Organizing Newspapers

Dear Kathi,

My home is overrun with newspapers and magazines. We read the local newspaper and also subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. My kids bring home other papers and magazines. What should I do with all of this reading material until it is read? It is constantly scattered throughout the house.

Jill, Rancho Santa Fe


I was interested when you wrote that you read the local paper and subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. Does this imply that you don’t really read the Wall Street Journal? I pose this question because many people subscribe to newspapers and magazines but never find the time to read them.

Newspapers and magazines are mess-magnets that spread themselves throughout the house causing paper pile-ups.
Take a step back and consider what papers you really do read. Do you subscribe to papers seven days a week but rarely read anything but the Sunday paper? Consider if it makes sense to minimize your subscription to weekends only.

A paper / ink- free solution is to read your news online. Almost every major newspaper has free Internet publishing. You will save time and be able to read more because you will no longer have to collect and chase loose papers scattered throughout the house. Another great perk of reading online is you can easily and instantly email interesting articles to friends.

If you like coffee houses, why not leave home a bit early each day and read someone else’s newspaper? You will have quality time to read the paper and then leave it for someone else to gather up and recycle.

If all of these ideas fail, it is time to implement a “reading basket”. I advise my clients to buy a basket that neatly holds 8.5 x 11 size papers. This basket should have a handle and not be too deep or oversized to make it easy to carry around the house. The key to these baskets is to make sure they are constructed only 6-8 inches deep, not ‘black hole’ baskets where papers go in and never come out until they overflow!

When you receive papers that you want to read, toss them into your reading basket. When you receive your newspaper, place only the sections that you wish to read into the basket. When you receive a magazine, tear out the articles of interest and recycle the remaining book.

If you have many family members with different reading interests, get a basket for each person. Each person should be solely responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of their own basket. To be useful, each basket should be read on a weekly basis. Only articles that you really want to read should be added to this basket. Following this advice makes it a treat to look into your basket, because you know there are interesting things waiting to be read.

If you can’t give up reading the paper, at least give up saving it and take it regularly to the recycle bin. Don’t let yourself or your home get buried in paper.
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