Author: Darla DeMorrowDocument Management Filing Home Office Organizing Paper Tips Uncategorized

17 Ways to Go Paperless without Scanning

Photo by ron dyar on Unsplash

I’ve been reading articles about the promise of a paperless office my entire life, and for the most part, those articles have just created more paper.

For the first time in modern history, we now have the tools to go completely paperless. But before you go invest in a new gadget and hunker down to scan all of your paper, you can probably do a lot to reduce the amount of paper in your life.

Turn Off Paper Statements

  • The first thing is to turn off any statements for accounts, especially if you aren’t opening them. Bank statements are usually the prime offender. Call your bank or go online to shut off those statements. Check to be sure the bank’s retention practices will meet your needs, and that you can access statements online if you need to.
  • Then turn off any billing statements, especially if you have them on auto-payment arrangements and can check your account online.
  • Check with your medical offices to see if they can eliminate or reduce your paperwork there, too. Most medical offices have PHRs (personal health records) and can email you copies of office visits, tests and prescriptions.

Turn On Auto-Pay

  • If you have some but not all of your bills on auto-payments, turn those on, too. Many institutions will allow you to set a minimum payment amount each month. You can always pay more, if you choose, by making additional online payments.
  • If you are concerned that you’ll either miss a payment or somehow be out of the loop on your accounts, write up a simple list of accounts being paid automatically (either by hand or using a spreadsheet), and check these online the same day you get your paycheck. This adds one piece of paper to your life, but might be exactly what you need to keep it all straight. 
  • Set up folders in your email program to file e-statements. Folders allow you to organize emails into groups for long-term storage, out of your inbox. Rules allow you to automate routine statements to be filed without you having to be the one to do it. If you need help with learning to use folders (or tags in gmail) and rules, search the internet for “how to set up folders on {my email} service.”

Get Off Mailing Lists

  • Contact and to opt in or out of paper mailings. They won’t stop all of the mail, but it will stop much of it.
  • Be generous, but be selective, too. Stay off the “sucker lists,” which are lists of people who are likely to respond and donate to charitable appeals. Charity fund raising is big business. The more organizations you donate to, the higher the chance that data mining companies will identify you as an easy target, selling your information to even more charities. Honor your nature to be generous by donating to fewer causes that are important to you, and that have good ratings from Be selective to stay off the lists that generate even more charity mail in your mailbox.
  • Opt out of unsolicited credit card offers. Many of these are generated by companies data-mining your credit reports. Reduce these unsolicited offers by contacting each of the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian), and requesting that they not allow your data to be accessed for the preapproved offers. The toll-free number for all the national credit reporting agencies is 1 888 5OPTOUT (1 888 567 8688).
  • Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you (“Firm Offers”). The FCRA also provides consumers with the right to opt-out of these offers. If you choose to opt-in or opt-out, you can visit to make your request online.” (excerpted from
  • Reduce the amount of credit accounts you have. Stick with one main all-purpose credit card and another one for backup. Reduce the urge to sign up for store credit accounts just to get short term offers. Cancel promotional cards as soon as you fulfill the promotion. The more cards and credit accounts you have, the more mail they will generate. 

Utilize Online Information Sources

  • Recycle most manuals for household items. Chances are you don’t need the manual for small items like toasters and coffee makers. You can access manuals you do need online at and If you can’t find it there, which is rare, you can usually find a manual for an older product at the manufacturer’s website.
  • Support your school’s, church’s and community’s efforts to go paperless. Learn how to use online forms and payment options like e-checks and Paypal. 

Say No to Paper Offered to You

  • Don’t bring home fliers, brochures and free magazines. These rarely get read, and they rarely have information that you can’t find online.
  • Instead of collecting business cards, scan a card on your phone and enable your settings to send information right into your phone’s Contacts app. ScaBizCards and Evernote both can upload details directly to your contacts app.

Reset your Reading Habits

  • Cancel your newspaper and magazines if you never read them. Continue to get your local news by purchasing a digital subscription, and request a daily email of headlines and topics that interest you.
  • Are you really serious about having less paper in your life? Get an e-reader and learn to use it instead of buying and storing books you’ll need briefly. Sure, you love the feel and smell of actual books, but you can have HUNDREDS of great books and magazines in less space than your unread piles are taking on your cluttered nightstand right now.

