I had a system in place for handling all the paper that came into our house but since my girls have started school and other extracurricular activities – we quickly outgrew that system. In the past, I have had an inbox (drawer) close to the garage door. This is where any paper that entered the house was dumped so it could be sorted and processed at a later time. This had worked out well because it was right where we came in and tended to drop everything anyway. I had a set time each week that I went through my inbox and paid the bills, filed papers away, etc. However, as you can see…my inbox (drawer) was overflowing before that set time arrived each week. I had to start a stack on top of the desk…
I also had an inbox upstairs by my desk. While generally I don’t recommend having two separate places for basically the same thing, I was finding myself making stacks in every room upstairs that needed to be carried down and put in the downstairs drawer. Not to mention, that when I do process all my papers I do so upstairs at my desk…I just pull out the drawer and carry it upstairs during my set time. So, the upstairs inbox was where every piece of paper that made it upstairs would go – so it can be sorted and processed at a later time. Items like receipts from shopping bags, magazine tear sheets, etc. ended up here.
As you can see, this inbox was overflowing too…urrgghh! If you are wondering what in the world that is on the top of the pile, that is a bright orange dinosaur one of my 3 year old’s made at preschool 🙂
After dedicating a few hours to sort through my two in-boxes, I found three culprits to be the main source of my paper overwhelm.
1. My kid’s arts & crafts – I noticed that craft projects, coloring sheets and finger paintings (and bright orange dinosaurs) were a major part of my overflowing inbox issue. As a solution, I have decided to create memory totes for each of my girls which will include a separate inbox dedicated solely to their creations. The good thing about this system is that the girls are in charge of placing all their masterpieces into this inbox – no more art projects tangled up with the water bill! More to come on that later, that will be my next project post – creating memory totes for kid’s art & craft projects.
2. Coupons – I LOVE coupons. I have signed up on all of my favorite products’ websites and I am always getting samples and coupons in the mail, coupons from loyalty programs, coupons from the Sunday paper, etc. So, I decided coupons were important (and plentiful) enough to justify their own inbox – drawer. So, I have now dedicated the drawer below the main inbox – drawer to my coupons. This has also helped me not misplace/forget a valuable coupon when needed. I have a set time on Mondays that I go through all my coupons – I do this as I am making my menu for the following week.
3. Junk Mail – In the past, I have not sorted through my mail before putting it in the drawer. I know this is a no-no but it was working for me…not to mention walking in the door in my house is no easy task. The dog is excited and wants fed, my three year olds’ (who I am desperately trying to potty train) both have to go the bathroom at the same time, my hands are full, coats and shoes are flying everywhere, the girls want a drink…and a snack…you get the picture so it was easier to just dump it all in the drawer and deal with it later. However, I can see now that a few minutes spent sorting the incoming papers will save me hours later. So, from now on the junk mail will go right into the recycle bin which is also right beside of the garage door. Also, because we have moved recently – I updated my information with the following services to reduce the amount of junk mail being delivered….
Now my routine is to immediately sort through mail/papers coming into the house. Coupons go straight to the coupon drawer, junk mail goes directly in the recycle bin, the girls put their creations in their tray (which they love by the way…they think this is a very big girlish task!). I continue to process the paper in both the downstairs and upstairs (which is now a very manageable amount) inbox once a week on Wednesday…..ahhhh paperwork overwhelm has been tackled!
I would love to hear your tips for tackling your paper overwhelm……
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Jodi Clardy, Certified Family Manager Coach & Professional Organizer
Creator of “Clarify, Simplify…..Achieve!tm” the Simplified Life System
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