Hi friends, today let’s talk a little bit about paper clutter. Specifically I want to talk to those of you that might have paper piles randomly scattered all about. Hey no judgement, it happens. And don’t worry, I’m going to help you process those paper piles with a simple kitchen command center. Paper can be so overwhelming because it just keeps coming. Month and after month, whoot there it is. Bills, school artwork (so much artwork!), schedules, lists, receipts, taxes and on and on. Here are four action steps to get all those papers under control and managed so you can rest easy. We aren’t letting paper win here. Not on my watch!
These steps don’t have to all be done in one day. I guess it really depends how much paper you have and how much time you’ve got on your hands. Conquer it all in one day or do a step a day. It’s up to you! It’s time to Gather, Grind and Grin! 🙂
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Gather It Up and Sort It Out:
First things first. Time to walk your house and collect all the paper piled up on surfaces and/or stashed under the bed (my husband’s trick!). GATHER it all up. Check your dresser, your nightstand, your fridge, your cupboards, your kitchen counter, heck maybe even your bathroom counters. Look high and look low. Around and around you go until it’s all stacked in one huge pile. How tall is your pile? Measure it for fun!
Now take that one huge pile and plop yourself down in front of the TV. Okay that’s a bit bossy. You can plop yourself down where ever you like. I prefer in front of the TV because this next step is pretty monotonous. It’s time to sort it out. Get yourself some broad categories. We don’t want to end up with 50 different piles. Maybe 10 to 15 sub piles tops.
Here are some category suggestions:
- To File (long term filing)
- Action (paper with an action associated with it ie: bills to pay, forms to sign)
- A pile for each of your kids
- Reference (ie: schedules)
- Take-out flyers
Grind It Out and Get It Done:
Okay that was the easy part. Now it’s time to really get to work. And by work I mean make a decision or two and I realize no one wants to do that. Which might explain the piles in the first place, ha!
GRIND: (informal definition) ~ laborious or routine work
Yes this task is definitely a GRIND to do. But also if your piles are out of control you need to GRIND them down (see what I did there?) as much as possible. You don’t have to or need to keep everything forever. Please refer to the following articles for how long you need to keep important documents.
There are many different ways to go electronic with much of the paper that comes in now. Bills and bank statements for instance can both be set up to receive online. When a bill is due they can email it to you for payment. Check with your financial institution as to what is available for you. The more you can go electronic the less paper you have to manage.
Go ahead and pay any outstanding bills, sign those permission forms from school, add dates to your calendar or planner.
Kid’s paperwork and artwork can be tough to make decisions about. These tips from Kathryn at Do It On a Dime are awesome and will give you some great ideas for what to keep and what to toss. Watch the video below.
I actually use the same memory box system she does for my three kids. That post can be found HERE.
Now that you’ve got your individual piles whittled down as much as possible it’s time to containerize what’s left. We do this in hopes of avoiding the pile problem going forward. And this is where you might be tempted to over complicate things. Don’t do it! The goal here is to keep it simple. All you really need is somewhere to collect paper, both a temporary and permanent solution. As a temporary solution, I recommend a file organizer placed in a prominent place somewhere in your home. We’ll call this your command center. We don’t want it tucked away in a bedroom or in your basement. Keep it somewhere like your kitchen where you spend a lot of time and can easily access it. Don’t have counter space? Put it on the wall.
It doesn’t have to be boring either. These lemon folders make me so happy! (link below)
Here are some tools you’ll find helpful:
Paper/file organizer (this is the one in the pictures in this post)
File folder labels (removable ones)
Side note: This is my office closet (more about it HERE) and where I hide my ugly filing cabinet. This is plenty of space for my long term storage especially since my taxes are kept in the white binders above.
Set up a file folder for each of your categories. The reason I recommend removable labels is to allow you to change your mind over time. Post it notes work too. As you become use to what needs to be filed and what doesn’t you can easily change your categories.
Next time you bring mail in, take it directly to your command center/paper station. Either open your mail immediately (what I recommend) or take care of it when you’ve got a few minutes while dinner is cooking. Open your mail and THROW the envelopes away. I don’t know why people want to keep those envelopes but it only adds clutter. You don’t need them. Then toss the junk and file the rest in the appropriate file you’ve got set up. Always make sure you have an ACTION file and get in the habit of checking it daily. Get your kids to drop school papers here as well right after school.
You’ll notice in the photo above that I actually keep my long term papers to be filed in a box on top of my filing cabinet. You do what works for you!
A calendar is always nice to have in a command center but you know I recommend this big family calendar for your fridge. Especially if everyone in your household isn’t using the same digital calendar.
Grin Away and Put Your Feet Up:
If you are familiar with my PROCESS steps you know that the steps end in a smile. So I had to continue that here because I’m a dork and these things make me happy :). Instead of a smile though we’re ending with a GRIN for a job well done. Simple and done is always the way to go!
Gather, Grind and Grin. You’ve got this! Got any questions? Let me know! I’d love to see what your kitchen command center looks like. Tag me on Instagram!