If you really want to go paperless, start with these steps to have less paper in your life. You’ll find more space in your home. 

Author: Darla DeMorrowOrganizing Tips

The First Step to Organize Your Kitchen or Any Other Room

The following is excerpted from the best-selling book: Organizing Your Kitchen with SORT and Succeed:

What is your goal? Are you trying to get or stay healthy, looking to set a good example for your kids, or are you just tired of fighting clutter in your kitchen?

If you want to get healthy, the kitchen is a great place to start. Research shows that cluttered kitchens prompted people to eat 44% more snack food than a kitchen that was organized and decluttered.

Tips from Darla DeMorrow, author of best selling book: Organizing Your Kitchen with SORT and Succeed:

Unless you are working with a paid professional organizer, do not start out with the goal to organize your entire kitchen. For most people, it’s just too big of a goal to accomplish in the ideal project timeframe of between fifteen minutes and four hours.

Instead, pick smaller goals to organize your kitchen, and tackle them one after the other, perhaps on different days:

Clear the sink

Clear the countertop

Remove or re-organize magnets and notes stuck to the refrigerator door

Baking supplies

Cleaning supplies

Pantry items

Small appliances

Everyday dishes

Grill, picnic and party gear

Refrigerator (inside)

Freezer (inside)

Towels, napkins, placemats and tablecloths

Pick one of these mini-projects, or choose something that’s specific to your kitchen, and write down your goal. It can be a single bullet point. It can be on scrap paper or the back of an envelope. Just write down the one thing you are working on today, right now.

Yes, actually writing it down is the first step to getting started. If you’ve ever gotten distracted while organizing (and really, who hasn’t?), then you’ll appreciate this.

A written reminder can help you stay focused on your project and reel you back into the kitchen when you start to wander off. It’s the equivalent of having that professional organizer or good friend there beside you, tapping you on the shoulder, reminding you to stay focused on what you said you were going to do today.

After writing down your goal for this project, actually get started. You’ve already completed one-fifth of the SORT and Succeed system to organize your kitchen or anything in your home.

Author: Darla DeMorrowBack To School Clutter Family General Paper

Four-and-a-Half Piles of End-of-School-Year Papers

At the end of the school year, there are three things that are a given.

  1. It only takes a day or two to hear, “Mom, I’m bored.”
  2. Water play of any sort makes the long days more fun.
  3. There will be papers, papers, and more papers sent home from school.

A stack of school binders and papers.







Here’s help for all of those papers:

Just because your kid’s papers come home in one bag doesn’t mean there is just one single type of paper. There are a few different types of papers, and each one needs you to do something different to them. Let’s break it down.

  • Proof Your Kid Did Something, aka Homework. Chances are, this is just not that amazing. Most of it is probably worksheets. Review and recycle ASAP.
  • Official Looking Stuff Parents Need to Know. These flyers are usually printed on colored paper. They are not usually remotely important. Do a quick sort and purge to get down to just a handful of items that may truly need your attention. These might include school-issued passwords to online programs, which sometimes apply throughout the summer and into the next year. A three-ring binder for you, the parent, is a great place to keep the true, official notices and numbers handy.
  • Report Cards and Other Official Stuff. The truly official papers should be filed in a safe place, with your child’s permanent records. Most families put these in the same room or filing cabinet with the household files. If your child has an Educational Assistance Plan (EAP), you’ll keep assessment findings and other support documentation. When your child is young, if they are on track at school, their records probably aren’t critical, to be honest. But once they reach high school, every report card, activity they participate in, award they earn and reference letter they save could be part of their college application process. Help your kids learn to keep important papers safe in file folders or a file box.
  • Original creations. Your pint-sized Picasso will come home with finger paintings. Your budding engineer may create entire villages from Popsicle sticks. Your author-in-residence may have written a prize-winning poem. Your kid creates work that is uniquely theirs, that showcases their own talents, that they show pride in. Take the time to praise, display and digitize it. You can create a coffee table book or other tangible work of art that will last a whole lot longer than it will if it’s stuffed under a bed or crammed into a plastic box. Digitize their creations using a scanner or take pictures with your phone right away. Or find a personal photo organizer at the Association of Personal Photo Organizers ( to digitize for you.

Can you think of any other types of paper that you need to keep?

