As promised here’s a look into the Paper Process in our household.
Two things to note – the boxes, trays and other storage items were almost all re-purposed items. Organizing doesn’t have to be expensive. And second, it may not look super “put together”, but the system works while allowing individual personalities of our household (those that need to see things out like ads, coupons, etc and also for those in our household who like throwing things into a pile until they need them – versus filing it all into separate piles when it comes in). To keep the peace in the household, your organizing system needs to take everyone in consideration otherwise the system won’t be maintained.
So without further ado… here it is:
- Mail, ads and bills come into the house (usually by my husband in the late afternoon).
- My sister’s mail gets sorted out and dropped off on her desk (where she’ll handle them when she gets home after work).
- Ads that we know we’ll use (which is about half of what we get) go into the general “inbox” – the brown wooden tray – which we found lying around the grandparents house collecting dust, perfect re-purposing. This tray gets weeded through weekly (recycling the old ads and papers).
- Coupon books (we get our fair share), catalogs and the monthly magazines we read go into the black plastic magazine holder (also a re-purposed item). We can all peruse them at leisure, they don’t overflow the “inbox” and they needed a different “home” than the weekly ads.
- Anything else – junk advertisements, coupons we likely won’t use and the envelopes and “fluff” from bills (since we pay almost all our bills online even though we prefer the paper statements) is sorted out and immediately thrown into the recycling bin (the big white trash can under the inbox and magazine file). We easily fill this recycling can every week. If by chance my husband is in a rush and can’t get to the sorting, the inbox is an “ok” place for all the mail to temporary sit (until I come around and open and sort all the mail).
- Bills, checks to be deposited and papers that need to be filed go into the 4 tray setup on the bookcase.
My husband knows when all the bills are due and has a monthly routine of going through that whole tray and dealing with the receipts and bills at that time (one tray). You can usually work with different institutions to try to get your bills to fall around the same time or make it a habit to do your bills twice a month. The filing I do when I get around to it usually every 2 weeks or so (another tray). The two other trays holds extra notepad paper and folders and also some things we use from time to time and we’d like them to stay accessible.
- Next to the 4 tray setup are binders that hold our investment statements and an accordion file where bills, other statements and receipts go after they’ve been reconciled and paid. This makes finding recent receipts and bills easily and accessible for a time. I clean this out and file the appropriate papers into our large 2 drawer filing cabinet every couple of months (it doesn’t fill up fast).
- Our filing cabinet which holds all the rest of our files is hidden away in a corner, because we really don’t use it on a daily basis.
And that is the Paper Process for our family. We have a whole other process for papers that come from the girls (usually art and crafts projects and the occasional flyer for school)… but that is a post for another date I think.