The following is a guest post about organizing paper from regular contributor, Morgan from Morganize with Me.
Recently, when I asked (via a survey on my blog), which area of your life requires the most attention and organization – “paper” was listed as one of the top areas. It was in the top three, rightfully so.
I’ll be the first to admit, that I too struggle in the area of paper management. And let’s be honest, organizing paper isn’t as fun, or as pretty, as the many other areas that we can work to organize. Nevertheless, it is essential to keep paper organized. And in doing so, we can minimize the stress that comes from paper overload.
Today, I’m sharing five organizing paper tips with you. These five tips can help you to stay better organized, when it comes to all things paper. My encouragement is to work on implementing one tip at a time. Work on taking baby steps!
#1 – Carve out a regular time to purge, organize, and file paper.
I recently spent a half-day going through our stacks and stacks of paper. Our paper had significantly accumulated last year, due to our international move, selling a home, buying a home, registering the kids in three new schools, and needing to establish everything in our new home and city. ALL of these transitions and changes equaled to LOTS of paper.
Blocking out a chunk of time to address your paper, will allow you to get it all organized in one sitting. Considering your amount of paper, determine how often you need address your paper, specifically when it comes to purging, organizing, and filing. This can be scheduled on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even annually basis. It will really depend on the systems that you have in place and how much paper you have to process. I usually do a big re-organize about twice a year. This works well for me, with the systems that I have in place.
#2 – Create in an “In & Out” system.
In order to not lose important papers and to know where to find things when you need them, set up a working In & Out system. Then make sure to teach your family how to use it too! We use our baskets mostly for incoming and outgoing mail and for those things that we need to return to the store and/or library.
#3 – Commit to recycling often!
You’ve probably heard that you should only touch a piece of paper once. Well, one of the easiest ways to follow this simple tip, is to recycle things as quickly and as often as possible. Junk mail, gone. Duplicates, gone. Outdated info, gone. (Keep your recycling area close to your In & Out system and you’ll make this an even easier habit!)
#4 – Coordinate one central command center for organizing paper.
Whatever you want to call it: a command center, family hub, or landing pad, just make sure that you coordinate one! A place where everything can be corralled and contained. When paper comes into our home, it quickly makes its way to this room and then to the designated spot that it is supposed to go.
I use the two chalkboards to list dinner menus and our weekly schedule, the In & Out baskets, that we already talked about, and the message board (below).
This message board is a great way to keep current paperwork visible, in a simple and organized fashion. I keep information posted here, things that I need to refer to regularly. We have six clips, each family member has one, and then the sixth one is used for any current coupons. (You can see the steps for making one right over here.)
#5 – Construct a “To File” folder.
Finally, for the paper that you need to keep long-term, you can see my recommended guidelines here, construct a folder and have it easily accessible within your command center. Then when you are working during your regular time of organizing all things paper (tip #1), work on filing those papers away. Make sure that you keep your files streamlined and only file paper that you must keep!
Morgan is the energetic and motivated, but also realistic girl, behind Morganize with Me. She is a list lover, fitness fan, and chaos controller! Her mission is to share tried and true techniques that she hopes will encourage her readers and clients as they focus on their health and homes. Be sure to check out her Shop full of fabulous organizing printables!