If you have children in school: preschool to high school or anywhere in between, you know there is a tremendous amount of paper that comes into your house. Some papers require action, some are sentimental keepsakes, and others can make their way to the recycle bin. Here are some ideas on keeping track of all these papers before you become overwhelmed (or fixing the problem if you are already overwhelmed).
A system to deal with papers when they enter your home is the beginning of an organized paper management system. Upon entry into your home, papers need a place to go otherwise they will end up on your countertops, dining room table, desk or floor.
An inbox of sorts works great. You can have a general family inbox or an inbox for each person. This is the most basic form of paper workflow. This inbox would be addressed frequently to avoid overflowing.
You can take paperwork management to the next level by creating a paper workflow system.
Immediate Action File This system has an immediate action file for parents. Which is the location where papers requiring immediate action are placed. That way when your kid is shoving a field trip permission slip in your face, while you’re in the middle of making dinner or on a phone call, he will instead know where to put it for you to address it when you are ready.
Holding Zone The paper workflow system also has a holding zone for each person. So each person can initially manage their own papers. This can hold homework that is due later in the week: notes from friends, invitations, artwork and completed homework. To manage the paperwork, let it pile up in the holding zone all week. As part of the workflow, establish a time each week that you and your family can go through the papers. During this time, you can review their work (artwork, graded homework, homework to be done, etc.) and decide what papers go to storage, need further attention or can be recycled. Your child may identify what papers they are ready to recycle after you see them.
The paper workflow system also has a holding zone for each person. So each person can initially manage their own papers. This can hold homework that is due later in the week: notes from friends, invitations, artwork and completed homework. To manage the paperwork, let it pile up in the holding zone all week. As part of the workflow, establish a time each week that you and your family can go through the papers. During this time, you can review their work (artwork, graded homework, homework to be done, etc.) and decide what papers go to storage, need further attention or can be recycled. Your child may identify what papers they are ready to recycle after you see them.
The papers that are going to storage, should be filed or stored soon after you go through the papers to prevent overwhelm. Papers for recycle go right to the recycle bin.
To-Do File Have a personal To-Do file for papers that need to be addressed or dealt with. Set aside time each week to work through the To-Do file.
Create a file bin for each child. Have one folder (or two) for holding a nice representation of the work they completed each school year. Some great items to keep are: nice samples of their homework, quality art projects, certificates of participation, awards, and a few photos to represent their age.
Digital storage is a great storage option for both children and adults. Digital
storage is great for less physical papers when storage space is limited or not
desired. By scanning your children’s work, you have the option of creating a custom
photo or art book for their work. These books are great for kids that like to
look back at their work and memories. Older kids can help create the books to
add a personalized touch.
Organizing kid’s papers is an ongoing job, but remember to
keep it simple and have fun. Staying on top of their papers will reduce your
stress, allow you keep what is meaningful, and address or recycle the rest.
If you want help getting started on filing your children’s
paperwork, an organizer can help. See if
Top Shelf Home Organizing can
help you on your journey. Contact Jayme to schedule a
consult or chat about organizing.
Organizing your library is fun when you select an organizing method that fits your personality and needs. There are two main methods for organizing books: by visual appeal and by topic. Which method you select will depend on a few things. Who accesses the books? Are you the only person who uses the books? Do you loan books to friends and family? Do your household members store and access the books as well? Are you a visual person or more of a systematic person? Consider these things when you determine how you want to organize your books.
Organizing your books visually is a great way to organize your books if you recall your books by color and design of the spine. This is also a great method if you are looking to display your books versus reference your books. Visual organization includes organizing by color, size, orientation and cover type. You may choose to use a combination of visual methods in your library. Additionally, sorting books by hard cover versus paperback, and then by color, is an option for combining different visual strategies.
You may select this method for its visual appeal and allowance for creativity. Creating a rainbow array or color block pattern may be your desire.
Size Aligning your books by height might create an interesting visual appeal for your collection. Organizing tall books with tall books and short books with short books will give your library a clean, structured look.
Physical Orientation Create visual interest when you arrange your books horizontally, vertically, or a combination of horizontal and vertical. Stacks of horizontal books can add a nice variety to your library and allow for select books to stand out from the rest. This is most practical for books that you don’t access regularly.
Cover Type Organizing your books by cover type is another visual method for organizing your books. Hard cover ‘heavier’ books on the bottom and paper back ‘lighter’ books toward the top of the shelf will give your library a nice structural look. This method is also great if you tend to recall your books by the spine design.
Organizing your books by topic works well when you have
multiple people in your home, and when you reference your books frequently. There are many, many ways to organize by
topic. I have listed some ideas below. Think about what works best for you. Combining
a couple methods may be required. For example, if you want to separate books by
family member and then alphabetically.
Read vs. Have Not Read This method is great to separate out the books you have not read yet. When you are ready to start a new book, you know right where to go. This is perfect for the person who buys a lot of books or receives a lot of books as gifts. For the books you have already read, consider keeping only the ones you have loved and plan to read and reference again. Consider donating the books that you are done with.
Favorites You may want to designate a special place to distinguish your favorite books. These are the books that have made a strong impact on you, and you want to display, share and admire.
Alphabetical If you tend to reference your books by title or author, alphabetical arrangement may work best for you. This is a great method if you have a lot of books. It is easy to find and return books as you will know right where they go.
Owner or Family Member If your library contains books that belong to many people, you may want to organize them by person. Place the kids books on a lower level of a shelf to make it easy for them to see, access and put away their books. If your husband still has all his college text books, those can go in his section. Each person can be responsible for their own books including how they are organized, which books they keep and which they donate.
