Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Monster of Paper Clutter

With school, work and club activities, families are inundated with an endless stream of paper. If there’s not a designated place to put things before they come in to your home, those items will begin piling up until you fall victim to the “Monster of Paper Clutter!” Don’t let that monster intimidate you. Attack back with a command center!

A command center is simply holding stations for incoming information. These stations should be located at the hub of activity in your home. For most, the kitchen is the hub where a host of activities happen and may be that perfect place.

The command center can look anyway you’d like it to. It can consist of drawers, stacking trays, mail sorters, baskets, or whatever resources you have available in the hub area. The end result should be a specific place for each category of item that comes in.

To start, first determine what categories of papers are forming a pile. Sit at your table with one of the piles in front of you. Begin sorting out the papers in to categories; school papers, bills, magazines, coupons, etc. Utilize the rule of keeping like with like.

When you have completed this exercise, you should become aware of which items have become the source of your piles. Here are some solutions for four common items:

School Work/Art Work-completed: Use a designated drawer in the kitchen to place all completed work. If a drawer is unavailable, use a decorative basket on the counter or a large tub or shoebox in a cupboard. Include your child by telling them this is your drawer/basket/box to place your completed work. This will inspire them to help place their papers there. Once the drawer or basket is getting full, you can revisit the work inside and decide which items are keepers and which are not. If space allows, have a drawer for each child.

School Work- In process: Stacking trays on the counter are great because the contents are easily seen and accessible by the child. This tray holds your homework packet for the week, fundraisers in progress, the reading book of the week, etc. Once the work is completed it’ll go in to the drawer.

Magazines or items to read: Have a magazine box on the counter to sort them right in to. If the box is too full because you haven’t had the time to read them before the next issue arrives, I suggest stopping the subscription and just buying the occasional copy at the newsstand. You might end up saving money in the long run.

Incoming Mail: Utilize two stacking trays for each adult in the family. One acts like their own personal in-box and the second will be for work in progress, bills to pay, etc. Once the item is no longer in progress and you still need to keep it, remove it and file it away.

When determining where to put things, convenience is a key factor. Have the storage location as close as possible to the where the activity takes place. This will increase your chances of putting it there.

Be proactive as soon as you see a pile forming again. Once you’ve taken the time to tame the “monster of clutter,” try not to feed it or it may come back to bite you!