Hot Spot Check Up: Desk | Week 3

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. I’m currently working on my desk, including a box of paper clutter I filled up from the desk a few weeks ago. 

I started again with that paper clutter box. I haven’t touched it since last week, of course.  Except that one thing was added to the box. That’s not what’s supposed to happen!


I set the timer for 10 min. and went to work, with the same basic process that I used last week. I was moving a little slower today, so after 10 min. was done, I wanted to make more progress, so I set the timer for 5 more minutes. The recycle bag is not just from this week’s project. It includes papers from last week and some others from throughout the week.


I gave myself 15 minutes to deal with my little piles and work on the desk itself. I was so excited to get to work on the desk, that I forgot to take a before picture, but here’s how it looked after that 15 minutes, plus I went just a few minutes over.


My Take Action pile is there to the right of the computer, and some unopened mail is there on the left.

What I am learning:

  • I need to make time for actually dealing with the Take Action pile. You know, maybe I should spend some time taking action.
  • Blogging about my progress really motivates me!
  • If I keep the same pace on that paper clutter box, I should have it emptied in 2-3 weeks. I hope I can pick up the pace a little more!

What motivates you to work on paper clutter?


Hot Spot Check Up: Desk in 28 min. | Week 2

OK! I’m feeling good about things this week. I started to deal with that box of hidden paper clutter. The whole box was just too overwhelming and I knew I didn’t have time to do it all, so I set my handy-dandy timer (I use the one on my oven) for 10 minutes and I went to work.



I decided to just make some quick piles and not bother with boxes/bags/containers. Part-way through, I made those labels for the piles using envelopes from the recycle pile, to help me keep on track.

My piles included:

  • To File
  • Recycling
  • Mr. RSS (That’s anything for my husband to deal with)
  • Take Action

Next I dealt with each pile instead of leaving them there for days to get all mixed up again by a certain toddler. Why didn’t I think of this idea before?? (I forgot to set the timer for this part, but I’m estimating it only took me 5 min.)

  • Recycle – into a recycle bag. Easy!
  • To File – The pile was so small and not so overwhelming, so I actually filed everything right then and there. I’m not even kidding. Crazy.
  • Mr. RSS – I put his pile on his desk for him. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled!
  • To Take Action – Well, I moved that little pile to the desk, right next to the computer. Not much action on it yet.  

But, wait! There’s more!

Desk Before:

I set the timer for 10 min. to work on the desk. After that, I really wanted just a little more time, so I did 2 more minutes and then 1 more for the finishing touches. So, that’s 13 min.

Desk After:

What I am learning:

  • Small chunks of time seem to work well for me.
  • The timer helps me stay on task, work quickly, and have the end in sight.
  • It was good for me not to set up boxes to sort papers because:
    • That takes time, or I need to find my old boxes which are….somewhere….maybe in my room?
    • I feel the need to keep the boxes to use again, or wait until they are full. Then I have boxes sitting around somewhere. Not good for me.
    • In the case of a quick sort, the papers are not getting out of hand, and It helps me to deal with them more quickly.

How is your desk doing today?

I’m linking up with Works for Me Wednesday over at We are THAT Family.









Hot Spot Check Up: Desk! | Week 1

I’ve been checking in on a clutter hot spot each week. I take a picture of that spot and post it for all to see. I just spent 7 weeks on the kitchen island, and now I’m moving on to the desk (AKA The Desk of Paper Clutter Madness).

Tuesday night, I started instinctively clearing the island to get ready for my hot spot post. When I remembered that I was moving on to a new spot, I almost stopped….but I decided to keep working at it even though I wasn’t taking a picture of the island. Yay!

About 6-7 months ago, I did a major desk declutter/clean up/organize session, and the results were great. Some of it has stayed under control, some of it hasn’t.

Paper clutter is one of my biggest clutter struggles, and of course my desk loves to collect papers.

Here’s a picture of how it looked about a week ago:

But you might remember that last week I was hosting a playdate, so I was doing some major cleaning up. Our desk sits right between our kitchen and our living room, so it is very visible. I worked on cleaning it up, but in the end I did not have time to deal with all of the paper clutter, so I put it all in a box and hid it in the basement. Hey, at least it fit in just 1 box, right?

Here’s how it looked after the clean up/declutter/clutterhide:

And now, here’s this week’s picture:

Most of the clutter that was added there this week is actually because the kids were using the desk as their “teacher desk.”

I am planning to go through that paper clutter box. In fact, it is now sitting next to the desk. Feel free to ask me about it if I don’t report back with an empty box.

I hope you’ll join me as I figure out what works and what doesn’t with the desk and the paper clutter!

Other Updates:

  • I’m thinking about a post about the pros and cons of hiding clutter, since I’m becoming an expert on that, it seems.
  • I’m excited to show you some before/after pictures from the playdate clean up sometime soon.

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing.

Why is paper clutter so hard to deal with?

Paper clutter does involve thinking and making decisions, but all clutter does, doesn’t it? I can’t figure out why it’s so hard. Maybe some of you can give me a lightbulb moment with your insights in the comments. Anyway, I think it’s one of my biggest struggles with clutter.

I have been trying to deal with these three containers of paper clutter for a while now, and I’m just not getting it done.

 But I’m not giving up. I’m quite certain that won’t help anything.

Now, to “celebrate my successes,” I did go through one container during my first paper clutter week with Project: SImplify, and I finally emptied that white laundry basket of papers. See?

