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What do you do with all your paperwork? I'm drowning in it!

(47 Posts)
Jemster Sat 12-Jan-13 19:36:48

I'm on a declutter mission at the moment and have done quite well this week.
I'm now trying to sort out mountains of paperwork and just not sure how to deal with it. We have a table by the front door that gets covered in school letters and post. Then we have a kitchen table and a sideboard that are covered in all sorts of paperwork. I do have a filing cupboard for all important docs, bills, medical stuff etc. so that's all ok but it's the odd things I just don't know what to do with.
For example tonight I found receipts, school letters, thank you cards, opticians reminder, stuff that needs actioning, stuff that needs reading and so on.
We have a small house with two children and lots of toys so any ideas what I should do with all this to keep it tidy?
It's overwhelming me now, I feel so disorganised!
Many thanks for any suggestions

LaCiccolina Sat 12-Jan-13 19:41:37

Gosh sounds like our house. Basically sits on table til done or so old will be shredded. So much needs filing. Never do it. Must have 2-3 bags of misc paper work knocking about in cupboard embarrassing

PigletJohn Sat 12-Jan-13 19:43:50

at the very least, you need
- a box for stuff that's been dealt with, to file or bin
- a box for stuff that has to be read or dealt with
- a box for stuff that's in process

SausageSmuggler Sat 12-Jan-13 19:46:02

God sounds like our house. The important stuff gets filed eventually but then the 'to be sorted out' pile just gets moved around to different places! Could you get a 'misc' box to shove everything in that needs to be kept rather than shredded?

TheJanuaryProject Sat 12-Jan-13 19:50:44

I'm a bit the same. PigletJohn - where do you keep your boxes of things to read/being processed? My problem is stuff lies around for ages, then it gets stuffed away somewhere so I never get round to dealing with it. I'm a bit out of sight out of mind when it comes to these things.

WhateverTrevor Sat 12-Jan-13 19:54:50

You only need the current school newsletter. I immediately put everything into my diary on my phone/iPad and then get rid of letter/newsletter.
If something important or needs saving, I photograph it on my phone and then throw away.

munchkinmaster Sat 12-Jan-13 19:55:11

Go paperless on statements
Be ruthless with cards etc
Reminders straight into diary
Don't keep catalogues, leaflets, vouchers you won't actually use
every night sort and deal with. File weekly
I have a to do folder with bills I need DH to pay etc
If I can fix it that night I do

Once I get a heap it's too late as I give up.

BackforGood Sat 12-Jan-13 20:02:40

Put EVERYTHING straight on the calendar as you read it.
Get rid of envelopes and envelope stuffers straight away.
If you receive something you need to keep in it's envelope, write on the outside of the envelope what's in it "Car Insurance 2013" or "Pension Statement 2012" etc.
Get a folder for each place tons of letters come from... eg 'school' /swimming club / guides.... or 'dc1', 'dc2', 'dc3' 'us' so when you need something, you know where it will be.

PigletJohn Sat 12-Jan-13 20:06:40

I actually use shelves in a narrow wall cabinet. I used to use filing trays, which are reasonably tidy but not out of mind sight.

I have a filing cabinet as well with a folder for gas, one for electricity, one for council tax, one for car insurance... etc

things can only be filed when they have been dealt with

a friend takes one old page out of the folder and shreds it each time he puts a new page in.

another way is to start a new folder each year and throw away the old folder, or put it in the loft for your kids to throw away after you die.

ClareMarriott Sat 12-Jan-13 21:33:20

Right now , what you could do is remove everything to just one place/ table then just go through everything very quickly and sort them into piles. By doing that you will have instantly decluttered other places the post etc ends up and may have a pile that you can instantly get rid of/ shred. In the light of day and if you have the time, then sit down and go through everything else, it should then only take you about 3/4 hours

BoffinMum Sat 12-Jan-13 22:07:25

Household Captain's Log

Gets a lot of hits on my Austerity Housekeeping blog.

[ Making and Entrance]] Read the bit about clipping things to the A4 diary in this post.

BoffinMum Sat 12-Jan-13 22:07:52

[ Making an Entrance]]

BoffinMum Sat 12-Jan-13 22:08:53

Ah bollocks. Trying to read the subtitles on Borgen AND type.

Making an Entrance

BonzoDooDah Sat 12-Jan-13 22:14:25

OOoh I need help here too <marks place>

Jemster Sat 12-Jan-13 22:35:13

Thanks for the suggestions. I see the sense in having separate boxes but I don't really have much room to put them. I was thinking of putting an in tray on the hall table but then the paper will just pile up in there and any visitors will be able to read it which isn't ideal.
I do read and bin the school newsletter but we seem to get bits of paper home every other day about something or other. There is a parent email system so I don't know why we still get so much paper but there is lots!
Boffin will have a look at your link now, thanks.

