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How to Stop the Paper Trail – Photographs

We’ve been working through letting go of paper clutter over the past few weeks, tackling areas and methods to eliminate the stream of paper and piles.  We only have two areas left…today we’re going to talk about photograph storage.
Photographs are a touchy subject because there are so many forms and ways to store them.  How you store and keep photographs is a personal preference, with no real right or wrong way.  Obviously, if your photos are taking over a room or part of your life, it’s too much, but today let’s look at some ways to store and keep photographs.
I keep extra photos in photo boxes in an upper shelf in our craft room closet.  You can see the whole post about my craft room here if you are interested.
I like having favorite pictures in frames throughout the house, but I do photo albums too and we keep them in a little antique hutch in our living room.  We love to look through photo albums!
Here are some other great ideas for organizing your photograph storage from my Pinterest board….
This is a great tutorial from ABFOL on how to organize your photos digitally
another great tutorial from chezlarsson.com

 

great storage tool from The Container Store
I love this idea from a thousand words for photo books

 

So….what’s your method for photo storage?
If you haven’t seen this yet, how about a ‘paper’ checklist?
Click here to see all the posts in this series.

I’ve got a BIG announcement here on the blog on Wednesday – I can’t wait to share it with you!  See you then!

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How to Stop the Paper Trail – Card Storage

We’ve been working through letting go of paper clutter over the past few weeks, tackling areas and methods to eliminate the stream of paper and piles. Today we’re talking about CARD STORAGE!  Perfect for this time of year, no?  I’m not talking about cute displays for your Christmas cards that you see all over the place this time of year, I’m talking about what you do after the birthday or holiday is over.  Do you keep them, toss them, save them in a special place?  I don’t keep all cards, but the special ones I do save.  My ‘organization method’ for cards is a ziploc bag with the event and year on them.  Totally not archivally safe and not a great method, but at least it’s a step better than crammed in the back of a drawer, right?  So I’m working through this with you and I’m here today to provide some ideas for cards storage for all of us.  Here are a couple ideas that I’ve rounded up….
cute idea if you only save a couple really special cards

 

use an expandable file folder – divide by person, year, event…
this could work, but the cards would have to be on the smaller side
my favorite idea – cute covered box for card storage

 

 So….do you have a great method to share your sentimental card storage?
Clickhere to see all the posts in this series.
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How to Stop the Paper Trail – Binders

We’ve been working through letting go of paper clutter over the past few weeks, tackling areas and methods to eliminate the stream of paper and piles.  Today we’re talking about BINDERS!  They are my favorite tool to organize paper.  I feel like my binders are like my homekeeping brain on paper – all the things and ideas I have swirling around can be put to paper and filed away in a neat and tidy way.

 

Why use a binder?
  • Isolate a subject or a variety of subjects in one, easy to locate place.
  • Portable filing system - no need to haul a filing cart or box around.
  • Inexpensive – there are so many different types and styles of binders, you are sure to find a style that you like and fits your needs.
  • They can be stored in a drawer, on a bookshelf, in a cabinet, on top of your desk.
  • Use one subject per binder or many subjects per binder – flexible!
  • Reusable – binder not working for one thing, switch it up and use it for something else.
What can you put in a binder?  The options are endless, but here are some ideas to get you started.
  • Homekeeping tools (cleaning checklists, maintenance schedules)
  • Budget and bill pay information
  • School papers (phone numbers, teacher info, etc.)
  • Important papers that you don’t need all the time, but you might need to grab in a hurry (insurance paperwork and forms, automobile info, banking/investment data, etc.)
  • Projects – separate by specific projects or keep a binder with all your projects in one place
  • Recipes – one of my all-time favorite binder projects

Want to see how I use binders in my home?  I use them everywhere and for most types of paper storage.  Here’s a round-up of posts on a few types of binders to get you started:

How about you?  Have you hopped on the binder bandwagon?  What do you use binders for?
Inspired to start a binder collection?  Well it’s your lucky day -  I’ll be back later TODAY with a BIG giveaway sure to get a binder started for you!  Any guesses as to what the giveaway is?
Clickhere to see all the posts in this series.
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How to Stop the Paper Trail – School Papers

