Paper Trails

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One of the most difficult things to get a handle on is the never ending trail of paper that ends up at your house.

You’ve got mail, notes from school, notes from all of the various activities your family is involved in, and papers you generate yourself every time you print something from the computer.

How do you keep on top of it, organize it, and find what you need when you need it?

(I once kept my brother in law waiting for days while I turned the house upside down looking for the title to the car he had just purchased from us.)

Here are some ideas to help you trim your paper trail down to a manageable size:

Get your supplies together:

You’ll need a shredder, one basket or box for each family member’s papers plus one for your in box and one for to be filed, and a filing container. You can get all kinds of cool stuff at the office supply store (one of my favorite stores – I’m weird, I know) or you can use what you have around the house.

Cereal boxes are the perfect size for holding papers. Cover them with contact paper or scrapbook paper. Let your kids draw their own designs and glue them on.

You can use something simple for your files if you need to. There are accordion files that are small and easy to store, or you could just buy some file folders and use another cereal box until you can get something better.

Next, attack your paperwork, and be prepared to do this in steps, not all in one day.

Take everything that has accumulated and put it in one basket or box or a plastic bag if you need to.

Sort through it looking for anything that has a time frame attached to it, like a bill. These will go in the box of the person who handles the bill paying.

Done. Now that you’ve removed anything with a time frame on it, the rest of these papers can wait and be sorted a little at a time, like when you’re watching TV.

Each day as papers come in, they go in the in box. Teach your family this.

Then choose a time each day when you will deal with the in box. While the kids are doing homework is a great time.

Sort through the papers. Shred or toss anything you’re not keeping. Put the rest in the proper box, handling anything that you can right away. Got a permission slip in your in box? Sign it and have your child put it in their backpack when they finish their homework.

Find your husband’s latest copy of Guitar magazine? It goes in his box.

Got the title to your new car in your in box? It goes in the to be filed box. Filing is a good Sunday evening task as you’re getting ready for the new week.

And what about those tickets you ordered for a concert in six weeks?

Put them in your underwear drawer. 🙂

Really. I used to have a friend who sold Home Interiors and when she would give one of her hostesses a gift certificate or something that would be redeemable at a later date, she would always say “put it in your underwear drawer. Then, when you can’t find it, call me and I’ll know where you put it.”

So that’s what I’m telling you: put things like tickets that you want to find later in your underwear drawer. Then when you can’t remember where you put it, just email me. I’ll know. 🙂

Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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