Monday, July 11, 2011

READER REQUEST: Paper Management Systems


This post is dedicated to one of my readers who requested a post on organizing all the paper that comes in her house. If you have a request for a specific organizing solution or have a question, please let me know and I may blog about it!

There are many solutions to the paper over-load problem. The first step is to figure out what papers are the clutter culprit. To do this, go around you house and focus on all the papers that are lingering where they shouldn't. Is it school work that's sent home? Mail? To do lists? Receipts? Magazine clippings? You get the picture. Figure out what the problem is, then you can find a solution that works for you.

Here are some posts that I've already written about some potential paper problems and possible solutions:

  • Instruction Manuals  This is for those who either find manuals where they are not supposed to be or can't find them when you need them.
  • Desk and File boxes  This post tackles papers that need to be filed somewhere (like a card that you want to keep, a recipe that needs to be put away, etc) or papers that need to have something done with them (like put a date in your planner, sign your child's homework, etc).
  • Recipes  This is a post on how to organize all those recipes that end up all over.
  • To Do Lists This post is about how to manage your to do lists well.
  • Receipts If you have receipts floating around your home, read this post!

OK, now down to business. Here are some tips to make sure all those papers that enter your home don't get in the way of enjoying your life:

  • Address it as soon as it comes in. Sort mail as soon as you bring it in the house. Throw away any papers that come in that you know you don't need. Use this rule especially for junk mail. I never even bring it in my home. I sort through the mail on the way from the mailbox to the house and stop by the recycling bin on the way in and toss the junk in there.
  • Create a system. Have a designated home for each kind of paper. Put all the mail in its spot. Keep any time sensitive mail (like bills or invitations) in its own place. Fight the urge to just drop it anywhere - you'll end up paying for it in time and energy in the future. 
  • Use file folders. Have a child in school? Keep a file folder of his or her papers that come home.  Stick those papers in as soon as you get them if you can. If you can't get to it right away, put them in a "to file" bin and do it as soon as possible. Keep a 3-ring binder close by to put any homework, writings, drawings, etc. that you want to keep as a memory.
  • Pay bills online. Not only does this keep the clutter out of your house, it saves trees and energy.
  • Separate your papers.  Try to keep like items together. Keep all the bills together. Keep all the items that have to do with your planner or calendar together. Make sure your school paper pile just has school papers in it. You get the idea.
  • Cork boards are fabulous! I keep a cork board right beside my desk. It's for papers that don't really have a the fandango gift certificate I have and the paint color of my kid's room. 

Still have a question? Email me or comment below your problem area and I will try to find a great solution for you! 

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