In this case, pictures tell a thousand words.
This basketed pile of papers...
... is gone, replaced with nice clean empty counter space.
This messy sprawl...
...is cleaned up and organized, with a system I hope prevents future piles from forming.
In case you are curious, the system involves vertical file folders stored in a simple magazine storage box, with labels to make them easy to identify and grab.
Based on the paper I found around my house, the folders I made are:
Upcoming Events: For things like tickets, invitations, brochures about upcoming events we might attend.
Completed school work folders for each of my kids, to stash the stack of work they bring home each week (making it easy to pull out and show to Dad, Grandma, etc.) Then at the end of the month I will toss the lot, except for maybe one or two special things for their scrapbook (see more on that below.)
This Week: For papers that need to be dealt with this week that would otherwise almost certainly be on my countertop somewhere. Like this week's spelling words, a bill that needs to be paid, the article my mom sent me that I haven't had time to read yet. Every Monday morning I'll empty this folder and start again.
Decisions/Actions needed: For papers related to "in-progress" projects or decisions. Some examples of what's in this folder right now: The quote from the solar panel guy, the order form for the kids school pictures, the pet insurance brochure from the vet.
Coupons: For the unlikely event that I remember to actually use one of the coupons I save.
Dinner: To stash the copies of my by-aisle shopping list, and any recipes I pull out of magazines for making this season.
In case you are noting that this set of files is incomplete for all the paper you have in your house, I should note that I already had a more permanent file storage system for each year's bills, statements, and other important records. The new vertical file I added was for the papers that always seem to be "in transition" through my kitchen.
The solution that works best for me for the more permanent filing is to buy an accordian style pocket folder where I stash bills, statements, and other important records for the year. At the end of the year I zip it up, stash it in the garage for storage, and buy a fresh one for the new year. I don't have a desk and file drawer in my house, nor do I have room for one, so this more compact and mobile system works better for me than traditional filing cabinets.
Finally, I made progress on the piles of school art and papers that have been piling up.
I am using a Becky Higgins style approach for the artwork, creating a 3 ring binder for each kid, with dividers for each school year. Then I use page protectors to showcase the highly edited collection of art and school papers, documents, school class pictures, etc, from that year.
I used my scanner to duplicate a sampling of papers and reprint in smaller sizes to fit a lot of work into a compact space.
In addition to showcasing samples of schoolwork and art, I'm also tucking in some photos of the child from that year, and using pockets or envelope pages to save ribbons, the family Christmas card, the school class picture, report cards, notes from grandma, etc.
I need more time this week to get totally caught up on these binders, but I feel good about the progress I made.
Whew! Thanks for hanging in with me to the bottom of this overlong post with way too much detail. Paper week was a big success. I hope my experience with it was helpful to you. Have a great week.
On to Week Five...