I struggle with this on a daily basis as I know many of you do too. I have been able to gain a handle on it by using the file folder system. I have a desk area in my kitchen and that is where I have a pretty wicker basket that holds my main file folders. That's where I have the bills and school notes, etc. The desk drawer holds envelopes, stamps, address labels and my checkbook for easy access.
Underneath the desk I have another basket that contains file folders with documents that are not needed on a daily basis but that we need access to fairly regularly.
If you are looking into starting a file folder system, here are some pointers from Marcia Ramsland:
Five File Folders will clean up any mail piles from scattering across your kitchen counterop. A portable file holder is a key ingredient to set up a “Personal Organizing Center” along with a supply drawer. Every home needs one.
Each day an average of fifteen pieces of mail arrive in your mailbox. If you flip through and deal with only ten of the fifteen pieces, you are left with five dangling pieces a day to be dealt with “later.” That’s why stacks of mail can appear from out of nowhere. At the rate of five pieces of mail per day, that means 150 pieces a month or 1,565 pieces a year—sixteen inches of guilt piled on your desk or countertops.
Remember, loose papers represent undone actions. They drain emotional energy and take away your peace of mind.
Five File Folders to Handle Your Mail
2. To Do
3. To Decide
4. To Pay
5. Your Name
File Folder #1 - CALENDAR
Put an item in the CALENDAR file only after putting it on your monthly calendar. This cleans up “refrigerator clutter” and includes invitations, schedules, & upcoming events.
File Folder #2 - TO DO
Only if an item takes more than 5 minutes to do AND you’ve listed it on a Master List on the countertop can you put it in this file. Assign it to the 3 days you can most control: Today, Tomorrow, or the next day.
File Folder #3 - TO DECIDE
Place items that you are thinking about doing, ordering, or following up on in here. Then when you decide to do it, you know right where to find it! The last day of the month, toss the unused items for a fresh start next month.
File Folder #4 -TO PAY
If you don’t have one place by your checkbook to pay bills, keep them in a desginated file folder so they don’t get lost. Important!
File Folder #5 YOUR NAME
Keep anything of interest just for you in there.
Now add a File Folder with each person in your family. Explain that no longer will there be visible paper clutter on the counter, and it needs to be emptied daily or by Saturday noon on the weekend.