We’ve been working through a series on letting go of paper clutter and this week’s topic is school papers.  They’re sentimental, sweet, and if you let them, they’ll take over your house.  My kids bring home piles of papers every.single.day.  I love going through them with them and talking about their days, what they learned, and what the paper is all about.  But….we don’t keep them.  I use two ‘systems’ for school papers and the system has been working really well for us, so I thought I’d share.
I keep papers that need to be returned to school, calendars, permission slips, etc. on their own clipboards in our office.
Then, the super cute, super special papers go in a file box for the school years.  The kids help me decide what is special enough to keep and what can be recycled.  I have these 3 free printables if you’d like to make them for your family’s school memory box post, follow the link below the picture.
Here’s my/our criteria – precious artwork (I am an art teacher, so the drawings and paintings tend to rank a little higher), a stellar test, adorable story, or something really special that can’t be made again.
Here are a couple more great ideas for school paper storage….
This is my all-time favorite idea for art work – scan the images, shrink them down, and put all special artwork from a school year on one picture.  Have professional prints made and put in a frame and under glass.
(I cannot find the original source, so if you know of it, let me know!)

I love the look of this, an upgrade from the clipboard and a great idea!

This is so great – a cubby for every family member – school papers could easily be in here waiting to be signed or filed.
This isn’t for school papers, but what a great idea to keep all those oh-so-important baby papers!So what’s your school paper solution or system?  Any great tips to share?

The big ‘Get Organized’ Sale in my Etsy shop ends tonight at 10cst – if you haven’t grabbed your printables at 30% off, today’s the last sale day….
I’ll be back later today with a great giveaway – hint – if you like Washi tape, you’ll LOVE the giveaway!
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Click here to see all the posts in this series.

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How To Stop the Paper Trail – Organized Bill Paying

How about a little organized bill paying?  Bill paying is inevitable and it typically isn’t very cute.  I am a visual learner and person, so bills are not my forte.  But, add a little cuteness to them and I am totally on board.  This is how I keep track of my bills – what needs to be paid, what’s been paid, saved, and progress on debt.  (You could easily do this with a notebook and pen, a binder, a folder….anything that works for you – I am just showing you how I handle the bill paying.)

 

Today’s post is one to get you thinking about how you pay your bills – is there a better way for you to track things?  Are you sick of having stacks of bills?  This week’s challenge is to see what can you do to simplify your bills and bill paying.
 I used a report cover and plastic dividers with pockets
then I used the free template that came with the plastic dividers to make six sections/tabs (checklist, due 1-15, due 16-31, savings, debt, budget)
use the pockets to keep track of savings and debt repayment ( I don’t know about you, but seeing my savings and debt on paper is very motivating)
I keep the budget at the very back of the folder – it’s for 3 months at a time, so it’s nice to see three months laid out in front of me.
What’s helpful for you to keep your bills in order and organized?
I used my Budget + Bill Pay Kit from my shop for this post – if you are interested, I sell it in brights and aqua + lime versions.
 
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Click here to see all the posts in this series.

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How to Stop the Paper Trail – Bills

Last week we talked about mail and setting up a mail station.  Once you have a mail station, you are ready to conquer the bill clutter.  (I know that bills are mail, but to me it’s much more manageable and less overwhelming to break it down a little bit.)
The obvious ways to eliminate bill clutter is to do electronic bill pay through your bank or through websites like  Manilla or mint.com.  But…there will still be bills that come in the mail and you will need some sort of a system to check off bills, balance your checkbook, know that things are paid on time, and shred or save bills.  Personally, I do a hybrid of online bill pay through the bank and mailing bills in.  Today we’re going to look at a couple ways to sort bills and organize that area of paper clutter.  So it’ll be a round-up of bill paying cuteness and inspiration and ideas – ready?
Here’s an idea to use file folders – one for bill pay stuff and the other for receipts

 

Very simple idea, but totally effective.

 

Toni from A Bowl Full of Lemons has amazing tips in this series on organizing your finances.
Looking for what you need to store your bills once you’ve paid them?  Here are some recommended supplies:
Once you pay your bills, put them in the correct month’s file – save for the year and then shred.  Keeping stamps, address labels/stamp, pens, pencils and a calculator grouped together will make your bill paying simple and easy.
Later this week, I’ll share how I use my Budget + Bill Pay Kit to organize my bills.
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Click here to see all the posts in this series.