Don’t bother keeping school papers to pass down to the next kid. When their time comes, their teachers will have their own way of presenting a learning concept.

I recommend keeping recent school directories with #2 above and older school directories in #3 as keepsake items or not at all.

The half-pile I mentioned? I also end up with summer workbooks or skills packets. These might be things you buy or things that the teachers send home. They might include summer reading lists and reading tracking charts. Do yourself the favor of telling your kiddos about them, setting goals, and letting them work through them at a regular pace during the summer. We’ve had a routine of doing a couple of workbook pages each day. This year, we’re giving our kids a weekly packet to complete at their own pace. Either way, I’m grateful for the unused learning resources that the teachers sent home.

How long does it take to get through all the school paperwork? Realistically, it can take less than an hour per kid to sort into these categories and purge. It might take up to another hour to select and digitize the artwork that you’ve saved all year. If it takes much more time, you might be overthinking it. Your child — even elementary school children — can help you with this task. They’ll love telling you about all the amazing stuff they do at school.

If you haven’t unpacked that backpack yet, now is the time to dive in, sort the papers into the categories above, and reclaim your kitchen counter from school papers that have built up all year long.

Click on the title above to learn more about the featured author.

Author: Darla DeMorrowbathroom clutter Clutter Family General Organizing organizing toys Wardrobe Management

6 Things Organized People Do

6 Things Organized People Do At Home from HeartWork OrganizingIf you come to my house, you won’t see a perfect, magazine-ready home. But you will see a clutter-free, tidy space, unless the kiddos are having a LEGO-fest. Then all bets are off.

Want a more clutter-free home all the time? Take note of things that organized people do to keep their home organized.

  1. Don’t put it down, put it away. Yes, everything has a place in my home, even if it isn’t always in its place. If piles form in places they shouldn’t be, we reduce, recycle, shuffle, store, or donate to make room for new items. This goes for mail and coupons, too!
  2. Make time to clear the clutter. It doesn’t take much, but my kids know that we will wait for them to clear the toys out of the living room before they can turn on the TV. We occasionally will be late to events because they needed to put craft supplies away. It’s a small price to pay now for my kiddos to learn that they are responsible for keeping the house livable.
  3. Make seasonal adjustments. Flipping the closets from winter to spring and from summer to fall takes just a few hours, but it’s a must-do. It’s not a glamorous job, but making sure there is storage space in the closets and dressers means that other things can be put away in the closets, and not end up sitting out, creating piles of clutter. (See point number 1 above.)
  4. Use the downtime. I think the microwave is among the greatest organizing tools ever invented. Whenever  I am warming a cup of tea or prepping a meal, I use those 30 second and 2 minute chunks to quickly tidy one small area of the kitchen. A minute can be spent daydreaming out the window, or it can be used to quickly load or unload the dishwasher. Two minutes allows enough time to go through a backpack or toss junk mail. I can quickly clean the powder room while waiting for little ones to put on shoes and jackets. It’s amazing what little jobs can get done in 60 seconds or less, the average run of our microwave. Even upstairs, I use the time my children are playing in the tub to quickly clean the bathroom floors. While they are brushing their teeth, I can be putting away laundry. These little chunks of time really work for us.
  5. Don’t buy extras. Because I don’t buy for “just in case,” I don’t have to carry home, store, clean, and organize extras. I try to buy just what we need, just at the right time. That of course, doesn’t include toilet paper. You can never have too much toilet paper.
  6. Keep lists. My brain is full from the moment I wake up in the morning, so my brain is no place to keep important information (ha!). I keep a few lists for shopping, tasks, and events, and a very tight calendar to help me manage it all. Most of my lists are electronic, so I don’t have random papers floating on my counters.

While there are many more things that organized people do, these 6 things that organized people do might help you to stay more on track in your own home.

Author: Darla DeMorrowbathroom clutter General Home Organizing Small Spaces

12 Easy Ways to Organize Beauty Products

Easy ways to organize beauty products in the bathroomOrganizing your beauty products will cut down on the time it takes to get ready in the morning and will start your day off on an organized, empowered note. Here are 12 easy ways to get started:

1. Keep only the items you use every single day in your medicine cabinet. Leave room for the basics like your toothbrush and skincare. At least that part of your routine can be simplified to just one product for each step, even if you have a million choices for color and finishing touches.

