By Rita Wilkins
The Downsizing Designer

How much time do you spend each week looking for…

  • An important document you thought you filed
  • A client email who responded to your proposal
  • A photo on your phone you wanted to share it with a friend

It’s frustrating, isn’t it? And think of the time you wasted.

When you think of clutter, you probably immediately think of the physical clutter in your home… the closet, the basement, garage, etc.

But, in fact, 3 of the biggest areas people struggle with and complain about are:

  • Paper Clutter
  • Phone Clutter
  • Photo Clutter 

In this blog, I’m going to reveal 3 fun tools that will help you conquer clutter in those 3 areas.

Think of it this way: if you have a toolbox in your home, it’s intended to help you accomplish a specific task. You use the right tool for the right job.

Similarly, there are tools you can use to defeat paper, phone, or photo clutter. These tools, when used properly and regularly will lead to a simpler, more organized, and productive life.

You’ll no longer need to waste time and energy trying to locate those important papers, emails, or photos. You’ll have the right tool for the job.

You might be asking, where you should start because you struggle with all 3 categories?

I always recommend that you start with the category that you struggle with the most for the one that bothers you the most.

If your nemesis is:


1.   Paper Clutter

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the unwanted and unsolicited paper clutter. Each day we receive catalogs, junk mail, flyers, credit card solicitations, and so much more.

A simple tool you can use on a daily and weekly basis:

In your mind, create 3 piles:

1.   Don’t want

Discard or shred

2.   Don’t want or need

File and digitize it

3.   Would like to keep

Digitize to create a memory box

Then, perhaps your biggest challenge is…


2.   Phone Clutter

You are definitely not alone in this category. Like you, I have wasted valuable time and effort with a device that was designed to make it simpler, more efficient, easier, and faster… not more complicated, causing frustration and stress.

A simple tool you can use to help you defeat phone clutter will take a little time but is well worth the time and effort.

The big cleanup: Minimizing your apps

1.   Delete all apps that you do not use.

Be brutal with them and have only the apps that you use regularly.

2.   Organize the apps that you do use.

Organize them in a way that makes the most sense to you.


    • By Type
    • By Function
    • By Alphabet… whatever works for you.


3.   Delete all voicemails, texts, and contacts that you no longer use

Until recently I had never done this and once I decided to remove all of the voicemails, and texts that were outdated, and once I chose to update my contacts, it was incredible how much more storage I had on my phone and how much easier it made my life.

Last, but certainly not least:


3.   Photo Clutter

1.   Photos on your phone

Clean out the photos that you’ve saved on your device. Instead, save them to the cloud and make sure to turn on automatic backup so you can retrieve them if you lose your phone.

2.   Physical photos

I’ve talked about this many times in my blogs because the thought of going through boxes and boxes of photos, a lifetime of memories is just plain daunting… and emotional.

What happens is that we avoid this clutter until one day we have to face it because we realize if we don’t, it will be left to our kids and grandchildren.

A simple tool you can use to declutter your photos is time blocking.

Once you’ve decided to take on this project

Once you have taken the time to create a goal for just how many physical photos you would like to realistically keep i.e., two shoeboxes

Time-block a schedule for 30 to 60 minutes each week to work on one box at a time, to sort, organize, and discard duplicates. Make a schedule that you can and will commit to each week.

Don’t expect overnight progress. This project takes time but can be easily managed when you block out time on your calendar each week.

And remember you don’t have to save all physical photos. Use a digitizing service or smart photo manager.

When you use these 3 simple tools you will be able to manage your paper, phone, and photo clutter so you have more time in freedom to pursue other things that are meaningful to you.

Check out our new online shop

for tools that will support you in your downsizing and decluttering journey.

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Rita Wilkins bio