Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Five Fun Steps for Paper Organization

Image from Countryhome.com
Weekly contributor, Kim Brenneman

I truly appreciate that we are becoming a paperless society. Every time I get the option for auto-paying the bills I take it. I like to get my receipts via email rather than more paper in the mailbox. But, I still have paper piles. Mostly because we have a fun rule at our house: each child has a day of the week assigned to them for special privileges and one of those privileges is getting the mail. That “special” child gets to look at the mail first. This rule is supposed to eliminate fighting but we do have to clarify some days what day of the week it is and who rightfully gets the fresh magazine.

If I’m not close by the mail gets dumped in a pile on my desk. That’s not a good thing for my desk. But it is good that the child is not sorting the mail over the trash can.

If you have paper pile troubles here is how we take care of paper, especially if I’m around when the paper comes into the house.
  1. Assign a child to get the mail. This is a fun “grown-up” task to do. There is some hidden learning in this job. Sort the mail with the child and they learn to not fall for advertising. They want to know why you are throwing away the junk mail, why you aren’t entering a sweepstakes, what credit card junk mail is and why we don’t want credit cards. It is important of course that the child knows that only mom or dad get to throw away mail because sometimes important things appear to be junk mail.
  2. I already alluded to it and it is very important in eliminating paper clutter. Sort the mail over the trash can. Immediately throw away the junk mail. Get it out of the house. Try to only handle mail one time and by sorting the trash out immediately you aren’t wasting time by sorting through a pile later on. If you’ve ever had to sort through a pile of junk mixed with important things you will know how freeing it is to just throw away the junk immediately. Freeing is fun!
  3. Do you have a location for bills that need paid? Clean out a desk drawer, have a special file, basket, or box for them. The important thing is that you have a location for the bills. When the mail comes in the house put the bills in that place right away. If your daily schedule allows, you could assign a certain time period for the mail coming in, mail sorting, bill paying, and filing. If you pay the bills immediately when they come in the mail, you never get a late fee for forgotten things. Personally, I have a day of the week that I use for bill paying and other home office tasks. Do what works for you—the important thing is to just do it. A friend of mine told me that her father taught his children, and even his children’s friends, a handful of “life rules” said like a mantra at the supper table. One of the rules was “Pay all of your bills the first of every month”. Know where your bills are and pay them. Paid bills are liberating.
         Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
  4. Some papers need to be kept around for awhile thus you need to file. Do you have piles? Remember I mentioned above that my children will put the mail on my desk if I’m not around? Not fun for me. When I have a big pile to sort I make it more enjoyable by putting on some music, getting some chocolate and a cup of tea around and then dedicate some time to getting through the pile. It is no longer a dreaded chore but a pleasant and freeing interlude in my day. Everything is better with chocolate.
  5. Make your paper management pretty. Or cool. Or dreamy. Or whatever your style is. If it’s fun to look at you’ll take care of it. If it’s ugly, you’ll want to avoid it. The other day in the local big box store I saw some cute and clever office organization tools. This morning a friend had pinned on Pinterest a cute mail holder made out of a recycled house shutter. I looked around some more on Pinterest and I saw wire baskets, reed baskets, and fabric covered wood boxes that people use for office organization. Be fun and creative with your home office and how you deal with your paper filing tasks.
Be fun and creative with the necessary tasks of life. Paper is part of life, instead of looking at the piles as though they were the enemy, see them as an excuse to eat a bit of chocolate, drink some tea, and listen to some uplifting music.

Image from MarthaStewart.com

Kim Brenneman

Kim is the joyful wife of Matt and the blessed mother of nine children.

When not busy homeschooling and farmschooling, she enjoys writing, gardening, cooking, reading, sewing, and crafting.

Kim lives on a farm in Iowa where her family grows beef cattle, corn and beans, and operates a micro-dairy selling cheese at farmer’s markets. She loves to write and speak about her passion for home and family. She is the author of Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing the Large Family. She blogs about the same subject at:

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