Let’s face it. Without a working system, we can quickly become overloaded and overwhelmed with paper, even when most of us subscribe to electronic versions of it. Piles of it come daily – bills, advertisements, information we need for our records, etc. Not to mention the papers that come home in backpacks – instructions, reading plans, trip details, artwork. For those of you who work for yourself and have to keep track of every single receipt, payment, and document, organization is a must. Every person needs a system that is easy to use and maintain. I will be explaining my system and why it works. But like I’ve said before, organization is great because it can be altered to fit your exact style and needs.
I’m going to explain my system for sorting and why it works. Each time I get the mail (and I mean it – EACH time), I sort through it right then, dividing it into the appropriate place. I promise you I spend less than 20 seconds doing this. Immediate sorting guarantees two things: 1. That you will not forget something that needs your attention (bills, RSVPs, etc) and 2. That you will not get overwhelmed with a giant stack of paper each week.
Immediately Sort Into:
On your walk from the mail box to the house, you know what’s trash (a zillion credit card offers, ads, etc) and what’s important. Don’t bring the trash inside. Just don’t do it! We have a recycling bin beside our back door. TOSS it then and there! Looking through it once is enough.
For those things that you will need to remember (save the dates, upcoming events, recitals, field trips) pin them on your bulletin board. Add them to your Google Calendar. Use Siri and set your reminder immediately. However you choose to keep track of events, do it. I also pin up any coupons if I know I will use them.
I keep my inbox on my desk. This is where you put those things that need your action – bills, checks, etc. You don’t need to act right then, you only need to place them in the inbox. You know these things need your attention in a timely manner, so you will not forget them. I recommend having an inbox for each adult in the home. I am responsible for my inbox, my husband is responsible for his.
To Be Filed
This is where you put those things that do not need your action, but do need to be saved for your records – information regarding insurance policies, mutual funds, tax information, etc. This is also the catch-all for items that were previously in your inbox and have been completed. You’ve paid the bills in your inbox? Then move them to your to-be-filed basket.
When You’re Ready to File
I suggest filing when your to-be-filed bin becomes full. For some that may be quarterly, and for others that may be monthly. It just depends on the amount of incoming paper.
To Be Shredded
These are documents that are no longer needed, but have personal information on them. I suggest having a specific box for shredding. We keep our “Shred” pile for times when we want a fire in the back yard. 😉
These are documents pertaining to any active policy or account. I like to use regular file folders in a file box. If you do not already have a filing system, begin by sorting documents into their appropriate accounts or categories. Once you’ve gone through them all, you can put them in a folder and label. Alphabetize in box.
Your archive should be a separate filing box that is for anything from past years, but still pertinent (i.e.old tax returns). Your files in this box should be alphabetized as well.
My kids are not yet to the age of coming home with trees of paper yet, but I understand it’s a fiasco. I’ve also spoken with many who are overwhelmed with their child’s artwork. I would suggest having another file box specifically for your kids. I would keep those papers you deem most important. For other items I suggest taking a snap shot with your camera and keeping in Dropbox or Copy or something like that. There are a lot of cool apps and programs out there for making digital collages with kids’ masterpieces. But I will say, it is okay to recycle some coloring sheets. I know our kids are especially special to us, but all their handiwork is not. 🙂
What You Need
If you are wanting to start this type of system, just obtain the following items to get started (you may have things around the house already that can be used).
- Basket for mail
- Bulletin board/calendar/Google Calendar set up
- Inbox bin (per adult). Trays work, too.
- To-be-filed box
- Packs of file folders
- Filing boxes for current filing, archive filing, and kids (you can get these super cheap lots of places and I’ve found cool ones at Target for less than $7)
Now, for those who are years behind (decades even) in filing, and this post overwhelms you, or if you would just prefer to have some help, CALL ME. I will aid in initiating a system targeted towards your needs, insuring easy and doable maintenance. Let me personally help you! (See my Page on SERVICES)