As the end of the school year draws near and the papers entering the home hit an annual high, it is important to have a plan. Here are some time tested tips that I have picked up over the years on how to get a handle on your paper monster.
Tips for managing children’s papers:
• Trash it – Throw away everything except papers that best demonstrate the child’s talent (put in the bottom of the recycled trash bin, unseen by small people) With oversized artwork, take a photograph it (you can even photograph your child holding it), then throw it away unless it is special enough to frame.
• Find a Home – Assign a drawer for each child in a central location to be the “keeper paper” drawer. I picked up a small chest of drawers in a garage sale, painted it, and assigned a drawer for each child.
• Memory Files – As a drawer gets full, go through it, pick out a few more papers and file the true keepers in plastic bins with labeled hanging files.
Tips for managing Mom’s papers:
• Not Sure? File it – What other topics do you need in your filing system? Don’t limit yourself to just bills and papers such as bank statements, insurance papers, and warranty information. Ask yourself this question: What is it that makes stacks on my counter or desk? Categorize it, then start a file. If you can’t bring yourself to make a file for it, then throw it away. If you can’t bring yourself to throw it away, then go ahead and make a file for it.
• Coupons – I used to save the grocery ads each week and put them on the counter so they would be handy for checking out the sales. One day I realized that if I continued at this rate, I would have grocery ads on the end of my counter permanently. I now have a file labeled “Current grocery ads.” Each week when the new ads come, I take out what is in the file and put in the new week’s ads. When it’s time to go shopping, I can access them immediately.
• Specialty Filing System – Make your files work for you and your interests. Organize files in a way that will encourage you to use them, and have files for your interests. Some files that fit my special interests are:
- My calligraphy and artwork originals: I can make copies from them.
- Kids’ stickers: Keep them for projects when the kids need an activity.
- Pending: For paperwork that is in process, such as fund-raising packets, memory verse papers, birthday party invitations that need to be saved for addresses and directions.
- Home ideas: Clip ideas, then toss the magazine. But do so sparingly…remember, the internet is a great file-free idea resource.
- Health file for each member of our family: Jotting down dates of sicknesses and other health-related information could prove to be helpful in the future.
- Cards to save: In this file, keep the cards with the rare handwritten message.
- Drawing lesson plans and ideas: I reference this file as I prepare to teach summer drawing classes each year.
- Speech outlines: I save these for future speaking engagements. I also save anecdotes and stories related to my frequent topics.
- Kids’ extracurricular activity information: Brochures on tennis camps, gymnastics classes, community center classes, and such go in this one.
Make all of the paper files work for you and your personality. Would you do better to have papers filed in notebooks, in a closed drawer, or in an open crate? Although the open crate idea may not win an award for best appearance, it will look neater than piles of papers on countertops and allow you to access whatever you need within minutes.
Take heart as those papers come in your door – you have a plan. Roll up your sleeves and say, “Bring it on!”
Originally published at coachmombook.blogspot.com on March 30, 2009