Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Taming the Paper Tiger – Book Review

Taming the Paper Tiger at Home Book Cover

Just about everyone has – currently or in the past – had clutter in their lives. Many books have been written (with several reviewed here on
ReviewThisReviews) about dealing with that dreaded CLUTTER, including closets stuffed with clothes no longer worn, drawers so full they won't open, and random stacks of 'stuff' that have been in place so long you no longer remember what is in the pile. 

Author Barbara Hemphill, a professional organizer, has written several books dealing with clutter. This one I am reviewing – Taming the Paper Tiger – deals with MY biggest bug-a-boo – PAPER. 

Cartoon of a desk overladen with paper
Source: Pixabay

I have managed to keep the majority of unneeded clutter out of my life, but when it comes to paperwork I tend to let days ~ yea, even weeks ~ go by without dealing with it. I can't explain it – I have all sorts of file organizers and notebooks and To-Do Lists, and even a scheduled 'day' each week to deal with it – and I'm always behind because I tend to look at a pile, turn around and walk away. Now I have 'piles' of unsorted papers stacked in several places and in more than one room. Sometimes I move a pile – sometimes I even deal with a few papers from a pile – but I never catch up! Thus, the procurement of this book Taming the Paper Tiger – Organizing the Paper in your Life!

The Book

Taming the Paper Tiger at Home book cover
Available on Amazon
Taming the Paper Tiger deals with ~ simply ~ the 'paper' in your life. This includes bills and tax information, but also keeping track of family records, the memorabilia of your family, your photographs, and your files. There is even a section on cleaning up the files in your computer. 

Key Points

I found several key points that 'spoke' to me when I first began to utilize the tips in this book to get control of my paperwork.

One tip I particularly liked was the reminder to 'forget' about the backlog.  Barbara states that to develop an effective paper management system starts with stop feeling guilty about yesterday's piles. Instead, do something with TODAY'S. In other words, start with today's mail and work backwards. 

Throwing paper away into a wastebasket
Source: Pixabay

One of my favorite chapter headings is called “Master the 
Art of Wastebasketry”. I can relate to that! I find it quite tempting to throw ALL my piles of paper into the wastebasket right now. But, no – something important and/or valuable would be lost forever.  So – onward in an 'organized' way. 

We all know about sorting into related piles your bills, action papers, reference papers, to read pile and to write pile, family records and – that very difficult to control pile because we (and the kids) never want any of their work thrown away – the children's papers. The author gives us outlines of each of these in this book, which all makes sense as soon as we (I) admit that I am a “Paperholic”. 


An image stating 'Chaos' and 'Order'`
Source: Pixabay

I have purposely kept this review lighthearted, and not gone into a lot of detail as each chapter deals with learning to control your paper and the chapter headings are self-explanatory. But paper management can be a real (and sometimes a really serious) problem for many people. Personally, I DO want (and need) to get the paper in my life under control and bring 'order' to the 'chaos', and am finding that “Taming the Paper Tiger” is helping.  

So, if stacks of papers are encroaching on your space or you frequently move piles of paper from one side of the desk (or room) to the other or you plan to 'sort' everything out as soon as you have some time, than you may find Barbara Hemphill's book Taming the Paper Tiger exactly what you need to read. Her paper management system and strategies are very helpful.

Additionally, Barbara Hemphill has also written other paper organizing books, including 'for the home' and 'for the office' and 'at work', whether you work in an office or from home.  If you need to know what to toss and how to find the rest, she also has a book about that.

Whatever your paper management needs are, Taming the Paper Tiger and Barbara Hemphill's other management system books will prove to be beneficial to anyone, like me, who finds 'dealing with paper' overwhelming.

*Reviewer's Note: The book I own is simply called 'Taming the Paper Tiger'. It is the fourth edition published in 1997. The current book available is called "Taming the Paper Tiger at Home" - Fifth Edition. Same book with expanded title and different cover.

Quick Links to Other Clutter Control Books and Organizing Suggestions Reviewed by our Contributors here on Review This Reviews

For more organizing tips and tricks reviewed here on Review This Reviews, just do a search for 'clutter'

*Taming the Paper Tiger by Barbara Hemphill – book review written by ~

Wednesday Elf

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Thanks Pat for an interesting review. I find I am much happier if I deal with paper issues each day as they come up. It is so easy to get bogged down by unneeded papers.