I really thought about taking a break and moving on to a more “exciting” decluttering, but I think it will be good for me to finish those other 2 containers before moving on. (I actually do have other containers of older paper clutter around the house, but I’m going to let those wait for another time.)

I think maybe I need to look at where all of my time is going, and  try implementing more of a schedule (Yikes!).

OK, one step at a time….here I go…trying not to get too overwhelmed with it all! I hope to report back soon with 2 more empty containers! Paper clutter, be gone!

By the way, one of my recent goals is to prepare simple healthy dinners for my family. I like cooking, but cooking has been taking up too much time in my day, so I’m trying to simplify. It seems like simplifying dinner will give me more time to work on all of this decluttering. I’m thinking about posting some of my simple dinner successes. Interested?

Is paper clutter hard for you? If not, what kind of clutter gives you the most difficulty? If you know why it’s so hard, you get imaginary bonus points.

Project: Simplify: Getting things OUT the door and paper sorting

This is the last week of Project: Simplify over at Tsh’s blog, Simple Mom. And this week we get to pick whatever project/hot spot we want! Sweet!

I was really tempted to pick a new spot (I have plenty that need decluttering!), but I decided the best thing would be to finish up some of what I have already started.

Tsh’s post announcing the hot spot is really good. I felt like she must have read my blog and she was speaking to me on several points, especially what she said about working quickly.

So I picked 2 projects from previous hot spots:

1. Actually get the clothes, shoes, and toys that were bagged and boxed up from weeks 1 and 3 OUT of the house!!

I know my son looks like he is in pain, but really he is just saying cheeeeeeeeeeeeese.

Why is that last step of decluttering so hard for me? I think at least part of it is deciding what exactly to do with it. Should I give it to a friend? Who? Should I donate? Where? Should I sell some of it? How? I need to just make a decision and take action!

Theoretically, this should not take much time once I make a decision! I think having the deadline of doing it this week will help!

2. Sort the rest of the paper clutter that I gathered.

I’m not saying that I’m going to get it all filed and taken care of this week, but I want to at least sort the 3 containers of very miscellaneous papers. What I learned from the one container I sorted in week 2, is that most if it can be recycled and doesn’t need to stay in my house, sitting around causing me stress.

The 3 containers to sort:

Gabe really likes to be included, as you can see!

And I still have my sorting boxes all set up, with papers there waiting for new paper friends to join them:

There's Gabe, snuggling with the shred box 🙂 I love that boy!

 Are you working on a decluttering project this week?

Do you have a hard time getting decluttered stuff out of the house?

I always like to hear your advice/ideas, too!

As usual with this project, I hope to post results on Friday or Saturday!

Project: Simplify: Wanna see a clean desk?

Well my goal was to post some progress Friday night, but it just didn’t happen. Sorry! So now that I’ve left you in suspense for an extra day or so, here’s the update!

My goals this week were to work on the paper clutter on the desk and the kitchen island, but really I have paper clutter all over the place and it was a little hard to focus. So I did end up collecting paper clutter from a few other places that were driving me nuts. Like this:

There were a few other things that gave me some challenges this week, like this cutie:

I did go through one big box of paper clutter. Check it out!

I decided to time myself to see how long it would take. It took me about 1 hr 30 min! And I really was trying to move quickly! But I did get stuck on at least one Christmas letter that I hadn’t read yet.

But here’s what it looked like after sorting.

Another issue I ran into was that my paper clutter had lots and lots of non-paper-clutter-friends, especially on the island and the desk, and I couldn’t stand dealing with just the paper clutter without dealing with the rest of it. It just seemed like it wouldn’t be as rewarding to me.

So I went to town.

On the desk.

I was trying to ask myself questions like:

Do we use this?

Do we love this?

Do we use/love this here in this spot?

Here’s the before:

Sorry the picture is kinda blurry! Moving along….

Here’s the after!!

Another before:

Another after!!!

You see that tan paper-organizer-thingy? My plan for now is that I will process mail right away and what doesn’t get recycled will go here with 3 categories: Elizabeth, Mr. RSS, and both. I think I just need to see how this goes for a little while and then we can revise as needed. I’m still working on the issue of processing school papers.

And by the way, I have spent $0.00 on this Project: Simplify stuff so far! I’ve just been using what I find around the house for my organizing! And on that same topic, I think my friend Kristen over at The Frugal Girl would also be proud to know that I used one of  my old T-shirts from cleaning out my closet and I made a rag (See Kristen’s post on T-shirt rags here) which I used to clean this desk! How cool is that?

What? You want one more after picture?

Oh, okay…

Now I do realize that there is much more to do on this paper clutter issue around here (I still have at least 3 boxes of paper clutter to go through, for example).  I will keep you updated on my progress!

 I’m linking up over at Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify: Paper Clutter Results, so head on over there if you like to see more paper clutter being banished.

Project: Simplify: Attack of the paper clutter!

This week’s hot spot over at Simple Mom’s Project: Simplify is paper clutter! This is another bad one around here. Our paper clutter enjoys collecting on pretty much any flat surface. I would say most of it consists of mail/bills and school papers/kids artwork.

Here are some before pictures. Be warned. It’s not pretty.

Desk area:

Yes, papers on the floor, too!

The kitchen island, which is still in pretty much the same condition as a week or so ago

Our paper clutter has lots of non-paper friends, too.

There’s more (and I have pictures), but these will be my main goals this week! I will also be working on some organization and maintenance ideas to keep this from continually happening again and again and again. How do you do with paper clutter?