There are 3 things in our home that require constant attention: Laundry, Dishes and Paper. These are never “done” and require constant attention – otherwise they turn into big green monsters that take over our homes. The key to keeping them contained is twofold: Systems and Maintenance.
For this article we are going to focus on paper, however, the principles can be implemented into any area of your home that can get out of control if left unattended.
First the system. Anything that requires attention needs a system for it to be easy and efficient for the person or group that needs to attend to it. For today, we’ll use the example of paper. Paper is constantly coming into our homes, and unless we have a system to disperse the paper and eventually have it find its way outside of the home it just accumulates until it morphs into that big green clutter monster that nobody likes.
Here’s a simple way to systemize paper:
- Create a home for every piece of paper in your home. The truth is that we don’t have that many categories of paper coming in, so creating homes is not as difficult as it sounds. Here are some examples:
Bills go into a small accordion file
Coupons go into another small accordion file
Magazines go into a magazine rack
Important documents go into a filing cabinet or safe
The list is longer, but hopefully you get the idea.
- Homes for paper are not final resting places! If you don’t put systems in place for the paper to find its way out of your home – then it never will. This is key! Your home for your bills should never fill up because you are paying your bills. The home for your magazines is never full because you are reading your magazines and then recycling them. The home for the paper you file away never fills up because you have a “forever” category for filing as well as a shred in 6 months and shred in one year category.
- This leads us to Maintenance. Another key to systemizing your paper is a routine to actually move the paper along. Here are a few examples (Note: this is where self-discipline is required):
When you get the mail is when you distribute the mail e.g. trash goes into the trash, bills go into the accordion file, important documents get filed or scanned, coupons get put into the coupon file, magazines get placed into the magazine rack – and old magazines are recycled. When done on a daily basis this takes no more than 15 minutes a day.
Mark your calendar for when you will next shred your 6 month and 1 year papers.
Set a time of day to go over paperwork brought home by the kids and decide then if the papers need to be recycled, shredded, go back to school, put up on the communication board, filed in your 6 month files, 1 year files or forever files.
I can’t stress enough the importance of consistency when dealing with paper. It’s always coming in so you have to be consistent in making sure that it finds its way out. Setting up systems that give you homes for everything and a routine to move it forward is always a winning combination for keeping the paper from becoming a clutter monster.
So there it is in a nutshell. Of course, I go into greater detail, but we’ll leave that for future posts or comments by our readers 🙂