Paper Organization

Discover a simple paper system!

Too many papers are the bain of our existence in the 21st century.

There are a constant stream of mail, papers, flyers, ads, receipts, coupons, notes, recipes, permission slips, schedules coming into our hands.

If papers aren’t controlled it can literally drown you.

In this electronic age, more and more of our info can be stored electronically, however it’s wise to keep a paper record for tax purposes.

I’ll teach you how to handle paper in an easy way with 7 simple tips and a short supply list you may acquire from an office supply store.

7 Tips to Paper Organization Success:

Tip #1: Create a home for the mail.

Your “mail home” could be a hanging wall organizer, a wicker basket, a file, a box, etc.  When you get the mail, it MUST ALWAYS go in the basket!  That way you or your spouse can always find the bills and recent mail quickly and easily.

The mail center should be safe from toddlers, but a centralized location which is easy to access for you to sort papers in your daily routine.

I put my mail in a basket on a buffet table in the kitchen – not hidden in a back office far away from my daily routine.  Remember that a home is not a showplace for strangers, but a training ground for tomorrow’s future leaders.  Putting my paper center in my kitchen may not look the prettiest, however I can organize easily during the day and teach my children as well in a centralized location.

Tip #2:   Try to touch things once, or at least move each paper one step closer to it’s final home.

This means that when the mail comes in, process what you can in less than 30 seconds immediately.  For example, throw away the credit card offers and the ads you don’t use.  Then put the rest of the mail in the basket, to be processed when you have more time.

Tip #3:  Put a trash can right by your paper center.

A trash can that’s right at your finger tips is critical so junk mail may be thrown away immediately!

Tip #4:  Organize things VERTICALLY instead of horizontally – almost always.

For example, vertical files are better than horizontal stacks of papers because it’s easier to look through vertical files since you aren’t lifting a stack of heavy papers to see what’s at the bottom and vertical filing doesn’t get wrinkled as easily.  (I do break this vertical file rule by giving each child a horizontal cubby to put their school artwork in which we declutter at the end of the year and put in their scrapbook.)  But, important reference papers and schedules should be put in the child’s vertical file for easy retrieval.

Tip #5:  Create a short-term vertical filing system next to the mail basket.

Label the tabs and place the file tabs all on the left for easy viewing (NO ROTATING CASCADING FILING because it’s slower to read and takes more time to do.)

Here are some label heading ideas:

  • Ads
  • Coupons
  • Each person in the family gets a file with their name on it for important papers to reference like soccer schedules, teacher info, etc.
  • Events
  • Business
  • Bills
  • Christmas Ideas
  • Math Games & School Flashcards
  • Scouts
  • To Shred
  • Take Action
  • Vacation Ideas/Info
  • Blank Paper – writing, colored, or coloring pages
  • Stamps & Envelopes
  • Tithing Slips & Envelopes
  • January through December files labeled with the year & month (for receipts)
  • Dinner Game discussion questions

Tip #6: Filing bills & receipts can be easy when sorted by date!

In the olden days people would organize each bill or receipt under a category such as Insurance and put the insurance bill or they’d get overwhelmed with it all and just not file anything at all.

Filing by date changed my life and made papers so simple that even an 8 year old child can file bills and receipts now for their parents and make paper organization easy to do.

Find the date on the bills and receipts and then file the receipt under the correct month.  For example, a medical bill with the date 1/7/12 would go under January 2012.

Usually a person only has to look for a receipt occasionally and it’s usually within 90 days of the purchase date – so look through the months files for easy retrieval if you ever need to find a receipt.  It’s a cinch!

Label the hanging file January and the manilla file inside the hanging file January 2012.  Then when the year is over, take all the manilla files out and put the manilla files in the long-term storage banker boxes for tax purposes (since in the United States citizens need to keep a tax record for 7 years.)

Tip #7:  Here’s ideas for a 4 drawer Long-term Filing Cabinet:

  1. One drawer for family info, photos and important documents (also it’s a good idea to put these important documents in a safe or lock box.)
  2. One drawer labeled from A-Z for all your warranties & instruction manuals.  (Organize by what you call the item.  For example, if you have a Maytag dishwasher put it under D for dishwasher.)
  3. One drawer labeled for Business info such as insurance, car info, etc.
  4. One drawer for Dreams, ideas, & interesting info you want to hold onto.  Put pictures  of your dream home, vacation ideas, scrap booking stuff, etc.

Paper Organization Supply List:

  • Trash
  • Paper Shredder
  • File Cabinet drawers for long-term filing needs (2-4 drawer metal standing filing cabinet)
  • Milk Crate for short-term filing needs
  • Hanging File folders (25-100 files)
  • Plastic file tabs which usually come with hanging file folders
  • Manilla file folders to put inside hanging files labeled with same label.  (Relabeling is important in case someone takes the file- then they can put it back where it goes – and if it never comes back there is still a hanging file ready to receive papers.
  • calender
  • Phonebook
  • 7 banker boxes or 7 clear containers for hanging files labeled for the last 7 tax years.
  • 3-ring binder for a control binder

For more information and pictures click on these Control Center or Office Organization links.

You can control the papers in your home and feel organized and peaceful.

 Good Luck!

Krystal Meldrum

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