Win the War on Incoming Paper

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Series: 10 Tips | A Little Organization Can Save You Time, Money and Sanity!

Last week we talked about how to avoid becoming a meal time monster by storing recipes, using grocery lists and making menus work for you! Today we're going to focus on PAPER! It's everywhere. Don't fool yourself. As a Trained Professional Organizer, I see that we live in a digital world and yet we still have piles of paper coming into our homes.

paper everywhere
Image sourced: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2009-04-13/Dispatches

From the iHeartOrganizing Blog

Jen from the iHeartOrganizing Blog shares fantastic ways to organize your child's paperwork. But we're not going to stop there. What about the rest of the papers? Every family should have a system to make sure their paper gets dealt with appropriately.

Step 1: Deal With It as You Get It

Jen makes a great point here. As soon as your darlings have given you a massive squisher hug after school, tackle the papers. Wrestle them to the ground, pull out everything that has to be addressed, read the papers, sign the papers and and put the papers back into the back packs right away.

Step 2: Make a Task:

I would add this step, make sure to use your calendar. Did you just sign a form for a swimming field trip? Better make a task to remind yourself to send the swim gear! It is best to record everything you commit to in the system that work for you!

Step 3: File it:

Jen has created a file system for the kids on-going papers like homework and reading books. We also have that in our home, and it's a great way to always know where the homework is and how much is left to do.

Developing a good filing system is the key to winning the war against paper!

Step 4: Create an Archive System:

Jen started with a binder system to house all the keepsakes from school, but soon realized that was not big enough. So she created a file system. Jen inspired me to re-create our system! Ours now looks a lot like hers. I bought a large plastic file bin and hanging folders. I love how Jen makes hers so fun!

Step 5: Transition File:

I added a file in my regular cabinet for each of the kids. That way I can put the really great works of art in there and it's still in the decision stage. At the end of the school year. I look through the whole collection and decide what really makes the final cut. That way too, the kids don't assume I'm keeping everything they bring home. It's a great way to teach priority, like I shared in Stop Tripping on Toys, Get Them Cleaned-Up in Record Time!

Art Wire

In our home, we put all the master pieces on our "Art Wire" so we can admire our kids handy work. When something new comes home, the kids have to decide to recycle an item or put it in the "transition" file. This helps to teach them we have to make hard decisions about loved items.

Art Wire

Sort Mail over the Recycle Bin

Only keep the action items, such as bills or cards. Everything else, such as flyers, should immediately go in the recycle bin. It sounds harsh, but take 30 seconds to look over the flyers, mark sales on your calendar and then recycle. Otherwise the papers will gang-up on you and drive you insane.

If you need to also sort your desk papers, jump over to my post on How a Clean Desk Can Make You More Money!

The 2 Week Policy

What about the more personal mail? We tend to get a lot of cards and letters as well. I'll keep it for 2 weeks, in which time I should have read it or enjoyed the card, then I recycle/shred it. I love to get cards and letters, but we just can keep those forever. (Unless of course it's really special, then it will make it to my Memories Box).

Join us next time for How to Run Out the Door & Have Everything You Need! Among other things, create pre-packaged bags to eliminate the stress of leaving the house in a hurry.

Here is a list of all the posts in this series!


Annalisa Sawatzky is a Pastor's wife and Mother of 2, who holds a Bachelor of Applied Design in Interior Design. Annalisa became a Trained Professional Organizer, and in 2012 started…

Learn more about Annalisa Sawatzky