Calendar Challenge: The problem with paper

Lessons from Organize MV on how to control the paper population.

Kim D'Arcy and three of her four children (from left) Teagan, Colby, and Devyn. — Photo courtesy of Kim D'Arcy

“Do you ever feel you’re losing your battle with paper?” Kim D’Arcy of Organize MV asked participants at her “Paper Spaces and Places” workshop on Feb. 11 at the Vineyard Montessori School.

Participants nodded knowingly as Ms. D’Arcy offered encouragement that the flow of paper into our homes can be controlled. “‘I’m drowning in paper’; I hear that a lot,” Ms. D’Arcy said. But she emphasized that success takes determination, planning, discipline, and most important — a system.

During her 90-minute PowerPoint presentation, Ms. D’Arcy explained how incoming paper becomes a seemingly unmanageable deluge, and suggested steps for stemming and organizing the tide.

After startling stats about paper clutter and its cost in time, money, and peace of mind, Ms. D’Arcy offered facts, insights, and detailed instructions about gaining the upper hand.

Paper comes into homes daily — bills, brochures, invitations, children’s artwork, school schedules, appointment cards, coupons, newspapers, dreaded catalogs.

If you’re still battling your paper piles despite your New Year’s resolution, it’s time to take action.

“Paper is stressful because you need to make so many decisions,” said Ms. D’Arcy. “Paper clutter is no more than postponed decisions!” Get started with today’s paper, she urged. Set up a system now. Leave backlogged paper for another time. “Every piece of paper in your home needs its own place!”

Minimize: Eliminate paper before it arrives. Presort and toss at the post office. Limit magazine subscriptions to two or three. Use web sites to manage catalogs.

When paper arrives: Create and consistently use an “in-box.” Leave paper there until you are ready to handle it. Deal with paper daily.

Categorize: Action (e.g. bill to pay, invitation needing reply), reference (e.g. sports schedule, recipe, appointment card), archive (e.g. old taxes, paid bills). Create a place for each category. It can be a box, basket, notebook, or bulletin board — whatever works for you.

Ms. D’Arcy, a mother, teacher, volunteer, and member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, offers services to homes and small businesses. She will present a workshop in the Oak Bluffs library’s Fit in ’15 series this spring. For more info, visit

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