Subject or Genre Arranging your books by subject or genre makes sense if you have a lot of books. This method is great when you tend to reference your books by subject. Subjects can include cookbooks, travel, history, professional resources, science fiction, educational, etc. Another simple method is to separate your books by fiction and non-fiction.
You may desire to combine two or three methods, possibly
both visual and topic methods. However, before you get started physically
organizing your books, make a list of the types of books you own and how you
like to use them. Remember to gather all the books in your home (basement,
attic, office and bedrooms) so you can see the entire collection before sorting
them into categories.
Have fun organizing your books and remember to keep it
simple. Donate the books you are done with that don’t bring you any joy.
If you find organizing your books to be stressful, an organizer
can help you complete your library organizing.
See if Top Shelf Home
Organizing can help you on your journey.
to schedule a consult or chat about organizing.
This is the time of year to get your finances organized! That
way you can have a plan for the year, and can get ready to prepare your tax
returns. This is not an article on how
to save money, or where the best place is to invest your fortunes. Before we
can think about heading in those directions, we need to know where and what our
current finances are. Here are some tips
on getting your finances organized.
Where is my Current Money? Jot down where all of your accounts are and their current balances. These accounts include savings, retirement, trusts, loans, credit cards, mortgages and medical debt. Share this information with your spouse or another responsible family member. Then if something happens to you, someone else knows where your finances stand.
What is my Monthly Income? When tallying your income, remember to account for dependent care reimbursements, child support, social security, rental income and your income from your job. I like to think about my income after benefits and tax income (the income that is available to live on). This helps to put in prospective what I have to spend.
Make a Plan Reflect on the last year or the last month. What where your expenses? Be honest. Then you can look forward to what expenses you will have in the coming year. Be honest. If medical expenses were $5,000 last year, will they be similar this year?
Divide Your Money
into these Four Categories:
Fixed –These are the monthly expenses that are probably not going to change. They may include housing, utilities, medical, food, tuition, etc.
Philanthropy – This is the money you plan to give each month. This can include religious contributions, charitable giving, capital campaign commitments and pop up fundraisers (think neighbor kid raising money for the class trip to Washington DC, or the Scout selling wreaths).
Future – This is where you plan for your and your family’s future. This may include retirement, savings, college savings, etc.
Fun – This is the category that we all live for. This could include traveling, movies, sporting events, dinner out, golfing, gym memberships, a photography class, and so on.
Simplify Your Spending Consider using a cash only system or using one standard credit card for your purchases. This makes tracking your spending (and debt) simplified by having one platform to review your spending. Knowing where all your money is and where your money will go, will help you to get a grasp on getting your money organized. There are great apps available to assist you with budgeting and tracking where your money goes. Mint, Wally and NYAB are popular apps that are user friendly.
Organizing your money will help you to make better decisions when unexpended expenses or fun opportunities are presented to you.
An organizer can help you determine where your money is and detail where your money will go. See if Top Shelf Home Organizing can help you on your journey. Contact Jayme to schedule a consult or chat about organizing.
Giving experiences does not have to cost a lot of money or put you into debt. An experience can be as simple as an afternoon in the park, inviting someone into your house for a homemade dinner or going for a hike together. No one wants you to go broke purchasing material gifts for them.
2. Make Memories
The memories created when you spend time one-on-one with friends or family are kept forever. The anticipation alone of an experience can bring much more joy than a material gift. They are not tangible like a bottle of wine or a set of decorative towels that will soon be used up or packed away into storage.
3. Quality Time
Time with a loved one brings you closer and allows you to focus on the relationship you hold dear. Friendship is spending time together listening, learning and helping. Memberships, lessons and outings together are great quality time.
4. Less Stuff
Material gifts soon find their way into storage or are left to feel more like clutter. Toys are left on the floor to be tripped over and pieces lost. Eventually, a material gift can add stress and burden to the recipient.
Still not sold on the idea of giving an experience instead of a material gift?
Start slow. Consider a fun photo frame to give with the experience so a photo of them enjoying the experience can be placed in the frame. Create a memory book of the past year’s activities, outings and experiences. Give a puzzle or game that you can play with your friends and family. These options still give you the opportunity to spend time and create memories together.
Have fun and enjoy making memories. If organizing and planning are overwhelming, a professional organizer can help. See if Top Shelf Home Organizing can help you on your journey. Contact Jayme to schedule a consult or chat about organizing.
Take some time to organize your holiday décor this year. You likely have décor and ornaments that you have in storage, but typically don’t display them. Here are some tips on getting them organized.
Get all the ornaments and décor out from storage including the attic, basement and storage unit. Then, unwrap, touch and hold each piece.
Sort each piece into groups:
1. Use this year – I love these decorations.
2. Not going to use this year – I am keeping it simple this year, but love these decorations.
3. Not going to use this year – Actually, I never want to use these.
4. Not going to use this year – Family heirlooms, I must keep these forever, but will never use.
After the sort is done, plan for storage. Allow storage space for the décor and decorations you will use this year. Then, carefully pack up the family heirlooms that you want to keep, but will not necessarily display often. Lastly, take careful considerations to remove the items that do not bring you joy.
Have fun and enjoy this process. If organizing your holiday decor is overwhelming, a professional organizer can help. See if Top Shelf Home Organizing can help you on your journey. Contact Jayme to schedule a consult or chat about organizing.