The kids came home from their first day back at school after Christmas break with lots of paper—homework, newsletters, forms to be filled out, completed assignments, etc. Plus, there was a big stack of mail to deal with. With six people and assorted animals living under one roof, the paper clutter can get out of control pretty quickly. So read on to see how we manage it:
- Deal with the mail right when you walk in the door. Your goal is to get rid of as much of it as you can.
- Put all the junk mail in a pile.
- Put magazines and enticing catalogs (Hello, King Arthur Flour!) in a specially-designated magazine pile for future reading.
- Open all bills, letters, etc., and put the discarded envelopes on the junk mail pile. I keep bills that need to be paid paper-clipped together in my in-box, but you might prefer to stash them away in a folder. Just don’t forget about them!
- If something needs to be written on the calendar, add it right away. So if you get a party invitation, write the information on the calendar and then RSVP right away. If you can’t make a decision yet, clip the invitation or event info to your calendar. Another good reason to clip invitations to the calendar is so the information is right there when you need it.
- Recycle everything you don’t need. If you have space, you could use a nice IKEA-type container for this. I don’t, so I walk a few steps into the mud room and toss everything into a paper grocery store bag. And when it fills up, I toss it in the large recycling bin in the garage.
- The most important thing is to deal with as much of what comes in the mail as you can right away. If you get a notice from the dentist about an appointment and you realize the timing won’t work, call right away to reschedule. If you can’t, then jot down “call dentist” in your planner and do it first thing tomorrow. If you find yourself hemming and hawing about something, remember the rather annoying, but true, maxim that “Procrastination is failure to make a decision.” Man, that really is annoying.
- Finally, keep a large file folder handy to store paperwork that you need to hang on to for a while. Stuff like income taxes, insurance information, and investment statements. Recently, I had to fill in a form for Layla’s rabies vaccination, and it was nice to be able to go to her folder and pull out the information.
- If you have kids, you’ve probably noticed that they come with a lot of paperwork. The easiest way I’ve found to keep it all straight is to designate a folder for each child and then keep the folders in one place. I use an old basket (pictured above), but there are lots of options out there. I like the basket because it’s easy to grab each folder quickly, but you might prefer a binder.
- What’s in each folder will depend on the child, but the important thing is to clean it out periodically. You might include medical information that you want to have quick access to, sports schedules, and field trip information.
- I also have a folder marked “Kids,” where we keep things like pre-printed notes for excusing absences, an envelope with school photos to tuck into thank-you notes, and letters or info that apply to all the kids.
- Think of the folders as a mid-level storage place between your in-box, where you put things that need to be dealt with immediately and…
- Art Bins. Each of our kids has a large plastic bin for artwork and other things we want to save for posterity, like congratulatory certificates and newspaper clippings and concert programs. When the bins start to overflow, it’s time to go in and weed out a few things.
I hope this helps! If you have other ideas that work well for you, please share them!