 

New in the shop:
The CLEAN House Kit (introductory price!)
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How to Stop the Paper Trail – Set Up a Mail Station

Monday I talked about reducing your mail clutter – hopefully you’ve been able to make some progress on your mail situation the last couple days.  Today, let’s talk about setting up a mail station.
Why set up a mail station?
Creating a space to drop your mail, pay your bills, etc. is a step towards less paper piles and a more organized household.
What’s in my mail station?
You need to decide what will most effectively work for you in your home for a mail station, but here are some ideas:
in/out containers
pens, pencils
calendar
stamps
checkbook
calculator
paper shredder
letter opener
phone charger
addresses/phone numbers (rolodex)
catch-all container (chapstick, nail clipper, keys, extra garage door opener, wallet)
Here’s my mail station – I’ve labeled the picture so you can see where I’ve put my supplies.
What are some must-haves for you in your mail station?  Anything I left out?
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Click here to see all the posts in this series

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How to Stop the Paper Trail – Mail

This week we’re going to work on stopping the paper trail as it pertains to mail.  We’re going to work through 3 things this week (all are detailed today).  First off, here are a couple simple guidelines regarding mail if you want it to pile up less.
  • open your mail over the recycling or garbage can – toss junk mail in the recycling can in your garage
  • quickly separate mail – open bills and put them in a bill paying spot – dispose of any extras that come with the bills, have a designated spot for other mail that you need to come back to
  • pay your bills electronically if you can and/or want to (we’ll talk more about bills and bill paying next week)
  • sign up for ebills to limit paper bills
Second, set up a mail station – even if it’s as simple as a basket to catch your mail.  Set something up that’s easy to access for any family member that brings mail and paper into the house. Here are a couple ideas:

 

Once you’ve set up a system (remember, it can be as simple as a basket), then you’ll want to figure out how to limit unwanted paper.  Here are a couple helpful sites and resources that I found while I was researching how to cut down on junk mail:
  • Direct Mail Choice (DMAchoice) - this is the Direct Mail Choice company – if you go to this website, you can select what types of direct mail you receive and what you don’t receive
  • Catalog Choice – this is a free service to opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more
Want more info?  Here are a couple apps and a resource that can help with the paper clutter for those of you that are oh-so-digital:
This app takes all your store cards and reward cards and puts them in one place on your phone – neat!
The Magic Envelope is a resource that sends you a postage paid envelope – you fill it up and then they make all your paper digital – crazy, right?

 

This is a fun app that a reader recommended – you take a photo of your junk mail and PaperKarma gets rid of it for you.
And finally, I’d like to challenge you to CLEAR your surfaces.  If I don’t stay on top of it, there are little and big piles from one end of the kitchen to the next.  Everything from school papers, mail, magazines and catalogs, bills, artwork…..When I start to feel overwhelmed or if I let it go for more than a couple days, it’s too much.  What do I do?  CLEAR everything off and put it in a grocery bag and set it aside.  Then I wipe down the surfaces, arrange what’s supposed to be there, and I don’t put the papers back.  Instead, I sort through them right away and put them in their proper place or I set the bag aside until I have time to get to it.  (This will only work if you get to the bag later in the day or by the next – you don’t want to start a habit of having bags of stuff stashed around the house.)  Another helpful tip is to add ‘declutter’ to your daily cleaning routine.  Like everything else, doing a little bit everyday is easier than trying to tackle everything all at once.
I’ll be back this week to talk more about how to deal with mail clutter and I’ll be sharing my ‘mail station’ as well.
How do you limit your mail clutter?  Any great tips to share?
Click here to see all the posts in this series.
Looking to get organized in 2013?  Check out my new kit – The 2013 Clean + Organized Lifestsyle Kit

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How to Stop the Paper Trail – Receipt Storage

Let’s continue working through our paper trail, shall we?  This week we’ve been tackling receipts.  A few people wondered why I was sorting receipts…..if you itemize taxes and take deductions, you need to keep those receipts for at least 7 years in the event of an audit.  So the receipts pile up.
Here are some guidelines from Bankrate.com.
Here’s the process I used to sort through my receipts:
1. sort them by year
2. then into categories that make sense for your filing system – my categories are:
food + entertainment
home improvements
gas + travel
medical
I put three years’ of receipts in one plastic box – as long as the envelopes are labeled, this is a great way to consolidate receipts and save on storage space.
You could use a shoe box, a small plastic box, large envelope, or another type of storage container.
I used these plastic storage document boxes:
Let’s talk receipts, shall we?  What are you doing for your receipt storage?
Click here to see all the posts in this series.