    1. I definitely agree, Mary Beth. My situation shows me the problems with putting off paperwork. Filing is probably my biggest albatross. :) Hate filing.

  2. In my home, the paper tiger I can't seem to catch by the tail, is books. I love books! Craft books, reference books, fiction books, picture books, travel books, etc. I have shelves of books in every room of my house AND books even double stacked (meaning I have a set of books on the shelf behind other books. I can't force myself to give them away! And now, with Kindles, it has gotten even worse. I worry that books will become obsolete and I won't be able to get any more, or replace one that I wish I hadn't given away. Unlike my craft kits, if I have the book, I have read it. Other things go undone because a book calls to me. Now, my precious Elf, tempts me with another book (one I would need to get for my husband who thinks every scrap of paper is the most important missive in his life) Secretly, I toss them when he is not looking. Ironically, he rarely misses them! But worry not! If he goes on a hunt for one, he forgets what he is looking for when he immerses himself in a long forgotten pile hidden in a cabinet and discovers a gem.

    And yes, like Mary Beth, I visit the wastebasket several times a day! Wastebasketry is one I have mastered, just not with books :)

    1. Love your thoughts on books, Mouse. Yes, I didn't even mention the books in my life - because I guess I do not consider them 'clutter'. Like you, I have books and book cases in every room and some stacked in front of more books. I also have read every book I own and about once a year I 're-read' all the books by my favorite authors whom I've been collecting for years. Throughout much of last year, when our local library was closed, I was grateful for my large collection as I immersed myself in re-reading favorites. I probably should have spent that time sorting the piles of paper... LOL. But I cannot resist reading - it's my joy in life.

    2. roflol! Choosing between books or paper piles - yes, the scales would be heavily tipped in favor of reading. I'd rather be reading! Perhaps, we should bring home a goat.

    3. A GOAT would do it, Mouse. Or a mouse! I've seen piles of chewed up paper in drawers when I've had a 'mouse' visiting my house uninvited! :)

  3. It's so funny to me that Miss Sylvestermouse mentioned a goat! Yes I have been guilty of paper pile ups and then some. It wasn't until I started to help an elderly friend that I started "cleaning up" my act. I had to get her act in gear (legal papers, tax papers, personal papers etc.) and I was able to start on my own mess. I guess that was a side benefit of helping someone else. It did indeed help me too. I can imagine that this book would be a great value to many, so I'm happy to share it with them!

    1. Oh yes, Olivia. Seeing a paper pileup in someone else's home does a lot toward wanting to get your own organized. Good point. Thanks for your visit.

  4. This sounds a useful book!I really do not like spending time on sorting paperwork. Like you I hate filing! However there is immense satisfaction when it is all sorted and filed and then we can actually find what we need! Oh yes and books are completely exempt from any sort of decluttering. Once they are invited to our home they never leave :) Thank you for a great review!

    1. Right, Jasmine. Books don't count as clutter. They are special to us readers.

  5. Oh, boy, did this touch a nerve! In my never-ending struggles against my own paper tiger, he is always the undisputed winner.

    At one point, when I was I trying to tackle one of my numerous piles and boxes of papers, I had to laugh at myself as I finally accepted that it was way past time to throw out a huge file of magazine articles on decluttering and organization I had been accumulating over the previous 20 years or so, lol!

    Hope springs eternal, however, so I may give Taming the Paper Tiger a try. Thanks very much for the recommendation!

    1. Yep, reading about organizing papers does tend to bring about guilt feelings about our own paper piles. Funny story about you saving articles about decluttering, which are adding to the paper clutter in your home. LOL.

  6. I'm an organizational maniac. But I do let things gather, until I'm ready to deal with them. Her tip about starting today and working backwards if you have to is excellent - I sometimes do that when I'm not into the bigger project. I love the feeling of being organized with paper. I'm not a fan of letting things pile up, but it happens. Sounds like a great book full of useful tips.

    1. Thanks, Barbara. Yes, I do appreciate the useful tips offered by this book. My paper piles are already diminishing, thankfully!


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