First off I want to thank everyone who commented and responded to my request for prayers last week, it was indeed a very hard week but we were in good hands, the loving ones of our friends and family as well as our Heavenly Father. What more could we ask?
Your kindness,dear readers, is deeply appreciated by Dave and I. Thank you.
So back to all those big plans I had a month or so ago. I wanted to break up my homekeeping routines and ideas into a few posts and I truly would love to hear all of your ideas and methods so join in and tell me what you are doing as well.
When you become and mom and leave the hospital with your sweet bundle of joy you have no earthly idea that that child is going to generate enormous amounts of paperwork from that day forward. I came home from the hospital with each child and a bag full of paper, information sheets, coupons, flyers, booklets and all kinds of nonsense, none of which I needed. It was only the beginning. School papers, artwork, flyers, information sheets, phone lists, dance schedules, soccer schedules, team rosters and on and on. This is in addition to all of the other paper that comes into the house. It's maddening. As the keeper of the home it is my job to deal with the assault of paper and to make sure it does not take over the house as it surely would in a very short time if I did not deal with it.
The first thing that I have done and I strongly urge everyone else to do is to get off as many mailing lists as possible. The easiest way to do this is to register here with the Direct Marketing Association and request to be removed from the following lists:
Magazine Offers (this includes subscription offers, newsletters, periodicals and other promotional mailings)
Other Mail Offers (this includes donation requests, bank offers, retail promotions and more)
You must renew this every three years and it may take a little while for everyone to catch up with your request but your junk mail will be significantly reduced after a time.
Until that happens, don't let it into the house. As soon as you take the mail out of the mailbox take it over to your recycle pile or your trash bin and toss what is junk. Do not keep catalogs or flyers, any of that information can be found online and it just adds to the clutter of your home to have a stack of catalogs that you might look at someday because they might have something you might like to buy. It's silly. If you have one of those stacks right now, take a deep breathe and go toss it. Go ahead, we'll wait.
Doesn't that feel better? One less stack of paper in the home.
As for coupons and such deal with it then. You might also peruse the coupons available online, since you can actually look for coupons you would use rather than a whole stack of paper with maybe two useful coupons in it. Is it worth .45 cents to have a pile of paper making you unhappy? Probably not. I am sure there are many people in your home that would happily give you .45 cents from their piggy bank to get you to throw out the mess that stacks of grocery flyers creates. If you are a committed couponer make sure you deal with the paper as soon as it arrives in the house, clip out what you need, have a place to put it and throw out the trash. Every. Single. Time.
Can you tell I don't use coupons much?
Now for your bills. I have no idea why the gas company feels the need to A. send me a bill at all since I pay the same amount online every month and B. to send me a little booklet, the same little booklet, with each bill with information on how to reduce my gas bill. How about not printing the flipping little booklet and save some money that way big, dopey gas company? How's that for reducing some costs?
It's a pet peeve of mine.
What we have done here is to go online and request paperless billing, that is I am mostly billed online for my utilities and other monthly bills. Not every company has this as an option and even those that do often take a while to follow through (that gas company? it took three tries before they stopped sending us a paper bill in addition to the online bill) but once you get everyone on board it's that much less paper to deal with.
Many banks are offering online statements as well. Take advantage of this. Now it is not even necessary to save too many things since banks and credit cards often make your statements for the last ten years available online. You can print these documents should you need to or do what I do and print them to OneNote or a similar program to be stored on a thumb drive should the need for them come up. Usually if you are applying for a mortgage or the IRS has you in their sights.
If you do have file cabinets full of paper from more than ten years ago I urge you to purge. No one is ever going to ask what you paid for curtains from JCPenney in 1993. I promise. Anyone who does is certifiable and you shouldn't speak to them anymore. If you wish to purge the paper I highly recommend using a shredder because the people who do want that JCPenney bill want it to steal your identity Invest in a paper shredder this is the one we use, I picked it because it was cheap, and sit the older kids in front of a movie and have them shred for you. This is a popular activity here.I have no idea why but they love it. You can use the shreds to fill in packages you are mailing or as a cushion when you box up your Christmas ornaments. Stuff like that. Or throw it in the compost. Whatever, get it out of the house and off your counters/desk/island. Now you have free space in your cabinets or storage boxes. Donate them. Get them out. Less stuff = less stress.
