Thursday, October 25, 2012

{Day 25: Paper Organization}

The number one way to stay organized with paper is to control what comes into our homes. 

However, Phil and I have roughly 15 magazine subscriptions between the two of us (we like magazines, what can I say??), plus all of my catalogs, a daily newspaper, and grade school papers for two little people. It can feel like an avalanche of paper!!

How to stay organized? A few guidelines can help.

1. A place for everything: kids' papers
Good systems require pre-planning. So to keep organized with the papers coming in, we have to think a little bit about where & how they come in and where & how we'll use them. 

For example, the kids' school papers come home in their backpacks. Backpacks go in a basket in the trunk of the car after school. When we get home, I carry it into the house and take it to the kitchen where I empty lunchboxes, check for homework, and take note of important papers. The basket goes under a table in our dining area. Homework is done at the dining room table after dinner. Then, everything gets packed back up and taken to the car the next morning.

Our car basket. Big enough for two backpacks and my purse.
My goal in life is to not hang on to every piece of paper the kids bring home. In practice, it is much harder for me to part with their creations, but there are a ton of them. My favorite drawings and impressive homework assignments get set aside. Eventually I'd like to have a special file box for each child. For now, though, it's just a jumbly pile in a Rubbermaid storage tote in the basement.

Our calendar and file storage area.
The paint swatch class schedules are on the bulletin board.

Other information like important dates get transferred to a centralized calendar. The kids' school schedule--knowing which day each has gym or library or art or music--is written on a colorful paint chip. So, on Tuesday morning when Bela asks, "What do I have today?" I can look up and be reminded that it's music day, her favorite!

2. Keep one, toss one: magazines & newspapers
With 15 or so magazines showing up in our mailbox each month, we need to cycle through them or we would soon be able to fill a small room with all of the periodicals. It's not a perfect one-to-one ratio, though. Some months we have more time for leisure reading; other times, less so. But once a magazine has been read (unless its cooking or design-related), I put it in the recycling pile. The same is true, on a daily basis, for the newspapers

Special note about magazines: roll one up and stick it in your dressy boots so they won't fall over.

Waiting is much more tolerable when I have a magazine to read. One of the things I want to design is a place to store magazines near the back door so I can grab one on my way out. Since the space is teensy yet busy, it's going to have to be something that hangs, but I haven't found just the right thing yet. 

3. Seasonal purging: recycling 
We don't have curbside recycling in the village, which means that if I want to be "green" I have to drive somewhere to do it. Luckily, there is a facility on our way home from school so I don't need to go out of my way. I only make the stop once we have a bounty of stuff to be recycled. It feels so good to get rid of a season's worth of magazines, newspapers, and office papers. In the last session I got rid of old telephone directories (one for a neighborhood where I haven't lived in several years), and it felt like a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It was a really great feeling!

4. Errand box
Finally, it's very helpful to have a special place designated just for the stuff related to errands. A box or basket near the door can work perfectly for this task. This is where packages to be mailed can be left; library materials can be stored; and Goodwill donations can be assembled. Hopefully the errand box will be in a conspicuous-enough spot that you will remember to take care of the task, and the pile does not become clutter!

And, of course, all easier said than done. :) I still have some work to do at home to shovel out from our paper avalanche. Do you feel like you have too many papers or are you skiing ahead of the avalanche? Please share your tips in the comments section. 


  1. good blog! We don't have the news come in paper form anymore - we read the local paper on-line so we don't have so much paper to deal with. It is also cheaper than the paper version. great idea about the magazines - we still have too many of those!

  2. I am now getting most of my magazines online and read news from several online sources, my iPad is a blessing from my sister!


Thanks so much for commenting! I love to read what you have to say. ~Carrie


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