Dealing with the paper clutter

It is incredible to actually stop and think about the amount of paperwork we receive on a daily basis. Despite living in a digital world, and receiving so much of our information via email, there still seems to be a never-ending influx of paper! In today's post, I want to show you my organised method for dealing with our paper clutter.

This picture may look familiar to you -- this is our haul of paper on a daily basis. And this type of paper clutter can definitely build up if it's not dealt with straight away.

So how do we deal with this kind of clutter and put systems in place so it doesn’t end up in an overwhelming pile of tasks? I know some people who deal with all their mail at the end of the week, others who open it once a month, and some who just refuse to open their mail at all!

I personally have always opened my mail every day, but don’t always feel like doing the required jobs then and there. I realised I needed a new filing system for the incoming paper, when I found these ‘to do’ items piling up over the course of the week/month, and taking up valuable space on my kitchen bench. 

These were the requirements I felt would enable me to maintain the new paperwork system effectively:

  • A designated folder for each family member (my 2 kids and 1 for my husband and I)
  • A place to store jobs that needed to be done until I found the time in the week to complete them e.g. bills to be paid, replying to invites, filling out forms etc
  • A folder called 'move to its home' for all those little items that come in daily that need to be filed away e.g. receipts, paid bills, manuals, cards etc.
  • A way to easily see if I had jobs that needed completing
  • A place to store my planner, laptop, ipad and pens

I saw a great idea for a system on A Thoughtful Place that looked perfect for me and met all of these requirements!

First up was the fun part - shopping! I found a range of colourful manilla folders at Typo -- you could find these in most office supply stores. I also bought some cute washi tape from Officeworks. For those of you who have never heard of washi tape, it is basically a thin colourful tape that can be removed from any surface without leaving a sticky residue. I love to label with washi tape and now have quite the collection! 

I labelled each file folder with the following headings: To Do, Move To It’s Home, Lucas Action, Eva Action, Jo & Damian Action.

I then searched high and low for a file with 3 compartments that would fit A4 files but annoyingly could not find anything I liked - they were either too bulky, not big enough, or didn't have enough compartments.

So I enlisted the help of my wonderful Dad who is very handy and has made a number of pieces of furniture in our house. He built something bigger than what I’d originally imagined, but it is actually perfect, as it packs a lot of storage punch!

I painted it grey/blue so it would stand out atop our white Ikea corner shelving unit, which is also our 'charging station' for our phones and ipad (we just clipped the chargers to the side).

The back section of the file holds the laptop and ipad, for quick and easy access, and all the empty folders. When I open the mail and have a job that needs to be done, I pop it into its corresponding file and move it forward (into the middle section), so I know there is a job waiting.

For example, my son's kinder registration forms were filed in 'Lucas Action' and are sitting in the middle section so I know I have a job to do. It is a great visual reminder. When I have completed the job and the folder is empty, I move it to the back again, so I know I have no tasks awaiting action.

The front section holds my daily planner, and the corner is filled with pens and textas that I grab regularly (I just propped a bit of cardboard in there so they could stand up).

My new daily system is open the mail, recycle any junk, and then put any paper-related task in its corresponding file to be dealt with once a week - usually on a Saturday or Sunday. I find the ‘move to it’s home’ folder the biggest time-saver. I love to start the week with all the folders in the back of the unit and all jobs completed!

Learn more about managing your paperwork in my online course 'Making Your Paper Work'. Click here for all the details ->