Now you need to deal with the paper you have left. You'll still have plenty. For the day-to-day paperwork of running this household I use Dawn's File Crate System. I have recommended it before and it really works. The key for me is to have my hands on it everyday. If you click on the link you will find a series of Dawn's posts on her organization system. Scroll back to the beginning and read from there, it's a wonderful read if you are freaky about home organization like I am. For my part this is it how it works for me.
I use fifty-two manila folders and write the dates of the week on the tab. For example this week's folder says August 15th – August 21
then I have 12 hanging file folders which are the twelve months of the year, the appropriate weeks are filed in the appropriate months and then I have an Advent file, a Lent file and one for each of the children.
So what do I put in there? Well this week's file has the Magnifikids issue for this coming Sunday. Sometime Thursday or Friday I will pull it out and read it over with the younger ones so that they know what is coming at Mass Sunday.
Also there is:
An invitation to an engagement party on Saturday
An email from the soccer coach about practice Saturday
The copy of the dance registration form which is due next week
A copy of the church bulletin with a list of Masses for Ryan in it
A recipe for sweet and sour meatballs someone gave me which needs to be put in my recipe binder
A printed email from a friend about a Book of Centuries, I haven't had time to read it yet
This week I have filed in upcoming weeks:
Some Saint Rose of Lima activities for next week.
The printout of the registration for homeschool science class (filed in the week class begins)
The printout announcing when Erin's orchestra begins rehearsal (filed in that week)
You get the idea. This is an effective way, when combined with my planner to manage the paper and the schedule. The key is to leave it out where I see it everyday and it's easy to access. For me that's the kitchen.
On Friday or Saturday I get out the coming week's folder, see what is going on and I use a piece of legal paper stapled to the folder (as does Dawn) and make my menu list, grocery list, errand list and some notes about things to do.
The spaghetti sauce and scribbles are courtesy of Brendan. See, I told you it's out and about. This list gives planning the next week focus. As school begins I plan to add any extra items and crafts to the list as well as any school related printouts to the folder. This will not be a place for school papers to live though. That I will address in a homeschooling post. Once I figure it all out. 🙂
Now for the non day-today paper, bills and household stuff, I am lucky enough to have a desk which has nice big file drawers. Two of these are devoted to house stuff.
This drawer holds folders labeled by bill, credit card, car, and some professional stuff. Every time a bill comes to the house it gets opened, those insane inserts are tossed and the bill gets filed. After it is paid. It is paid right away. If for some reason it is not paid right away It lives on my desk in one of those letter holder things.
I think I bought it at Marshalls for $3. The real success of this is that everything has a place to live until it gets filed. Next January I will clean out those folders and put it all in an accordion folder labeled 2010. I will shred 2008 and then store 2010. I will only have two big accordion files at a time. That's enough. If I get audited I will fire my accountant (which could be touchy since I'm married to him) then I will print out what I need. I do keep tax returns for seven years and any documentation such as receipts and charitable contributions all together in one drawer.
The other drawer holds things like manuals and things for the Baseball league (Ryan belonged to the Challenger league, Dave is still on the Board of Directors and still coaches Ryan's team) and some charity work we've done. Also some committee information for a something we Co-Chaired at our parish (never miss a meeting you get elected to chair committees in your absence). Basically stuff that doesn't really live anywhere else.
So that's how I deal with paper. My best advice is to throw out as much as possible. Best to recycle if you can but just get rid of as much as possible. Then Every.Single. Day. Deal with what comes in, it's totally worth ten minutes a day to now have piles of junk and no idea where and when things are happening. Believe me I know, this is how I used to live. It's way better now.
Please leave comments, I very much want to hear your ideas and suggestions!
Have a blessed day.