2. For beauty items that coordinate with your outfit or the season, like blushers, eye shadows, and lip color, group them together by category so you can see your choices at a glance.

3. Use clear acrylic drawer dividers or decorative boxes to hold groups of each makeup type in drawers or on shelves.

4. Use wall space by adding bins like those found in kitchens to hang utensils. Add magnetic or hook and loop (Velcro) fasteners to hang items in plain view on the back of the medicine cabinet door. The back of the bathroom door can offer even more storage space with the addition of a clear see-through shoe pocket organizer.

5. The under-sink space is super-high value real estate. Use a 2-tier sliding organizer to make use of all the room under your sink, and to reduce spills and messes.

6. Minimize the amount of beauty product in your tub area. Find a shampoo and body wash that the whole family enjoys using rather than tripping over multiples.

7. Most tubs don’t have much built in storage. Add racks that hang over the shower head and offer 2-4 shelves to hold beauty products and gear. Or suspend another shower rod on the inside back wall at eye level to hold baskets that can hold even more beauty items or bath toys.

8. The 80/20 rule applies to most beauty products. We usually use 20% of our products 80% of the time, and most products get used barely at all. Decide which items are your favorites, and pack the rest away for a month. If you don’t go back into the box to retrieve any of those items, you can probably do without them altogether.

9. Repurpose whenever possible. Use mason jars, wooden boxes that were original packaging for nicer beauty products, and small tin pails from the garden department to help you sort items together and make them look nice.

10. Even simple plastic bins from the dollar store can look great if they are in the same color scheme and labelled nicely.

11. Update your light bulbs. It’s hard to organize what you can’t see.

12. If you are updating your space, ensure there are plenty of drawers to store your beauty products in. Most basic vanities don’t come with drawers. With drawers, you can easily separate your beauty stash and keep your counters clear so you have room to prep each morning.

Author: Darla DeMorrowGeneral Productivity Time Management

Round Trip Remedy: I Never Leave the House Just Once


There is a weird magnetic field between my garage door and the stoplight half a mile down the road. So often I get pulled back to my garage five minutes after leaving to gather some forgotten item. Sometimes it happens more than once on the same trip!

Do you often leave the house more than once?

Yes, I’m organized, but it still happens. Hey, no one is perfect.

I recently started investigating why this happens and whether it can be fixed.

Harold Taylor, a noted time management expert, told about how he takes a daily walk, after which he sits down to write an article or two. One year his kids got him a portable music device for his walks. He enjoyed the music, but he found that when he reached his destination, the articles wouldn’t come. What changed? His brain needed the quiet time during his walk for him to consistently write articles.

Many people today just don’t have any quiet time in their day. Certainly, those five minutes between the back door and the garage are hectic, and hectic is where chaos happens.

Hectic is where things get forgotten, accidents happen, and commitments are missed.

Unfortunately, my brain thinks the five minutes after I get in the car are my quiet time. After I’ve cleared the kitchen counter, grabbed my bags, and made it out of the clutches of little hands who want just one more hug — sitting in the car IS quiet time. With all of the household and family duties behind, my mind is captive in the car and starts planning the details of events I’m heading to and the commitments in the rest of my day.

That is when forgotten details pop into my head, usually right around the time I reach that first stoplight.

If this happens to you more often than you’d like, there is an easy fix. Actually, two fixes:

1. Checklists — Similar to notepads that some people hang on the doorknob to remind them of things to take out of the house, I have one inside my car that I check before leaving for an appointment. Going through the checklist forces me to switch gears before I leave the driveway, and at least I don’t forget the obvious items. For a client who often has a dead battery because she leaves her car lights on, I created a checklist of what to do before she exits her car with 3 things on it:
•  Turn off headlights (her car doesn’t have automatic shut off)
     •  Check teeth and lipstick
•  Grab purse and lunch bag
Could you make a checklist like this?

2. Breathe — Give it a moment, maybe in the front seat while you are still parked in the driveway. It’s easy to stay on the go, not miss a step in your day, but 60 seconds with your eyes closed, mentally running through the task coming up next might be all you need. Picture what you’ll be carrying, where you’re going, who you’ll see, and your essential items will pop into your head more times than not.

So simple, right? Simple, but not easy. If you do one of these fixes, you’ll be more less frantic and more organized. If you do both, you’ll be an organizing rock star. I think I hear your band warming up now!