Do you find that a lot of paper comes into your home? Between mail, school papers, magazines, and bills, it can be hard to stay on top of all of it. Here’s an idea for a simple system to stay on top of the papers.
This has been working well in our home to process papers each day, so they don’t pile up and become clutter. This is designed to be a simple process so that it is easy to do. What I like about it- it gives a place to the papers that you can’t immediately recycle, but you also might not keep long term. So much of what comes into our homes fits into this category of things that need to be kept temporarily, that it makes sense to have a place to put these papers!
All you’re going to need for this is a few file folders and a convenient place you’d like to keep them.
Let’s get started.
- Label 1 file folder for each member of your family who receives papers.
- Have another for bills that need to be paid.
- Make one for things to discuss.
- Put the file folders in a central location like your kitchen or in a command center.
Daily Process – Mail
When you bring in the mail for the day, immediately recycle anything that can be recycled. Then put any bills that need to be paid in that folder. Put the other mail in the folder for the appropriate person.
Financial statements or other documents that need to be filed more long term can immediately be put in their long term home, such as in a file cabinet in your home office, or you can create a ‘to be filed’ folder that you can keep with these files.
Daily Process – School Papers
When kids come home from school, immediately have them empty their backpack. Papers you need to hold on to for a while, like a sheet about an upcoming raffle, can go in their folder.
Ask the child to tell you about any artwork they bring home. As a part of that conversation, you can find out which pieces feel important to save and which can be discreetly recycled. The artwork that you save can be put in the child’s folder or you can have a spot in your home where you display it for a while before deciding whether to keep it.
Once a week, set aside some time to discuss the papers with your spouse that are in the ‘things to discuss’ folder. Pick a night to consistently do this and have it be a part of your weekly rhythm.
On another day of the week, sort through any papers in your file and ask your husband do the same with his.
Review the bills folder for any that are due soon and need to be paid.
Clean out the kids folders for any papers that are no longer needed. Artwork can be cleared out once a week or once a month. You may wish to have a plastic bin or file box to store artwork on a longer-term basis. Take a picture of any artwork that you are unsure about whether to keep it or toss it. Then you have the freedom later to make a book of those photos if you wish.
One way to hold yourself accountable to these tasks, is to schedule each of them as reoccurring appointments on your calendar. That way you’ll have regular reminders to keep this going and it will become a habit.
A few minutes at a time
Winning the war on papers happens in a few minutes a day. The key is staying on top of it. It’s much easier to do in small batches than to wait and let it pile up. What are your favorite ways to tame the paper clutter?
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