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Paperwork! Reading Material . . . The Fun Stuff

Books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, catalogs – we all get buried in stuff we WANT to read or look through, but it comes in faster than we can read it. Reading material adds exponentially to our paper clutter but handling the reading material makes a huge difference in how overwhelmed we feel.

For lower priority reading material (the fun stuff) let your container determine how much reading material you keep. I recommend a tote bag for magazines, catalogs, puzzle books, and other lower priority reading. Take the bag with you in the car for when you know you’ll have “waiting” time. Bring it in the house so you’ll have it when there is time to read a magazine or look through a catalog – like when “Frozen” is playing for the hundredth time, or the air fryer is doing its magic.

If you’ve got puzzle books, coloring books, etc., they can just be tossed when you’re done with them or donated if there are enough unused puzzles or pages. This goes for kids’ consumables, too. I kept activity books separate from reading material when my kids were small. It kept children’s books free of unsolicited artwork and penmanship practice. Two or three activity books per person is probably enough.

The cool thing about catalogs is also the worst thing about catalogs -- you can’t make them stop coming. Pitch all the back issues of your paper catalogs. I promise you’ll get another one. Then, when the next one comes in the mail, before you start looking through it, determine if you need to buy ANYTHING. If you don’t need anything, throw the catalog away. Once your paper clutter is under control, you can start browsing catalogs for ideas instead of automatically pitching them.

Magazines, newsletters and newspapers might have articles or reference material that you want for work, school, personal development, or hobbies. The latest issue goes in your reading bag with a pair of scissors and 3-5 file folders. Typically, folders for work, school, hobbies, and personal development will cover most needs. Once you’ve read an article and determined that you need to keep it, cut it out and place it in the right folder. The folders will fill up with resources you have already read so you can find and use them. Then the magazines and papers can be tossed or recycled. Notes can be jotted in your planner or “brain book.” (See Brains! The 'Brain Book' Journal (

Back issues of magazines and stacks of newspaper need to be pitched, donated, or recycled. I know you think you might need information in them . . . but let them go. If you just can’t, give yourself a 30-day deadline to find the articles you need and place them in your file folders. If you don’t make the deadline you will know that they didn’t make the priority list in your busy life. It’s okay. Let them go.

Books, fiction or non-fiction, can be passed on after you’ve read them. Containers come into play here, too. Bookcases are the logical container for books. Your books need to be in bookcases – not boxes in the garage or attic, and not stacks on the floor. If the thought of paring down your book collection is too much, I recommend you read the following article: Breaking The Sentimental Attachment To Books (

Next time we will talk about higher priority reading material, i.e. handouts from the doctor's office, work, or school.

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