Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How to Organize Your Daily Papers

Paper piles up on a daily basis in any home - mail, school papers, bills, flyers, and more. I've long employed the 2-minute rule (a la David Allen): if you can deal with it in less than 2 minutes, do it now. But what do you do with the papers you need to do something with eventually - not today, but maybe tomorrow, next week, or next month?

A tickler file is generally the answer, but I've found that a traditional ticker file is a little too much work for my lazy self to maintain. So I created my own version of the tickler file. It's been working great for me for the last year, so I thought it was time to share it.

How to Organize Your Daily Papers - MightyCrafty.me

This cute little file box sits on my printer cart, next to my desk in my home office. My dear friend Brooks picked it up at Target awhile back, and I inherited it in our family's move last year (thanks Brooks!).

This file box holds hanging files for various categories that I've set up for our family. I use Post-It Note tabs to label each folder.

So what makes this system different from the traditional tickler file? Instead of the dates and months you'd use in a regular tickler file, I've simplified mine way down. I use only three time categories:
  • Tomorrow
  • Next Week
  • Next Month
How to Organize Your Daily Papers - MightyCrafty.me

Each of these folders has all the papers in it that I need to deal with Tomorrow, Next Week, or Next Month. The beauty of this system is that I don't have to do a ton of rotation or maintenance - I just keep up with the three folders. That's it. Each night as I get ready for the next day, I set out the Tomorrow folder on my desk. Then, the first thing I do in the morning is to go through the papers there and pull out the ones I will deal with that day.

The concept works the same for Next Week and Next Month. On Sunday night, I pull out the Next Week folder in addition to the Tomorrow folder. And on the last day of the month, I pull out the Next Month folder to go through.

The secret is to make sure that when you go through the Next Week folder, you pull out the items that you will have to deal with during the week, regardless of whether it's truly to deal with tomorrow or not. Same with Next Month - you'll have to pull out items that you'll need to deal with at some point during the current month and then decide if you want to put them in Tomorrow's folder (because you'll have to deal with them this week) or in Next Week's folder (because you'll have to deal with them at some point over the next few weeks). So Tomorrow's folder will actually hold a little more than just things to deal with tomorrow. But that little bit of organizing each morning is fine by me. Much better than having an enormous chaos pile of papers on my desk to constantly go through.

So what about the other folders in the file box?

How to Organize Your Daily Papers - MightyCrafty.me

I have one file that I access each month called To File. I have an item on my to-do list for the 15th of each month telling me to empty this folder out and file those papers. These are things like monthly statements, manuals - anything I keep long-term in our household files.

The rest of the files I set up as I need them in order to hold papers I might want to reference but I don't need to do anything with after I've done whatever action was needed (like putting all the boys' sports games on our Google calendar). These are papers that might easily go into a household notebook - but I find myself too lazy to actually to maintain a binder of these papers, since I rarely ever go back to look at them (as most of our stuff is on either our Google calendar or my Astrid to-do list). So instead, I just create a folder for those reference papers and can get to them easily if I need them.

Right now, here are the files I have as reference folders:
  1. Taxes - I drop all of our tax receipts and papers throughout the year into this folder to stay ready until tax time.
  2. Health - Holds all of our receipts and statements for health insurance and medical records
  3. School - Holds stuff for the boys' school - directories, policies and procedures, etc.
  4. Baseball - Game schedule, roster, etc. - this folder changes based on which sport the boys are playing at the time.
  5. Soccer - Same as Baseball
  6. Byron School - Hubby's school information
The remaining folders just hold various things I want to keep handy but help me to reduce clutter on my desk - folders for craft printouts I make for the boys, documents for online classes I'm taking, and specialty paper for printing.

I also keep a folder for Menu Plans and Coupons. Right now, I'm not utilizing these so much, but I normally use Menu Plans as a folder to drop in recipe ideas I clip out of magazines or get from friends. I find so much of that online now that the folder doesn't get much use lately. I need to go through and clean that one out. Coupons is kind of the same way. I go through phases where I'm an avid coupon-clipper and then I fall completely off the wagon and the coupons get horribly outdated. Right now, since we're moving to a whole new state soon, I'm in an off-the-wagon stage for coupons. I might get back into it once we're moved.

How to Organize Your Daily Papers - MightyCrafty.me

So that's my customized tickler file system to help you organize your household papers. I hope it's useful for someone. What kind of systems do you have in place to organize all those daily papers? Please share...thanks!

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  1. I am such an organizational-junkie! And I'm your newest follower!


  2. This is such a great idea. I love anything that has to do with organization. Thanks for linkying up with "I Gotta Try That"

  3. Anonymous2:57 PM

    This is very cool! Thank you


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