If you are anything like me, you struggle to handle the piles of paperwork that come into your house. Between the mail, the school papers, and all the fun drawings my kids do throughout the day, we get buried in papers. A few years ago, I got a great piece of advice from another mom. Prior to this advice, I had a designated place in the house where I put paperwork and the pile would just continue to grow. When I couldn’t handle it any more, I would finally go through the papers (wasting an entire afternoon).
Here is the advice that changed the way I handle piles of paperwork:
Never touch a piece of paper more than twice!
This sounds so simple doesn’t it? But think about it. How often do you move papers from one spot to the next until it ends up in a pile that just grows? I know I did.
I consider the first time I touch the paper to be when I get it from the mailbox or from my child’s backpack. The very next time I touch it , I must put it where it is going to live (hopefully not my counter). So where should it live? This is a hard question too, right? Where do we put all the piles of paperwork? First, ask yourself, why do I keep so much paper? For a long time, I kept almost every piece of paperwork and thus, never wanted to put it away because filing was a nightmare.
So here’s my method that has truly given me peace from the madness.
If it is something my kids made, drew, wrote, it is so hard to get ride of. But really, I can’t hang onto everything or we will have no room to live. So I do one of three things. I enjoy it for the moment and then recycle it. I take a picture of it with or without my child and put it in a photo book at the end of the year. They love looking at the pictures and I enjoy having the memory without all the clutter. Or, if it something so special, I keep it in a file for the kids when they get big. Each child has a special box with folders for each year. I place it in there as a fun thing to look through when the kids are grown. I use the same method for what they do at home and what they do at school.
Mail, this is the worst. You get a new pile every day. As soon as I get my mail, I go through it. Don’t wait. Do it at the post office, on your way back in from the mailbox, or as soon as you get in the house, but do it right away. I go through and take out everything I know we don’t need or even need to look at and throw it in the recycling right away. Instantly the pile is much more manageable. Next, open up each thing and make 4 piles; recycle, shred, file, and to do. To make filing even easier, I have one folder that I put any papers that I need to keep for the year. I don’t keep much. I shred almost everything. If I can get it from my accounts online, I don’t keep it. So my keep file is pretty thin and papers are easy to find if needed. No need to organize them any further. The only papers left are bills or things to do. I set them on my desk until I sit down to send out bills which I do about once per week.
Handling all the paper in our lives is time consuming and can add a lot of unneeded stress. I hope this advice will help you as much as it has helped me. Give it a try the very next time you get papers and get rid of your piles of paperwork today.