I am on a quest to simplify my life (and everything in it), which in turn I hope will keep me organized and peaceful.
One step I take to reducing clutter is to not collect it. Easier said than done because when it comes to clothing and shoes, I cannot do without them on a daily basis. But not over-buying in this area is very helpful (it is one thing to buy two pairs of favorite jeans and quite another to buy more shirts than you can wear that season).
From personal experience, I know it is a given that at some point my clothes/shoes/ourses/jewelry will no longer be my preferred style, worn out, in disrepair or ill-fitting. As this happens with each piece, I will “Clean Sweep it” and decide if it goes in the trash, can be donated or re-sold (if I want to take the time). One thing I am working on is not letting any of the piles become to large and take on a personality of their own by taking care of them in a timely manner.
When people giving me stuff I do not want, will not use or see a potential as a dust collecting knick-knack, I politely refuse. On Move This House! Roger asked, why keep another family member’s stuff if it isn’t your style? Good question, Roger! Guilt. People, especially Catholic Grandmothers will guilt you into taking their stuff, even though they do not want it or are not using it without recognizing that you have no use for it. Rather than be burdened, emotionally, with how to deal with unwanted items, I refuse it or get rid of it and refuse to feel guilty for it. If I am asked about what happened to XYZ, I shift the conversation to remind the questioner that she did not want it and leave it at that.
As for paperwork, I file the necessary papers for the recommended length of time, but some paper does not need to hang around as long and gets shredded. The key here is already being organized in how I want to handle the paperwork, making it easier to not collect that which I have learned I will not need in the future. I also only have 5 accounts in which I get monthly or quarterly statements, so I have less paper work to file than if I had a handful of credit cards, bank or IRA/401k accounts. I am not saying this works best for everyone, but like anything it is a measure of time and worth.
For the last year, I did not get any magazines. Prior to that, after I read a magazine I offered it to my coworkers and if it made its way back to my desk, it got recycled, not taken back home. I do not request any catalogs, the ones that do make it my way, I flip through and recycle. With Internet shopping, if there is something I want in the catalog (highly unlikely given my shopping habits), I go to the web site. I eliminate having a pile of magazines and catalogs that become taller than the arm of a chair!
When it comes to household items, I acquire and keep that stuff which is decorative, only if it is useful. The Halloween towels were a good choice for my mom because she likes being festive, but she can use the towels (although I bet she thinks they are too pretty to use!). I like and use chairs. I would not like or use ceramic figurines or any other knick-knack that collects dust and/or is scented.
By reducing the collection from the start, I do not have to carve out time to cut a major amount of clutter.