Managing Paper

Managing Paper

CTO-SM-Stat (1) - 40 more paper

It comes from everywhere – junk mail, magazines, coupons, kid’s school papers, bills, etc. Then there is the issue of keeping papers that really could/should be tossed or shred. Here are some questions some of our readers had about how to handle stacks of paper and implement a system to keep paper from piling up again.
Thanks for asking Kathy!

Is a filing system in my home office important? – AJ

Having a file cabinet or desktop file will give you a place to store papers you need to keepOnce you take your paper piles through that I have mentioned below, you’ll want to make sure the papers you need to keep are filed. Not only will a good filing system prevent paper pile-ups on your desk or countertop, a good filing system is important for finding needed information later, when you need it. I suggest breaking your file into four, color-coded sections:

  1. Financial section: Use green hanging folders and manila folders with left-hand tabs.
  2. Insurance/Vehicles section: Use blue hanging folders and manila folders with left-hand tabs.
  3. Personal section: Use yellow hanging folders and manila folders with center tabs.
  4. Home section: Use red hanging folders and manila folders with right-hand tabs.
For a complete description on how to organize a home file cabinet, check out my contribution to this BH&G article! 

I want a system to manage incoming paper but I don’t even know where to start. Can you help me? -NF

When it comes to managing incoming paper, establishing a routine that works for you is far more important than any product or sorter you can buy. Either dealing with paper for five minutes a day while your kids are doing homework or 30 minutes on a Saturday morning are great plans if it keeps you caught up!
Create an official spot to collect incoming paper like a corner of the kitchen counter, living room side table or a wall-mounted basket just inside the door … but only one spot!
When you are ready to sit down and begin, try these steps for effective and efficient paper management:
Open and discard all envelopes.
Lay app the papers flat.
Circle or highlight printed due dates on bills.
Review every paper and divide them into piles.
Immediately decide what you are going to do with a piece of paper or document … are you going to trash it, shred it or recycle it?
For some more suggestions for keeping your fridge from looking like a cluttered museum, visit our blog.
What is document retention? Why do you use it? -MH
Document retention is simply understanding how to organize your papers. After bringing papers into your home, you first want to go through the steps above, then immediately decide what you are going to do with a piece of paper or document … are you going to trash it, shred it or recycle it?
  1. If a document needs someone else’s knowledge or response, decide how you will notify them, give it to them … maybe give everyone in the house their own mailbox and mark pages with colored markers or colored sticky notes.
  2. If you have papers still remaining, sort them intothree groups: things to review, calendar items and events or outstanding bills. Then, schedule and pay, right then!
  3. Lastly, any paper that hasn’t been trashed, delegated or acted on needs to go into a long-term storage file, drawer or box. For setting up your home filing system, I think this resource from Better Homes & Gardens will be a great resource for you.
Wa-la! I hope this advice will help your piles stop and help you have control over endless paper pileups.

Are you already anticipating tax season? Visit our blog for some suggestions to get organized for tax season.

For more paper management advice, get your FREE copy of Kathy’s contribution to the Secrets of Getting Organized magazine’s “End Paper Pile Ups Now”.

Kathy Jenkins is the President of Come To Order, a residential professional organizing company in Richmond, VA.  As a Certified Professional Organizer®,Certified Family Manager® Coach, Love & Logic Parenting® Facilitator/Coach andStudent Organizer, Kathy especially enjoys working with kids and their families to help them learn good organizational skills that will benefit them for a lifetime.  To learn more about Love & Logic Parenting, follow Kathy on Facebook.

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  1. Having one spot where paper comes to is such an important concept! It’s much easier to keep up with your paper when you establish that spot.

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