May 16, 2012

Mavis Tackles Paperwork

Today Mavis and I will tackle that most insidious of all household evils--papers. You know what I'm talking about--junk mail, school work, announcements, statements, newspapers. It all adds up until you feel like your furniture exists solely to provide a place to stack it all. It's time to take control.

My first piece of advice is to invest in a filing system. It could be an actual filing cabinet, a drawer in a desk, or even an old milk crate. Just be sure you have labeled, easy to access files for your various things, such as utilities, car, medical, phone, taxes, banking. My husband and I found a 2 drawer filing cabinet that a business was tossing out. We also picked up a couple of paper trays from a thrift store. When the mail comes, I immediately dump all the junk mail into the recycling bin next to the desk. Everything else is opened--outer envelopes, fliers and ad inserts, and anything else I don't need goes right into the recycling. Bill pay stubs are torn off and put with the return envelopes in the "Bills" tray and statements are put into the "To Be Filed" tray which we empty and file when it gets full. (This goes against Organizer Wisdom which says you should only handle each paper once, but it works for us.)

When the kids bring home school announcements, I write all the pertinent information on my giant desktop calendar that's hung on the wall and the flier is tossed. If I have to keep the paper for some reason, it stays by the calendar so I can find it again. When they bring home graded papers, I look over it all and recycle them as well. I only keep really unique artwork and original stories and they go into a bin I have for each kid just for keepsakes.

If I get restaurant coupons or take out menus to places I actually go, I put them all together with a clip magnet and hang them on my fridge so I can see them at dinner time. Recipes should be put in an index box or a notebook. If you still have a recipe from 10 years ago because you "might want to make it someday"--get tough and throw it out. If you ever do get around to being ready to make it, you can most likely find the recipe online.

We subscribe to an entertainment magazine (for me) and a Highlights magazine (for the kids). I read mine from cover to cover, write down the titles of any books that sound interesting from the reviews, and then--you guessed it--recycle it. (I'm from the Northwest. What can I say? I'm big on recycling.) The kids like to read theirs over and over (okay, it's mostly just Bubba) so I keep them all in a basket. When they start to get worn, I toss them as well.

The trick with all this is to keep at it. It doesn't take much for the papers to gang up and attempt a household coup, but if you take care of everything immediately, it's that much easier to stay one step ahead.

1 comment:

  1. We have most of our "paperwork" under control. I have a problem in the area of my "genealogy paperwork." Still haven't quite figured out how to get the stuff I am currently working on organized.

    You have though encouraged me to clean out my recipe notebook. I have one that needs to be weeded out desperately. I may just take that with me today in the car and while Larry is in a meeting I might just sort through it.. Thanks for the reminder.