Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Organization-Taming Paper Clutter

I love getting mail, but I don't love the clutter that it can create. After losing a bill or two, and seeing receipts strewn everywhere around the house, I realized I needed a system to control the clutter and get organized.

I purchased a 7 tier plastic tower at Walmart (I think they also sell these at Target), and armed with my trusty labelmaker, and advice of my organizing guru mother, I got to work. The bins in the tower are of varying sizes, so I made the smaller bins to hold smaller items such as Bills, Checks, and Stamps. For the larger bins, I made them to hold larger collections, such as recycle and shred paperwork. I also purchased a shredder to put right next to my tower.

*If you have small children, keep the shredder in a room with the door closed, and always leave the shredder unplugged and outlet covers in the outlet when not in use.*

Here are the labels I use for my tower:
  • Checks and Stamps. I also put notecards with envelopes and pens in this bin.
  • Bills. I put all my bills in here as they come in, and pay them on the 15th or as needed. 
  • Coupons. I keep most of my coupons in a coupon binder in my car, but I put coupon inserts and printed coupons in here until I can sort through them. I also keep gift cards in this bin. 
  • To File/Misc. This is for all that random paperwork that doesn't have a home, but needs to be kept. We have instruction booklets, mementos/photos I need to sort through before scrapbooking, and other random things like that. 
  • Receipts. I try to update my budget every week or two, which includes inputting all my receipts into their proper spending category. To keep from losing receipts, I put them all in here, and sort them by account and category as I update my budget/spending.
  • Shred. Anything with our names on it, such as junk mail, the labels on packages/magazines, and bank statement receipts need to be shredded. We empty out the shred bin once or twice a week. You would be amazed how many papers with personal information people just throw away!
  • Recycle. Any paperwork that doesn't have your name on it, grocery ads you don't need, or old magazines can be recycled. We empty this out twice a week, right into the recycling bin in our yard. 
Before you can stay organized, you have to get organized. For me, this process started by eliminating the clutter that paperwork created. Every single day when the mail comes, I don't stack it on the counter or by the front door. I put everything in its appropriate bin as soon as it comes in. The two minutes this takes every day will save you hours later on.

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