This weekend, a friend asked me for advice about what to do with all of the pages she tears out of magazines. She has stacks of tear outs she sets aside with the intention of coming back to, but finds that without an easy organizational system they remain in stacks, unused and forgotten about.  

What could be inspiring new meals, craft projects,
and adventures in the city 
are instead stuck collecting dust and taking up
precious table space

Read on for the 3 solutions I shared with her.

Do a reality check

Reflect on the kinds of things you tear out and be realistic about what you intend to come back to.  Keep some categories and give yourself permission to get rid of others.
For example, my reality check revealed that I don’t use recipes I tear out.  When I make food, I search online for recipe.  Upon reflection, I realized that I don’t get meal inspiration from my tear outs, so I’ve stopped tearing them out.  Instead, I pin them on my pinterest board.
Your reality check will reveal something different, but I’ve done this process with enough people to confidently say that there’s at least one category that you collect purely out of habit or for “that-day-when-I-finally…” that isn’t likely to happen.
Perhaps this is the time to let go of this category of tear outs.


Go digital

If it’s important to you to continue to collect snippets from publications, then consider shifting to a digital approach.
I love Pinterest for this very reason.  It allows me all the pleasure of hoarding articles, design and project ideas, recipes and inspirational quotes that pique my interest without taking up any physical space. Because Pinterest is naturally organized, its easy to distribute collectibles into categories. Most importantly, retrieval is super simple. I find this system to be much easier to maintain and interact with than stacks of paper because I’m on my computer so often anyways.

Another digital option is to use a desktop scanner, such as the NeatDesk scanning system.  They’re pricey, but if you’re serious about limiting the paper clutter in your life, you’ll find this an incredibly user-friendly system.  It’s also a great way to digitize bills, paperwork, business cards, receipts, and anything else that piles up. It scans documents in and creates searchable documents so that you can retrieve documents by searching key words. Ah, the wonders of modern technology!


For those of us who are inherently tactile and prefer the feel of fingers on paper, I suggest a binder.  Set aside some time to go through your stacks.  Get yourself some binders, tab dividers, and sheet protectors.
Put some music on, and have fun with it!  Sort your tear outs into large categories, like recipes, travel, gadgets, articles to read, etc.  Then, if you find that you need to further subcategorize, do so.  Use different binders for each category and label tab dividers for each subcategory.
If binders aren’t your jam, try file folders or an accordion filer. Whatever makes it easy for you to give these papers a home and to access them when you need to.

On an unrelated note, thanks to those of you who responded to my last video newsletter in which I shared how I planned an organized routine to prepare myself for the Brooklyn half marathon.  I’m proud and relieved to say that I completed it this past weekend! I’m so grateful to my incredibly supportive family and friends.  Take a look at this clever sign my family made 🙂

Happy Organizing!