We are still drowning in papers!! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 09-24-2012, 12:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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#2 of 9 Old 09-24-2012, 01:59 PM
 
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I have manila envelops for stuff I have to keep, and a couple of plastic totes. Next to my desk is a small-ish tub that has the immediates in it - husband's check stubs, rent payment receipts, etc. In the totes are things that get (should) get filed once a month to clear off my desk - car maintenance receipts, medical stuff, etc. Papers get put their envelopes, envelopes go in the totes, lids go on, totes go back in the closet (or wherever they are going to be stored). It's not a perfect system, but it's working for now.


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#3 of 9 Old 10-15-2012, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Bumping this up.... thanks for the response Monkeygrrl, still looking for a few more ideas...

I guess the biggest problem is papers we need to access short-term (like I have a stack of blood work orders and I can't get the blood drawn 'til next week, and there are papers about my 401k that I still have to roll over within the next few months). Then the 'file' papers (bank statements etc.) get lost in the pile of stuff, and then there are the to-do lists and DS's artwork... I just can't get a working system.

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#4 of 9 Old 10-15-2012, 03:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

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!


 

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#5 of 9 Old 10-15-2012, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I wish I had an iphone (or something similar) -- that would make life a million times easier I think!!

Most of our bills are online but some do not have paperless options. (Why?????? What century are we in???)

Can you tell me more about a home management binder & what might go in it? That sounds promising for us!

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#6 of 9 Old 10-16-2012, 05:03 AM
 
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Here are a few links that got me started. Mine is not as complex as some of these, but I pulled ideas from many of them to create one that works for us. I use Simple Mom's Daily Docket, Household planner's blank calendar, Newbee's Contact lists, Anything but Perfect's meal planners, and Home Your Way's emergency, medical, etc info. sheets.

 

http://home.yourway.net/using-a-home-management-notebook-the-ultimate-guide/

 

http://www.imperfecthomemaking.com/2012/03/my-home-management-binder.html

 

http://www.thenesteffect.com/2011/09/home-management-binder-finances-and.html

 

http://simplemom.net (Her blog is a huge resource!)

http://simplemom.net/making-a-household-notebook-work-for-you/

 

http://www.newbeehomeschooler.com/homemanagementbinder.htm

 

http://anythingbutperfect.com/2011/09/free-printable-week-day-lunch-menu-planner/


 

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#7 of 9 Old 10-16-2012, 11:56 PM
 
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I'd recommend a "tickler file" for things that have future actions or a periodic review associated with them. This is a system of 31 day folders that you use for the current month and 12 monthly folders (contents to be sorted into the day folders when that month arrives). It is specifically designed for you to have a place to put those items that need attention on a specific date this month or X months from now.


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#8 of 9 Old 10-17-2012, 10:43 AM
 
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I have a tickler file and find it to be very useful. And you can just make it yourself. http://www.simplify101.com/organizing-paperwork.php

 

The only thing is that you have to develop a habit of checking it every single day to move the folders. Otherwise the system breaks down.

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#9 of 9 Old 10-17-2012, 05:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Very intrigued by the tickler file, I've never heard of that! I think I could simplify it for my family just by doing weeks, or even only the 12 months of the year... there isn't generally much stuff I need to keep track of to the day. Cool idea!

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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