The paperwork we deal with on a daily basis can be overwhelming. Bills. Notes to call people. Kids progress reports. Kids sports, youth, and school schedules. Well, I could keep listing things, but that would be boring, wouldn’t it? Let’s just agree to say there’s a lot. Over the years I’ve tried various ways for organizing paperwork. I’ve used piles, drawers, more piles, files in drawers, binders and, well…piles. Pretty much every system reverts to piles if it’s not the easiest thing in the world to me.
I should insert here that by “paperwork” I mean things we want or need to keep, even if just for awhile. Of course the first course of action is to recycle anything we don’t need right away.
Today I’m sharing with you the system I’ve used successfully for the last five years, since just before moving to this house. It’s a wooden box file that sits on our kitchen desk. I paid $17.00 for this (way back then) which I thought was a lot of money. I bit the bullet though, because I wanted something that wouldn’t look too messy. I use decorative file folders in each slot which are divided the following ways:
- House/Garden & Activities (adults and family)
- Computer, Library, Blog
- Child #1 : ______’s Activities & ____’s Report Cards
- Child #2: “______’s Activities & _____’s Report Cards
- General School Info.
There are a few others thrown in there and it’s easily changeable to make work for your life. In fact, when the kids were in elementary school, there was a lot more paperwork from the school, so they had a school folder then as well as report card folder. In the upper grades I’ve found one general school file folder is enough. So I’ve adapted and changed through the years.
Here are a few ideas of what to keep these folders:
- House/Garden: plans for yard (my crudely sketched drawings), articles I want to keep within easy reach, natural weed killer recipe, research for a new appliance.
- Activities: reservations, directions, itineraries, etc.
- Computer: passwords, printouts on how to do something, sites I want to visit (usually torn from magazines).
- Library: Passwords and info to use the online library and books I find in magazines, catalogs, etc. that I want to check out. I just collect the little scraps of paper in this folder and dump them once I have put them on hold.
- Blog: Just info on a lot of different things I’d like to learn and remember. I also use a spiral notebook next to my computer, so this doesn’t get used that much.
- Kid’s folders: school notes, homework in progress, announcements, report cards, notes home, etc.
The box can sit two ways: with the file openings up, or with them on the side, like I have it on the desk. It works on it’s side for us because it perfectly holds our family calendar and a pen next to it. See what I mean about me needing easy? I don’t even want to have to get a pen out of the drawer.
Of course, we’re limited in the size of calendar we can have and we don’t get to look at the pictures, but since I always get a free one they’re usually smaller and I definitely don’t want to look at the pictures.
And my patterned file folders? You can find them lots of places, but these I got from the Dollar Tree. There were three in a package for a dollar, I think. Because these are visible to anyone who comes to visit I like how they look nicer than plain manila ones.
And of course we still get piles once in awhile, but it usually only takes a few minutes to file or recycle things once I decide to do it. (That’s key, isn’t it?) This has really worked well for me and though I wish it weren’t so visible, one benefit is the other members of my family can easily find and file things as well. It’s kinda nice to be able to say, “Look in your file slot,” or “Put that in your folder.” It gives them some responsibility and let’s me off the hook…for a little while, at least. And since we always know where to look for these things, so they don’t get “lost” as often as they did before I started using this file box.
What system have you found to work for you – or have you?