Anybody else have a paper problem?


Well-known member
I admit it: I have a problem. I've posted quite a bit about the state of my apartment—junk, clutter, pigsty, housekeeper, blah, blah, blah–I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about it. This is a little different, or at least I think it is.

I have a paper problem. It's only one part of my general clutter problem, but it's a big'un. Piles of it here, piles of it there, boxes stacked on boxes of it, paper everywhere. I'm not one of those people who have mountains of newspapers dating back to 1952 or anything, but I'm close, perhaps dangerously so. I haven't had an avalanche in a while, but it has happened, and it could easily happen again. They'd never find my body.

Right now, I'm looking at a folder on my desk full of papers relating to a retirement account I closed in 2006. Somewhere in another room is at least one box full of statements from that same account, some of them never even opened. Not far from where I'm sitting is a crate containing expired insurance policies dating back to 1998—I'm not even with that insurance company anymore—each neatly stored in its own dated envelope, and under the window is a Coke flat brimming with year-old stock prospectuses I've never read and never will. I have a drawer full of envelopes stuffed with cash receipts (groceries, takeout, that kind of thing) all carefully dated, annotated, and in chronological order going back to 2005. I have bank statements going back I don't know how far (early nineties?), some neatly bundled by year (with their relevant receipts, of course), some jammed into an old wooden letter tray, waiting to be opened and sorted someday. And that, folks, is just the tip of the paperberg.

I do not need this stuff!

At least ninety percent of this stuff is no longer relevant, if it ever was, much of it is redundant, and almost all of it is completely useless. I know this. I've done my Googling and found list after list telling me what to keep and what to chuck; what to preserve for all eternity; and what to shred, burn, and stab with a fork to make sure it's dead. The trouble is I can't bring myself to throw any of it away.

I'm looking at this folder of retirement stuff, and I know I should pitch it, but I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it. This is an account I cashed in about a year and a half after I got canned from my last job, from which it originated. I closed it because every statement they sent me (two a month for some reason) felt like another twist of the pointy, stabby knife in my back. I couldn't bear to look at the damned things anymore, yet here I am nearly ten years later still holding on to every single one. That's a little sick, don'tcha think?

I know I don't need this stuff. I know nothing bad will happen if I get rid of it. Nevertheless, I feel like something bad will happen if I send it on its way. I opened up this folder today to start to deal with it, and I felt a wave of horror sweep over me at the thought of sending even one sheet to the shredder. What if? What if? What if?

What if what? :idontknow:

I don't even know what if, but there it is, as real as my fear of heights or neighbors, that sudden gasping ache in the chest that says, "Stop! Don't do it! Or else!" Don't open the door, don't go down into the basement, don't answer the phone ('cause he's calling from inside the house), all the old horror flick clichés. But this is paper: flattened tree-stuff slathered with ink and transient importance. It shouldn't evoke such a reaction, but it does.

Anybody else have a problem like this, or am I completely crackers?


Well-known member
I don't like paper either. It gets worn out, collects dust, and takes away from the modern look of things lol... I like reading books from actual books though lol. I'm able to touch paper and stuff but don't like it for the most part. You could put a plastic film over the power to keep protect the papers?
I don't have this sort of problem but I know people who do to degrees. I guess on a practical level you box it up and put it into storage out of the house somewhere, or keep or scan the most recent ones and dump the rest - keeping in mind that most companies would have their own digital copies to refer to if needs be.

On other levels you probably need to explore the root of the anxiety and accept that you will experience anxiety in disposing of some of the clutter, but that will eventually fade...but in the meantime its causing you some distress, so the best course long term is to get rid of it.

And not saying you're a hoarder, but the people in those hoarder shows often have an emotional thing happening connected to a loss of some sort, so maybe have a think if there may be an emotional element going on somehow :]


Well-known member
I do not have your level of trouble, but I am in an advisy mood today, so please ignore the following.

