Printed material is one of the biggest organizational challenges
I encounter in my work. Many of us have unreasonable ideas of how
much information we should be able to read and retain. So stacks of
books, newspapers and magazines grow up around the home like oaks
out of acorns — very tough to pull out once they’ve taken root.
Have you ever tried to get someone to part with their collection of
Magazines and newspapers are major culprits in paper clutter.
Who doesn’t love magazines? They are bright, shiny, portable
distractions that keep us occupied while we’re waiting for the
doctor or the mechanic or while we’re procrastinating on something
Most people who have stacks and stacks of magazines simply
haven’t figured out how best to store the one or two ideas or
pieces of information the publication contains. Since ads make up
more than 75 percent of most magazines, saving the entire thing,
unless it’s a collectible issue, is a waste of space.
As a big believer in reference files, my favorite way to handle
magazines is to read through them once and turn down the corners of
anything that seems relevant to my life that could add some
benefit: a recipe that sounds easy and healthy; a great dress; a
yoga regimen; ideas for organizing, etc. I then take a look at all
the turned down corners and decide if the item is really something
I’m going to follow up on. If it is, I tear out the page and file
For a recipe you’d like to try, a common reason people save
magazines, tear out the page and file it under “Recipes.” Or you
could put it in a clear sheet protector and store it in a binder,
creating a personalized cook book of great recipes. This has the
added benefit of protecting the recipe from cooking splatters.
Newspapers have a much shorter lifespan and should be recycled
regularly. Daily newspapers are especially tough to keep up with,
so try to set aside half an hour early in the morning to peruse
them, clip anything of interest to read with more attention later,
and recycle the rest.
One of my favorite organizing tips is to carry your personal
reading material with you at all times. There’s no reason to read
the mangled copy of Car and Driver when I’m getting my car
maintained if I have my personal copies of Vogue and Real Simple to
If you are overwhelmed by stacks of newspapers and magazines,
it’s time to close your eyes, open the recycle bin and pitch.
Anything older than one week for newspapers and anything more than
two or three months old for magazines needs to go. Give yourself a
fresh start in this area and resolve not to let old publications
take over your space.
Remember, almost anything in print is available online where you
can access it — without having to store it.