Thursday, August 25, 2011

Monday Motivation: Organizing Household Paperwork

If you're overwhelmed with paperwork, do Step 1 and Step 2 first. 

Now we're ready to tackle other household paperwork that tends to spread around the house.  Some of that paperwork could include:

Appliance manuals and receipts
Mementos and keepsakes
Phone numbers/addresses
School work
Personal and confidential paperwork
Tax records
Emergency information
Command center for daily paperwork

For each category of paperwork, I'll give you some tips for how to weed through the mess, and some options for how to organize the information and be able to retrieve what you need.

1.  Appliance manuals and receipts:
     First, go through each piece and toss out any information for items you no longer own.  Then, sort paperwork according to type. (kitchen appliances, camping gear, electronics, etc.)  I'm a fan of binders, so I keep my appliance info in a large 3 ring binder that has labeled pocket dividers.  For more information, check out my previous post about making a household manual binder.

2.  Mementos and Keepsakes:
     This category will be different for everyone.  Some people like to save every item pertaining to a specific memory and some will save nothing.  If you have more of a hoarding tendency, you'll have to make some firm rules for yourself.   Decide how much room you have for keepsakes and that will help you determine how much you can save.  Not much room?  Then, photos are better.  They give you a lot of bang for your buck - lots of memory on one or two card size pieces of paper.
     I've kept a few Rubbermaid bins for each of my children and stuffed them full of mementos of their first 21 years.  I have a few things I've kept for myself and I keep them in fabric storage boxes on the top shelf of my bedroom closet.  Every time I go through the box, reminiscing, I actually throw something away.  That goes to show you that the more time that passes, the more those memories are stored in your heart and you don't need so many reminders.

3.  Phone numbers and addresses:
     It's a good idea to have addresses and phone numbers recorded in several different places in your home.  You can use your cell phone, an address book, a day planner, a Rolodex, or a 3x5 card file.  Having two different places to record the information will make sure you always have one handy in case you loose one. 
     Be sure to keep updated contact information for your doctor, dentist, veterinarian, child's coaches, church contacts, neighbors, school contacts, and hair dresser (most important).  LOL

4.  School Work:
     If you have young children at home, this will be your number one angst during the school year.  If you don't have kiddos at home, skip to number 5. 
     If you have a pile of school related information in your staging area, sort through it to make sure it is all relevant to your child.  Before the school year starts again, throw out all outdated information.  There is no need to save last November's school lunch menu. 
     Prepare a binder or file box to handle the children's incoming paperwork.  Every day, after school, immediately go through each child's backpack, with them, and look at every paper.  Any paper that needs to be saved goes in the child's labeled file or section in the binder.  Any paperwork that needs to be returned to school is signed and put back in the child's backpack to go to school the next day.  Any homework is set out to be completed as scheduled. 

5.  Correspondence:
     We all get cards, invitations, and letters in the mail that we should respond to.  The temptation is to set them aside and answer them later.  Well, you know where I'm going with this, right?  We set them aside and then forget about them.  Oops. 
     As soon as you get a card, etc. write down, on your to-do list, that you need to answer it.  Is it an invitation?  Write the date in your calendar immediately and either call the person to RSVP or write down who you need to talk to before you can RSVP.  If you'll need a babysitter, write down that you need to find one. 
     If you get a letter that you want to respond to, grab a note card and either immediately write them a note or stick the card into your day planner and you'll be one step closer to answering the letter.  I've found that it really doesn't take as long as I imagine it does to write a little note to someone. 

6.  Personal and Confidential Paperwork
   Any paperwork that would be hard to replace or that you would not want someone to read should be kept in a secure location.  Papers that you might need to have handy like a birth certificate or passport can be kept in a fireproof safe that is bolted to a floor in your home.  Other papers that don't need to be in your home can be kept in a safety deposit box at your local bank.  

7.  Tax Records:
     Any receipts that you'll need to have for your taxes should be kept in one place to make tax time easier.  Designate one place, a file, envelope, or box that you can quickly drop the receipts into.  You'll be patting yourself on the back when tax time rolls around. 

8.  Emergency Information:
     Any paperwork that your loved ones would need to have access to in an emergency should be readily available and neatly compiled.  We have a large binder that we call the "I Love You Binder".  I named it that when my husband showed me all the preparations he had made to ensure I'm taken care of if anything should happen to him.   Copies of all of the paperwork are also stored with our financial planner.  Here is a post I've already written about the "I love you binder".

1 comment:

  1. Ok - paperwork is (semi) under control...or atleast better. Been wanting to work on this for a while and you and Hurricane Irene kicked me in gear. Can't wait to hear your idea's for getting recipes under control. Also want to go through magazine and tear out what I want to keep and set up a binder for "idea's". Kind of like a paper Pinterest if you will. Then GET RID OF THEM. They certainly take up space. Thanks for the motivation mam!


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