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Monday, October 4, 2010

Is paper the boss ... or are you?

Last week, my friend Renee invited me to join her in an organization-fest!   She did some mighty work around her house, and is motivated to do more.  No matter what she says on her blog, she's very organized by nature.  It's just that a sweet little girl has entered her life, and she's having to adjust.

Both Renee and I hosted a giveaway for some organization products, with entries based on blog posts. I'm happy to announce that ReneF has won the ETC Magazine holder.  Rene  - I once had three boys on three Pop Warner teams.  You will survive!  I'll e-mail you privately to get your address. 

Last week, I asked you to post your paper problems.  We all have them, and I'm so thankful so many paused and shared your specific concerns.  In the next few weeks, I'll be addressing some solutions for each of them.  But before we can really start to address the piles, we have to have places to put them.

My guess is you've tried this before.  You've reved up your enthusiasm, tackled a pile, only to stack everything back up because you don't  know what to do with all that paper.  So before we start down that frustrating path again, let's start by getting some supplies ready.  Here's my list of must-haves for paper organization:
Recycling container.     I'm thankful my city provides a huge bin for recycling that sits on my side yard.  But that's too far to be helpful.  So I placed a clothes hamper just inside my garage for an in-between stop and drop.

Shredder.   Buy a bigger size and line with a plastic garbage can liner for easy disposal or recycling - based on your city/county policy for shredded paper. Can't afford a shredder? You only need to shred your name, address and account info on most docs.  Cut them out and shred them yourself - recycle the rest.

Filing options:   Paper has to be stored somewhere if you want to be organized.  Our goal is to be able to know where you've filed something important, and retrieve it easily.   And it's okay if your filing center doesn't look like mine. But you need something.

Files are the core foundation of paper organization, but you don't have to buy an ugly grey metal 4-drawer monster.  Nor do you have to follow someone else's rules.  Your files have to work with your personality, space and needs.  I am loving all the file cabinets I'm seeing in the stores these days.  I just saw a white cottage style file drawer at Walmart yesterday.  Personally, I have five filing areas at home. 

This cabinet has drawers for bills,
coupons and files on the bottom!

1)  A wood credenza for home and family needs.
2)  An ugly metal 4-drawer grey monster for business (in my husband's office)
3) A pretty desk-top action file holder
4)  One drawer in my personal desk for ministry and writing files
5)  Pocket folders for my kids' current school papers and activities (in a kitchen drawer)

Plus, I've got miscellaneous holders for different items.  I'll share those with you in coming days.

What do you need?

If you are single, you might just need an accordion file.  If there are two in your home, you might need a small cabinet like the one to the right.  If you've got a family, you might need something larger. 

If you have no money to invest right now, then get boxes.  Cardboard  or plastic tubs will work.  Use cardboard to divide your sections. Where there's a will, there's a way.   

Where to start?

We've got to know what's in our piles.  So take one stack you want to eliminate and spread your items out over a counter or table.  Stack all bills in one pile and coupons in another.  Create a stack for each child, or member of the household.  Basically, put like items together.  If you've already got places to put those items, then put them where they belong.  If you don't know what to do with it, then set your organized stack someplace safe and join me in the coming days for specific ideas for each type of paper. 

I've got lots of great tips, but we'll take things one at a time.

I want to end with this thought:   If you've tried this before, and haven't any success, perhaps you don't have an organization problem.  Perhaps it's a discipline problem.  And I might have some tips for that too.

In His Love,


  1. I want to be organized! Under my bathroom sinks area mess, my closets look like a tornado hit them and my bedside table is cluttered! Love the organized look!! Thanks for the tips!

  2. You hit the nail on the head with the discipline problem. I can be organized. I know how to be organized. I even have a lot of the stuff to be organized with. At work I'm compulsive with my organization. At home it's all in piles and places and is a mess. So I need a disciplinarian blog! :-)

  3. Discipline problem ..... that would be me :(
    I need a personal coach to keep me motivated :)
    These blogs have been a great encouragement to get moving on areas I have been ignoring.
    THANKS !!!

  4. We moved into a century old house last year and ever since I have not been able to find my cleaning/tidying/organizing groove with it! I now have a basement, main floor, 2nd floor and attic areas to contend with and am really struggling with getting it all in order! I have 4 kids and their rooms are disasters -- so it is hard to keep on top of them to keep their space tidy when I feel my house is a mess!

  5. Glynnis, I'm just loving your new blog! You must have created it with me in mind because it's sure helping me tremendously! Thanks so much!