Households are bombarded with paper on a daily basis. Bills, statements, pay stubs, calendars, schedules, menus and permission slips seem innocent enough individually, but when joined with the other piles of unattended paperwork, they can form an army that overwhelms even the best defenses. But you shouldn’t feel defenseless against this persistent warrior. With an organized plan of attack and some disciplined strategy, the paperwork enemy can be conquered and tamed.
First, take a look at the type of paperwork that’s overwhelming you the most. Is it those bills that go unpaid when you can’t locate them? Is it the mounds of artwork your children have lovingly created and decorated your refrigerator with? Maybe it’s the constantly changing soccer schedule or troop meetings.
Once you determined the most invasive paper culprit or culprits, it’s time to line them up and sort them out. A successful filling system has three main components. A file for those things that need to be acted on immediately, one for those that are part of a household’s ongoing management, and one for those that are more infrequent but nevertheless crucial, such as tax records, insurance policies, wills, and home maintenance documents.
When conquering the paperwork monster, make a promise to yourself to deal with each item the first time you handle it. Get out of the habit of rifling through your mail and tossing it aside. Set aside time each day to open mail, go through paperwork in your inbox and sort and file appropriately. Decide if each item is something to be paid, something to be done, or something to be filed. At the end of each week, take out each file and respond appropriately by paying the bill, responding to the request, or moving items that need to be filed into their permanent locations. Of course, if you know something is urgent and can’t wait until week’s end, clip it to the front of your file box or place it in front in a folder labeled Urgent and act accordingly.
Save telephone time by keeping calendars, schedules, take-out menus and phone lists into clear page protectors in a 3-ring binder. Flip through the household notebook to quickly check meeting dates or find phone numbers. Create your own forms, or use our free printable Household Notebook forms. This is also a great place to put correspondence addressed to the entire family. Organize magazines and newspapers into baskets kept near couches and living room chairs for people to look at during their free time. Be sure to keep in the habit of sorting through this on a regular basis and filing those magazines you decide to keep and tossing old newspapers and magazines you wish you toss.