Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy
Most of our bills/statements are online (there are a few I need paper copies of for tax purposes) and we have cut down as much as we can on the mail coming in but we still do not have an effective system for keeping order with all the papers!
Right now we throw the junk mail in the recycling immediately, but there are so many other pieces of paper that we need to keep for whatever reason, if not long-term then at least for a few months. They end up all piled on a shelf and I never get around to sorting it and it's just overwhelming now. Plus, DS inevitably makes a mess of them or tries to draw on them, so not only is it visual clutter but also not particularly safe-keeping.
So what system do you all use? We can't really afford to buy something but I could probably make something, I'm just not sure what would work. I guess we need something we can keep in the main living area (papers will never make it upstairs to the filing cabinet, except maybe on a once-every-other-month basis). I figure we need a compartment for stuff that needs attention (unpaid bills, things that require follow-up phone calls) and some way to sort the rest of the stuff. I need something easy to use and that will look OK on the shelf in our living room (or maybe hanging on the wall??) Or maybe I don't need an actual paper-sorting thing but just a better way to handle it as it comes in?
I am still very, very much a work-in-progress when it comes to paper clutter, but I am slowly getting better.
Some of the things I have found that work for me:
- Starting a home management binder
- For unpaid bills: 100% of our bills are paperless. We have an email address set up specifically for bills, which makes it easy to keep track. Our very last paper bill finally went paperless this summer, hooray! I use the Undated 5-week blank calendar template found at The Household Planner website, title it "Bill Schedule", and keep a generic monthly calendar with all the bill due dates written in, kept in my Home binder. If a bill falls within a certain date range (for example, our gas bill fluctuates by 2-3 days) I wrote the earliest possible date it would be due on the calendar. Then I sit down once or twice a month (usually once), and pay all the bills at once, through BillPay and other various online payment methods. Half our bills are on automatic payments (the ones that are the same amount each month), which also makes it easier.
- To keep track of things I need to do (follow-up phone calls, appointments that need to be made, etc), I use the Daily Docket. I use my iPhone calendar for all appointments, events, etc which syncs to our iMac (Yes, we are a huge Apple family, something I realize does not apply to everyone!). I have gotten much better at entering things in to the calendar, even if I don't necessarily plan on attending. For example, I see a flyer at the library for an upcoming special event...rather than take a copy of the flyer which will end up in a clutter pile, I add it to my calendar on my phone, with an alarm set for one week before, so that I have enough time to decide if it issomething we really want to go to. It took me a very long time, but I have definitely joined on the bandwagon of how incredibly useful a smartphone can be to help streamline and organize paper clutter.
ETA: to-do lists are on my phone, too. Or in my Daily Docket, stored in the home management binder. I especially love the Target app, which will even tell me what aisle number to go to for each thing on my shopping list!
Hope that helps!