BadPoet Sat 12-Jan-13 22:36:05

Like you I have a filing cabinet for the important stuff but the paperwork you describe that needs to be more accessible (school newsletter, school dinner menus, appointment reminders, invoices from the electrician, homework project worksheets that are meant to be completed over a week or two) go in one of two places.

I have a large magnetic pinboard near the family desktop computer and the school project sheets and my own study deadlines list go there. In the dining room I have a desk with chequebooks, envelopes, paper etc and above it a row of three a4 clipboards, a bit like this on Pinterest but as I say I only have 3 . I covered plain brown boards in nice wrapping paper and just clip up whatever I need to hand.

I am the least crafty person in the world! But this has proved a really good solution.

tribpot Sat 12-Jan-13 22:49:57

I attempt to go as paperless as possible (which is obviously not very when you have to deal with school and the NHS on a regular basis).

I'm still working my system out but here are the basic principles:

1. Some paper needs to be retained but its content does not to be instantly retrievable (for example, insurance policy).
2. Some paper may be retained for a period of time (but likewise its exact content isn't important) - for example, I keep credit card statements for 3 months because this is the period of time they are useful as proof of ID.
3. Some paper has content which needs to be retrievable but the paper doesn't need to be retained (for example hospital appointment letter).
4. Some paper needs to be retreivable and retained (for example, statements connected with DH's tax return since I have to do the bloody thing for him).
5. Some paper needs permanent storage - this goes in a fire safe (e.g. passports).

The idea is:
- open the post / book bag in the kitchen right next to the bin. Everything of no value gets chucked immediately.
- anything that needs to be retrievable gets stored in Evernote. DH likes to scan these in beautifully, I just take a picture on my iPhone instead, since the scanner is clearly not in the kitchen!
- anything which needs to be retained goes into one of two folders, rolling file for 3 month stuff or 2013 file.

Instant action items is what I'm still working on. School newsletters get dealt with on a Friday night and then binned. The newsletter is also accessible electronically so even more reason just to bin the bloody thing.

Things requiring action after the fact get Evernoted. Haven't really decided what to do with the paperwork in the interim.

I have informed DH will be doing a flow chart on this system in due course! He was, of course, delighted ...

ExitPursuedByABear Sat 12-Jan-13 22:52:58

We too drown in paper. The thing I find most useful is a calendar with a pocket per month, so that things for future months such as appt etc can be placed in the appropriate month's pocket.

tribpot Sat 12-Jan-13 22:55:38

Btw I will say for anyone getting a lot of paperwork from somewhere like the NHS (so the content is relatively complex, there can be instructions about changes to doses, future plans and all sorts) Evernote is a godsend for keeping it all together and searchable, and accessible from different locations as well. This is particularly useful if the household manager (i.e. me) is out of the house a lot of the time.

All budget stuff is electronic, we use YNAB to manage our finances so don't retain bank statements for the few places that still send paper ones (exception being anything related to DH's tax return again).

Calendar is electronic, we have a shared one in Google.

Still need a drawer for envelopes, pens, cheque book and assorted stuff for school.

Monty27 Sat 12-Jan-13 22:57:20

Rip up or shred every single thing that comes through the door that isn't needed for a start.

Agree with piglet. 'Dead' 'Needed' 'Alive'

I hate paperwork so much but it won't beat me.... Oh no it won't.

<replaces armour>

wasabipeanut Sat 12-Jan-13 23:02:02

Best tip I found on MN - if you can't action or bin it then take a pic of it with your camera phone and bin original.

I do this with the "what we're doing this term" letters so I can refer back to them .

Monty27 Sat 12-Jan-13 23:02:14

Plastic wallets, for stuff like hospital appointments etc,....

O I'm getting myself in a tizz thinking about it.

It won't beat me.... Oh no it won't.

Lever Arches I have for instructions to gadgets, tv's etc together with the receipts and warranties etc. Another one for bills, (all paid direct debit anyway), and another one for banking and insurance shit

It won't beat me.. Oh no it won't.

Bin crap as it comes in the door. Did I say that already?

Can you read Newsletters etc on line?

<wipes sweat>

wasabipeanut Sat 12-Jan-13 23:03:32

Sorry just realised Tribpot has already suggested this!

kickassangel Sat 12-Jan-13 23:04:10

I find it's the stuff you know you'll need in a couple of weeks so don't want to put in the 'proper' filing cabinet, but don't want left out either. We're about to re-organize the study, the playroom and every bit of paper in this house as we never get round to filing so we have piles in the study and now I don't even know where half of it is meant to be going.

Dh is blissfully ignorant and happily playing on his iPad right now. Ha ha , I have plans for your Saturday evening, mister.

Maryz Sat 12-Jan-13 23:06:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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