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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

~ How to Organize Frequently Used Paper Work ~ Part 1: Family Calendar & Filing

Today I'm going to help you take a step towards home management, and organization. This step alone will save you a lot of time, mainly in the area of time spent searching for things you knew you'd need sometime and put it somewhere that you were sure you wouldn't forget. I think typically some people put a lot of these things on there fridge, but if you don't need to look at them daily then they just blend in to the background and you forget its there.

The first thing I would suggest is a big family calendar, one with enough space to write everyone's appointments, meetings, visits with friends, etc. I like Amy Knapp's Big Grid Family Organizer. Each month has a monthly projects list, a place to write Don't Forget items, a quote, holidays in most countries, mini previous and next months calendars and a place to write Projects for the month. Each day has 7 lines to write on and a box below to write what's for dinner. Train your kids to go look at the calendar when they want to know what's for dinner and that should eliminate the same question being asked by multiple members of the the family. That right there will eliminate time wasted and stress. A word of caution though, don't rely on this if you can't stick to it, your family will quickly learn that what the calendar says isn't reliable and begin asking you again. When you purchase your calendar I also recommend buying a pack of pens that comes in a variety of colors that you will leave with your calendar all the time. I like Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine. Then have each member of the family pick a color. They then can write their appointments on the calendar in their color, after first clearing it with mom or dad, whoever is in charge of scheduling and planning. Don't forget to choose a color for the family as a whole, this color will then represent an event that everyone is expected to attend. Then as you go through your piles of paper, write down appointments you have scrawled on post it notes and scrap paper. Write down any events you have been invited to and then on the date you need to rsvp by put a note to do so. Hopefully this will eliminate the small, most likely to make a bigger mess pieces of your pile. Make sure you throw away, shred, or recycle the papers you've just added to your calendar. This is important, if you casually add them back to your pile or just leave them sitting there, your not getting anywhere.

After you've finished with the calendar check out my post on My New Filing System. Even if you prefer to have a more elaborate filing system, using this simplified version for now will help you to clear the paperwork clutter and ease your mind, because you will be able to find your bills and know where your tax information is and that anything else you might need is in the third folder. Now before I go on let me just say this: I can not get a system to work for me in which you "handle a piece of paper only once" as I've read over and over from organizing books and websites. It just doesn't work for me. If it works for you that's great and by all means stick with what works but if it doesn't, hopefully this will help. After you've set up your 3 folder filing system I want you to go through your piles of paper one at a time and pull out anything that should be in those folders and put them in there.

My hope is that by doing that your paper piles are significantly reduced. I'm hoping that all that is then left in your piles is: things to do, important reference paper that you just don't know what to do with and warranties and instruction booklets. In the next post of this series, I will continue to talk about what to do with the important reference papers.

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