I've got spring cleaning on my mind with the 60-degree weather we've been having, so I have a few posts lined up on the topic. The first is this - how to battle that seemingly ever-present paper clutter! The mail each day. The coupons and giftcards and invitations and this that and the other thing. Where to start?! We have a pretty good system down in our house, and rarely have piles of paper anywhere anymore. Here are the best tips for keeping the paper clutter to a minimum. Granted - I don't have school-age kids, and I know that is a whole other ball game, one that I cannot speak to. I'm sure Pinterest has great ideas!
FOOLPROOF TIPS FOR CORRALLING THE PAPER CLUTTER
1. Filing system // I talked about this in detail in last week's post, but having a system for filing important papers and documents is crucial. It doesn't have to be fancy, but having a designated spot to put bills, retirement account statements, medical records, etc. keeps those things easily findable and most importantly, off the horizontal surfaces in your house! I don't necessarily file papers right away, but I have a tray that sits on top of the file box so I can collect things that need to be filed throughout the month in one single spot, rather than having them float all over the house.
2. System for daily mail // Our daily mail routine is simple: I check the mailbox, and decide right then and there if it's to be opened or recycled. Example: mortgage statement: open. Pottery Barn Kids catalog that will fill me with envy and greed (how did they even get my address?!): recycle. The recycle pile gets taken immediately to the paper recycling bin as soon as I get inside. The open pile, surprisingly, gets opened! And then we deal with all that stuff accordingly. Taking five minutes each day to actually open and sort your mail and not letting it pile up on the counter, the island, the coffee table is such an easy way to keep paper clutter at bay!
3. Place for coupons // If you use coupons, even infrequently, having a specific spot for them is so helpful. We rarely use coupons, but I keep the ones I save in two places - grocery coupons get stored in our Dave Ramsey envelope wallet which lives in my purse, and all other coupons (like ones for Shutterfly or random stores) get clipped to a magnetic clip on the side of the fridge. This way, I'm not always hunting down the coupon when I want to finally order the 20% photobook from Shutterfly or whatever I might be buying.
4. Place for gift cards // All of our gift cards are stored in a fabric pouch in my wallet. Occasionally, Matt has a random fast food gift card in his car or wallet, if it's somewhere only he frequents or somewhere close to his work. We keep the gift card balance written in Sharpie on the back of the card so we don't have to keep track of receipts, and all the gift cards are always in my purse if I find myself out and about!
5. System for manuals // I recently recycled most of our appliance/electronics manuals after someone clued me in to the fact that you can find them online, but prior to that, all our manuals lived in a designated bin in a cupboard. Now, I have them as PDFs in a file on my computer, which is even better. If you can't or don't want to store them electronically, just designate a drawer or a bin or some kind of container and toss new manuals in the minute you get your new gadget.
6. System for "to be dealt with" papers // We have a tray that sits on top of our printer that is a drop zone for all things that need to be taken care of. Whether it's a bill that needs to be paid, an account I need to call about, an invitation to a shower we can't attend but I want to order a gift for, etc. Everything goes in that tray and I know if it's in there, it needs my attention before it can be filed, recycled, shredded or trashed.
7. Somewhere to keep invitations // Our system for this is simple - the fridge! I know people are either in the "clutter free fridge front" camp or the "magnet all of the things" camp, and we are definitely in the latter. When we receive an invitation, I quickly check my calendar right away to figure out if we can attend the event. If we can, I try to rsvp immediately by email on my phone, and the invite gets taped to the fridge (I keep a roll of washi tape in a kitchen drawer for this purpose). If we can't attend, the invite goes into the "to be dealt with" tray, and I rsvp that we can't make it and order a gift (if applicable) before recycling the invitation.
8. Paper recycling bin // Last but not least, having an accessible bin to toss papers in is so helpful. I bought a cheap flexible bin at HomeGoods that is stashed in my office, and we throw all of our paper in it. Thankfully, our city recycling program is awesome and doesn't require us to sort material, so once a week or so I just dump the bin into our curbside recycling bin and we are good to go. But, many churches and such have paper recycling bins in their parking lots - you can go here to find a recycling center near you.
Any other tips, especially for alllllll the things that come home with kiddos? We're still a ways off from that, but I'm all ears to file away for future! xo!