Thursday, June 21, 2012

Organization - Winning the never ending paper battle

We recently added a huge piece of furniture to our family and it has exacerbated an already losing battle. It is a beautiful post master's desk with a nice flat surface area. I don't know about your house, but at ours where there is flat space there is paper!! We have mail coming in everyday, school papers for Ethan, church papers from all of us, receipts and coupons.
The Post Master's Desk
While reading Tsh's book "One Bite at a Time" I was inspired to rethink how we handle paper in our house. Project 7  in this book was to downsize your book and magazine collection, 8 was managing your mail and 9 was streamlining your receipts. All of these tips made me want to tackle our paper problem. With all of these categories I think the first thing we all should consider is what comes in to our house. Tsh talks about the fact that if we stop the paper before it makes its way in to the house then we don't have to organize it! One of the things I need to get better at is not bringing home receipts. More than half of the receipts I'm handed during the week can be put directly in the trash!  The same thing goes for mail...before you set the mail down in your house sort through it and throw the trash away immediately!

Note - This is not technically a "before" picture since I took the huge amounts of paper out before I took it.

We have a organizing device on our desk, but it never seems to organize anything in a way that is accessible. I've fixed that by coming up with categories of paper that comes in and I've made folders for these categories. Now the folders can be pulled out and papers can be filed and accessed easily!  For me this works better than a "home notebook".  I like everything in one place, but I don't want it all together all the time.

School folder with calendar taped to the outside.
A place to keep all of our school handouts.  I'll bring this folder with me to school meetings and such.
Final organized desk! 
My folders include:
  • River's Edge - a place for school newsletters as well as handouts from meetings and such.
  • Correspondence and bills - a place for all bills or other piece of mail that needs a response from me.
  • Money - we don't get bank statements by mail, but I do get quarterly reports from Philip's retirement plan and occasionally we get other important financial papers.
  • Love folder - this is not done, but having it here helps to remind me to work on it!
Down at the bottom is also my half-size clipboard that holds sermon notes.  To the right of this desk there is a notebook on the bookshelf that contains room for papers dealing with current projects.  Currently it has a folder for coupons and one for the boys birthday party.  Next to it is a small notebook where I can keep receipts that need to be kept for a time (birthday gifts and such).  Also not shown is a magazine holder for all of the magazines I need to look through (save that project for another day).

I know none of this is new, but I hope I inspire you to tackle your paper problem.  We will see how well this works in the upcoming weeks.

Does anyone have tips for school papers??  In the fall Ethan will be in Kindergarten and I know he will be bringing home worksheets everyday.  I know he worked hard on these, but we can't keep them!  Do you have a grace period before you chunk something?

1 comment:

Betsy said...

AAhh... the paper trail. Just when I thought I was mastering it, we started school (me and the kids...).

Here's our imperfect-but-works-for-us school papers system: I have a giant 3-ring binder organized as follows: subject tabs plus a general school tab. I kept every worksheet for the first semester per advice of the school in case there was ever a grade dispute (not a big deal in kindergarten, but I figured it was good practice). At the end of the semester, Elf got to pick 5 favorites and I picked 5 favorites. Those I kept and ditched--um, recycled--the rest. Same for artsy projects that couldn't be 3-hole-punched and stuck in the out-of-sight notebook.

Incidentally, I filed them on Fridays as I went through her Thursday folder and also pulled pages for the upcoming week. I just stuck them in my "to do" file until then when they came home earlier in the week.

For BIG projects (posters and such), I took a picture of the proud creator with the project. Some day those projects will get surreptitiously recycled as well :-).


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