Saturday, February 1, 2014

"Wow! You're a Big Family!" Controlling the Chaos Tidbit #6-Paper Clutter

I am not the world's best housekeeper.  Not even close.  I kind of pick and choose what I clean.  (Until certain things get so gross that I can't stand to look at them anymore.  Like the inside of the microwave.  And the patio doors.)  But there are certain things that I do try to tackle everyday because not doing so would drive me batty.

Like paper clutter.  It seems like it's one of those things that where if neglected, it starts multiplying.  Between bills, newspapers, coupons, calendars, kids schoolwork, junk mail, and magazines, it just grows and grows and grows.

 My best tricks for trying to keep it contained:

1.  Have a place for things beforehand.  For me, this kind of boils down to a couple of things.  I have a 3 ring binder that organizes our life.  It has my master calendar, a section for school related papers (like schedules and lunch menus), a section for phone numbers, and a section for information for baby sitters.  I have a dish drainer that I use to organize the papers I most often use.  (Unpaid bills, Zeke's Shriner's stuff, and insurance forms are 3 files I have in there right now.  Plus a miscellaneous folder for those random papers that don't really merit a folder of their own but that you know you will need.)  The slots for the dishes are just the right side for keeping a file upright and I use the silverware basket to hold my unpaid bills, a checkbook, and address labels.  Our dining room has a built in desk area with drawers for filing which is where I keep the paid bills, warranty information, insurance policies, etc..  I also have another binder that is for my coupons.

2.Only touch it once.  I try to only touch paper stuff once.  This means when I bring in the mail I quickly sort out the junk mail from everything else and put it in recycling.  The bills I put in my bill holder until I am ready to pay them.  Invitations go into my binder and get written on the calendar.  School lunch menus get punched and put into my binder.  I have a file for insurance paperwork, a file for Zeke's Shriner's stuff, etc. so that I can quickly put those things away.  I try to deal with papers as soon as they enter the house so that I can avoid the dreaded piles of paperwork.

I also try to follow those two tips when I deal with my papers from my kids' school.  Each of my school age kids have a clipboard on the end of our desk space.  When they unpack their book bags, any papers get clipped to the clipboard.  The papers stay there until I am ready to look at them.  Then, I recycle what we aren't keeping, send back to school what needs to go back, and file anything that looks important that I might want to keep for them to look back on.  We also have a display wall in the hallway with clipboards where the kids can display their papers.  Each kid has two clipboards.  This means they can only hang up two pictures at a time.  That means they have to do some thinking about what they want to display.
This is a real life photo.  Note the large box on the floor, the messy winter clothing, and the half erased chalkboard.

And what to do with those papers you want to keep for your kids? At our house, each kid has a large box in the basement.  Any papers they want to keep get placed in the box.  I do try to date the pieces but other than that, there really isn't any organization to the boxes.  I just toss the papers in and I'm hoping that one box will be sufficient for each kid through high school.

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