1. It will never go away. If you have got that type of mindset, you will have that problem for the rest of your life.

2. It feels insurmountable

3. It is beatable.

4. You can do it alone, or you can pay someone to help you to do it.

5. It will be better to learn how to do it alone. If someone else do it you will have to get someone else getting to do it again.

6. There are lots of info online.

7. All of it are useless as is.

8. You will have to get your own way that works for you.

9. You will feel overwhelmed at times, crawl into a corner and wish the house will burn down.

10. You will wake up one morning, and gave it another go.

11. You will read some more minimalism websites.

12. Every now and then you will have a little place clean and sorted.

13. Constant vigilance is needed to keep that little place clean and sorted.

14. You will tackle another pile.

15. You will give up

16. And try again.

17. And give up again.

18. And then one day you will walk into your place and suddenly realize, "This is really looking better today."

19. You will jump in with renewed energy.

20. You will give up again.

21. One day you will see that the little clean spot isn't clean anymore, and be very upset.

22. And found that cleaning it a second time takes much less effort.

23. Found courage again.

24. Do a 30 day minimalism challenge

25. And win.

26. And one day you will get one room completely clean.

27. And after dusting the remotest corner and picking little pieces of lint of the carpet you will sit back and think that maybe this is just possible after all.

28. And go on with the other rooms.

29. And one day found you have given up again.

30. And recommit.

31. And found that recommitment is coming easier these days.

32. And got another room clean.

33. And took a picture and post it online for people that you do not know and then obsessively refresh to see if there is more likes.

34. And then do another minimalism challenge.

35. And run out of things to get rid off.

36. And stop bothering.

37. And a year later walked into your neat house again, and think: Why do I have all this stuff?

38. Start cleaning again.

39. And finish within a week.

40. And start reading a minimalism blog and realize there is nothing that they can teach you anymore.

41. And start posting advice on the internet for strangers.

42. Ignoring the cupboard full of stuff on you left side that has been haunting you for the past year.

43. And remembering there is still a Garage full of stuff that belong to other people.

44. And you would want to give up again.

45. And forgive yourself.

46. And recommit.

47. And be thankful for what you have achieved so far.

48. Good luck.


Well-known member
I have the same problem. Fall in love with organizing. It's the only way. Find a system that works for you.

Also, read Marie Kondo books. I am a fan and it has helped me to deal with my clutter. I still have a problem, but it's becoming more manageable.


Well-known member
Starting point: Grab a bunch of papers, sit on the floor with them, create a "save" or "keep" pile and a "trash" or "recycle" pile. And keep repeating until you're done. Then, go again through your "keep" pile to further diminish the junk papers.

Get some folders or one big binder and add dividers. Put them in each according to their category, which is completely up to you. Like "Finance" or "Projects" or whatever.

This is what I do when I'm trying to get rid of my paper junk. The point is to discover the system that makes sense from the chaos. You'd find it very comforting, too.


Well-known member
I don't have a lot of firsthand experience with this kind of thing, but here's one tid bit of advice.

I had this class a semester or two ago that I absolutely hated. Just like with any other class, I had accumulated plenty of papers by the end of it; notes, study guides, quizes, etc.

When the class was over and my grade showed up online, I went absolutely to town on that stuff. I went out back and burned them. I didn't do it in one big pile because I wanted to savor it. Instead, I burned them one by one. When I had one piece left, I burned parts of it, but left the content partially intact. I then put this final half-burnt piece in my nostalgia box.

Burning this stuff also had a beneficial psychological effect. It was like closing the book on a chapter of my life. It was cleansing.

Here's the point: Burning papers is fun. While the fun of burning stuff might not be enough to fully counter your aversion to getting rid of the papers, I figure that this fun might at least make it a bit easier. Kind of like how I make going to work each morning easier by giving myself coffee and food that I enjoy. Does it make me not hate work? No, but it's makes things just that little bit easier.

Additionally, as I mentioned, there's a good psychological effect of cleansing. Perhaps you can allow yourself to enjoy the cleansing feeling of "I don't need this baggage. Goodbye old stuff, and hello to newness!"

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