Here are some tips for handling paper and reducing clutter, courtesy of Kate Massie, professional organizer and owner of Organized Beyond...

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Here are some tips for handling paper and reducing clutter, courtesy of Kate Massie, professional organizer and owner of Organized Beyond Belief in Pittsford, N.Y.

• When reading your mail, use a highlighter to emphasize key information, such as dates, names and due dates. This will shorten the amount of time needed to review and decide whether to toss it later.

• Are you unsure how long to keep some papers at home? Get permission to throw them out or store them for tax reasons. To find out what papers should be stored and for how long, go online to: www.bankrate.com/brm/news/bank/19990714a.asp.

• If you have tons of sticky notes on your desk from phone messages, try using a spiral notebook as a phone log to store information about incoming calls. Date the top of each page, and you’ll have an organized record rather than clutter.

• Reduce the amount of junk mail you get. Send a postcard or letter to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY, 15012-0643. Include your complete name, address, ZIP code and a request to “activate the preference service.” For up to five years, this will stop mail from all member organizations from which you have not specifically ordered products. The Direct Marketing Association estimates that listing with their mail preference service will stop 75 percent of all national mailings.

• Don’t fill out warranty cards. They’re just a means of gathering names for direct mail lists. When you buy something, you’re covered by the warranty whether you fill out the card or not. Just save your receipt for proof of purchase.

• For unopened, unsolicited first-class letters, just write in bold letters “refused — return to sender, remove from mailing list.” Also cross out the bar code so it’s not returned to you, and then place it in your mailbox. The original sender will have to pay the postage.

• For bulk-rate mail, check to see if it says “return postage guaranteed.” If it does, you can simply do the same as you would for first-class mail.

If it doesn’t say this, check inside to see if there is a return envelope. If there is, simply write on that envelope, “remove from mailing address, don’t sell or trade address,” and send it back to them.