Now that you are back into the routine of school, my guess is you are back to having stacks of paper piling up on your kitchen counter. Though I think schools are getting a lot better at using email and electronic options in lieu of paper, there is still quite a bit to deal with every day. And it just doesn’t come home in the kids backpacks. You get it in the mail too. So here are five strategies you can use to help you manage the paper that comes home.
- Don’t let it pile up. Make sure you go through mail and backpack papers every day. If you need help remembering to do this, add a repeating task to your task organizer or incorporate it into your daily routines. The entire process of sorting through paper each day should only take you about 10 minutes.
- Decide what to do with it. Once reason paper may be piling up is because you don’t know what to do with it, so it just piles up. So to avoid this, make sure when you are sorting through the papers you DECIDE what to do with it. Each paper has one of three possible decisions – File, Process, Delete.
File – Papers you will need to save for future use or reference. Things like vaccination records, tax returns, school calendars, etc.
Process – Papers which require some type of action on your part. Things like permission slips, bills, invitations. These papers can be stored either in your inbox or a file labeled To Do until you have a chance to actually process them.
Delete – Papers which you can simply discard. Things like junk mail, catalogs you don’t need, school newsletters you have already read.
- Set up a place to keep it. Once the paper makes it into your home you should have a designated spot in your home for it to be placed and stored. For this I suggest an inbox either in your kitchen or office and paper file folders for things you need to file. Once you get your inbox set up, teach your kids to use it by asking them to place all their school papers in it every day. Incorporate this job into their daily family commitments or chores, so that they don’t forget.
- Go paperless as much as possible. You can do this for things like bank statements, bills, and insurance statements. This will cut back a lot on the amount of paper that makes it into your home. If you are worried you will forget to pay a bill if you don’t have a paper statement, arrange for it to be directly charged to your bank account each month or add a repeating task to your task organizer. Once the bill comes due, you can go online and pay it from there or if you prefer, print off the payment stub and mail it in.
- Have a process to purge old paper. Once a year make it a habit to clean out old papers from your files. You can remember to do this by incorporating it into your planning calendar or New Year Checklist.