Paper Management - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 02-03-2005, 04:04 AM - Thread Starter
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I thought maybe we could share some ideas about how we handle the reams of paper that flow through our lives. I have certain systems that work really well for me, but others that are just awful...

Things that work:
  • Monthly bills and receipts - I have thirteen hanging folders (twelve for each month and one for tax-related stuff and major purchases) and one financial binder.

    Each month I file every bill, bank statement or important receipt in the appropriate folder. I file the tax-related stuff separately so it's easier to find during tax time. At the end of the year, I transfer all the contents of each hanging folder into a labeled manila envelope. Every year, I shred all the documents that are seven years old. For me, this has been the easiest way to keep my financial files well weeded.

    The financial binder holds everything related to loans and investments. I keep these separate since they are more long-term types of financial transactions.
  • Recipes - I have a big old binder with dividers for different types of meals. If a recipe is something that I like and will make again, I type it up and put it in a plastic page protector. Otherwise, I clip recipes that are just interesting and put it in a manila envelope that is at the back of each section.
  • File Cabinet - I have it set up so that I have categories, subcategories, then individual file folders with papers in them. The categories are labeled with a hanging file tab on the left side of the drawer, the sub-categories are labeled with a hanging file tab in the middle of the drawer, then all the individual file folders are right-cut tabs. This way when I open the drawer, all the files line up perfectly and it's easy to see where a particular piece of paper belongs.

So much for the things that are working... Anyone have ideas for handling papers when they arrive? My inbox... er, I mean, inboxes are all over the place and overflowing.

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#2 of 7 Old 02-03-2005, 10:15 AM
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Here is a site that tells you how to get removed from mailing lists:

That should take care of reducing the amount of junk mail you get. This and the organization of my clothes are my worst areas as far as decluttering goes. I've tried handling the mail as soon as I get it. That was the most successful until I would get a bunch of mail on the same day that needed "action." Then I just got overwhelmed. Maybe I have ADHD (I've read this is a symptom)?
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#3 of 7 Old 02-03-2005, 10:21 AM
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I like getting the mail and opening it outside. Junk never comes in. Or in the minimum, the kitchen bar. I toss the outer envelopes to bills and junk immediately.

This may sound so stupid, but for me, the best way to keep down theclutter is to pay my bills on time. Then I don't get the extra mail reminders. :

I like the motly filing. Much easier than mine of section "utilities" and subsection of "gas" "electric "phone" I haven't actually done it yet, I might have torethink my new lables.

I have one folder for medical. I have a flex spending account so there are 2 sections, filed and pending. I have a basket on top of my desk for incoming bills. I have a binder clip around the bills that get paid next.

I never saw this tribe before, it is where I belong!!
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#4 of 7 Old 02-03-2005, 11:40 AM
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Yes! Monthly is great. Dh and I just switched to a similiar method.

We have large manilla envelopes with the month written on the front: "JANUARY 2005" and at the end of the month, it gets clasped and put in a box with the rest. If I need something from that month it is very easy to find. As soon as a bill gets paid I write "Paid on X/X/2005, Ck. #1" And if only a portion got paid, I write how much. (Having the check number on the bil has helped so much the handful of times I needed to go and check about it. Rather than going back through all the records to find the right one, I just go to that bill. Good stuff.)

Honestly, this is the only thing that is working really well for me as far as taming paper. I open mail immediately and ditch the junk. I have a basket that used, but with one side still blank paper goes in so that we can use it for printing things that don't need to be on pristine paper.

Sometimes I feel desperate to find somewhere that recycles office paper like my college did. Haven't found it yet. Maybe I'll post for suggestions.
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#5 of 7 Old 02-03-2005, 02:19 PM
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I use this system for most of my paper/mail management

I have a holder with dividers that say:

To Read
To Respond
To Pay
To File

And I also have the months in it for items that fall into a certain month that I need to be reminded of.

Once I complete whatever needs to be done with it I toss it or file it in our filing cabinet.

The items I put into these slots get taken care of once a week so it doesn't build up.
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#6 of 7 Old 02-05-2005, 01:02 AM
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does anyone do online bill with no paper bills at all? I think we are heading towards this.
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#7 of 7 Old 02-06-2005, 10:04 PM
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I pay my bills online now too. I love it! We use bank of america.
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