records would really be low on the priority list.

      You are correct that many formats of disk storage have become obsolete in the last twenty years, heck I remember being shown how to do a Dat-file backup when I first started working in Archives! Then there were the big floppy disks, then there were the A drive floppy disks, burning disks, external hard drives, flash drives so on and so on.

      I have considered that PDF files might be defunct one day, but someone will see an opportunity in the market and will make a conversion programme, but that aside, I expect a lot of what has been PDF-ed may not require converting. For example, tax records older than 5-7 years. Medical records, only if there is a need to convert the file. So on and so on.

      Here’s what I did. I opened a account. It won’t cost you anything. And got used to it on a basic level.

      • Hi Moni
        Thank you for your very wise reply. Reading your words has really resonated with me and I can feel the junk beliefs in my head start to declutter themselves. I am someone who catastrophises all situations on the basis that if I’ve planned for the worst then it won’t happen and I have indeed been planning for World War Three, An Alien attack and a Zombie invasion because they will all happen on the same day of course. Although if any of those events did happen, as you point out, I don’t think I’d really be worrying about finding the letter to prove that I paid my electricity bill promptly in 2004! I shall explore dropbox and be brave.

        • I couldn’t help but laugh at the mention of WW3, alien invasion, or a zombie attack. You left out EMP. That’s on my “what if?” list as well. LOL. 🙂

          • Melanie – I had to look up EMP, thanks a million, now my paper-paranoia has something else to add to worry about! 🙂 Do you remember Y2K? I stocked up on everything! Was almost let down when nothing happened.

        • Salley – LOL – of course all three would happen on the same day!

          • Moni,

            You are welcome! Paranoia loves company! Hahaha. Yes, I remember Y2K very well. We had just gotten married and didn’t have much extra money. But we did make somewhat of a plan. We stayed up all night to see what would happen, and got to see the new year fireworks all across the world (on TV). That was so much fun….one of my favorite memories. And wouldn’t you know I forgot to play “Party Like It’s 1999” by Prince. I’ll never forgive myself for that.

            I read a few years ago that Y2K was indeed a serious threat, but the governments around the world took it seriously and avoided a meltdown. Somehow I don’t think they are taking our zombie attack seriously, so we girls are right to be concerned. 😉

  9. I have it on good authority that zombies are very very afraid of capable women!

  10. I think this could be the missions set every week for a year and I’d still be snowed under with paper…

  11. You’ve named my clutter monster this week! And nearly all my paper clutter could fit under Thursday’s mission, maybe Friday’s too. I’ve been tackling the paper monster on and off for a few months now, but even now I still get the horrors thinking about tackling it again… Well, now I have renewed inspiration to ‘gear up’ and take him on again! 🙂 At least thanks to my former efforts, the paper monster has reduced in size from around 4 boxes and five folders, to one box and four folders. He’s obviously still big enough to be scary and I don’t want to be scared of my paper collection so I think I’d better get to it and teach him a lesson, 365-style 🙂

    Oh, and one set of paper items I did declutter the other day – the stubs from every movie I’ve been to over the past 15 years (this included a decent amount of time with movie-loving boyfriends, so you can imagine how many stubs there were!) I realised, not only did I never look at them, but I couldn’t remember going to see half of them let alone what they may have been about, and also due to the inks used, most had faded to being nearly impossible to read anyway! I have saved around a dozen for now, that I could actually read and remembered going to the movie and enjoying it. Now they feel like an appreciated item, not an ‘I collect movie stubs (just because)’ item 🙂

  12. I worked through my files last week. I don’t really have that many, so this mission was an easy one for me. I have two small file boxes… archive (for taxes, old investments) and one active file box (for legal, insurance, car papers, boat papers, lease, etc.) I don’t keep bank statements, utility bills, etc. I just don’t need to, although I understand many people do for tax purposes.

    Anyway, I purged a few papers, and everything else got a nice new file folder and label.