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How to Stop the Paper Trail – Guidelines

As we’re knee-deep in receipts this week, I thought it would be helpful to do a little Pinterest round-up of paper guidelines that I’ve found around the web.
Here goes:
This is a great at-a-glance visual for quick refererence from Storables

 

Good Housekeeping suggests specifics for where to keep important documents – great things to consider like an emergency file:

 

The Wall Street Journal details 25 documents that we should all have in a handy place just in case

 

I love this pretty graphic from Just Organize Your Stuff.com – this is for the indecisive visual learner (me):

 

 

Any other paper purging guidelines you’ve discovered?  How’s your receipt-wrangling coming along?
See you back here tomorrow with my new receipt system!

Click here to see all the posts in this series.

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How to Stop the Paper Trail – Receipts + FREE Printable

Yesterday I introduced you to a little series I’m calling How to Stop the Paper Trail  and to be perfectly honest with you, I was surprised that paper seems to be a problem for so many of us.  I wasn’t sure if it was just me with the paper nemesis, and clearly, it isn’t.  Paper everywhere seems to be a common thread and not knowing what to do with it all is very normal.  So all of this is super inspiring and helpful to me because I know we can learn from each other and just knowing that there is someone out there tackling the same thing at the same time is fun to me too.
The first task we’re going to tackle is to get a handle on receipts – between now and Friday just round them all up and sort them.
(I can access all of my receipts via online banking and they are sorted automatically into categories, but we keep paper receipts just in case.)
Want to see why I started this whole series?  It’s because of this hot mess:

it doesn’t look bad, but open that itty bitty door and here’s what I’m talking about:

 

Try this for a quick sort:
1. sort them by year
2. then into categories that make sense for your filing system – my categories are:
food + entertainment
home improvements
gas + travel
medical
That’s it.  Once we’ve accomplished this, we’ll worry about what to do with them next.  I have a very simple system of medium sized  envelopes (5×8) - one for each category with the year on it.
You didn’t think we’d tackle paper clutter without a printable did you?
How about a ‘paper’ checklist?
Click here to see all the posts in this series.

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How to Stop the Paper Trail

There are only nine weeks left in 2012 and to finish it out right in true ‘Clean and Organized 2012′ fashion, I’m going to take us through a simple series on letting go of paper clutter.  Paper clutter is my nemesis and I’ve made great strides in the past couple years, but I want to really kick the paper clutter to the curb by the end of 2012.
{If you are waiting until New Year’s to make this your resolution, just start here now, it’ll be simple and they say a habit takes three weeks to form, so you’ll have the paper trail under control and you can concentrate on a better use of your resolution energy.}
I’ll suggest a task at the beginning of each week and update during the week with  progress and/or ideas.  I’d love it if you chime in on Facebook or in the comments with your ideas, links, successes, and struggles.  For now, tell me if you are “in” or if you are interested and what your biggest paper clutter issue is.  I’ve started a pinboard of great paper clutter busting ideas.  If you have figured out a clever way to store/sort/get rid of paper, leave a link in the comments and I’ll pin it to the board.   I’d absolutely LOVE it if you pinned this post to get the word out.
Click here to see all the posts in this series.

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Clean + Organized 2013 – Do These 4 Things Every Day

Last week I talked about the Daily Cleaning Tasks that I rotate through every week.  These are the daily cleaning tasks that I post on my Facebook page and Tweet every morning as little reminders.

Monday - Bathrooms

Tuesday – Dusting

Wednesday – Vacuum

Thursday – Wash Floors

Friday – Catch-All Day

Saturday – Sheets + Towels

If you are just starting my cleaning routine, hopefully you’re getting used to spending 15 minutes or so every day on the daily cleaning tasks.

Here’s the  ‘do these 4 things every day’ part of my cleaning routine:

Most days I need to at least do a quick sweep of the hardwood floors on our first level.    Sometimes I need to haul out the vacuum cleaner and do a little touch up, but most of the time it’s just a once-over with my sweeper.  My kids are in charge of crumb clean-up under the kitchen table with a little mini broom and dust pan.  You can go here to see what products I use to sweep and vacuum my floors.

I wipe the kitchen counters after each meal and I check the bathroom counters daily and if they need to be wiped down, I give them a little wipe down.  I use this method for kitchen counter clean up and keep bar mop towels in a cute jar for easy access and great wipe-down capability.

Clutter is different for every person and family.  If you have a big clutter problem you could use this item on your list to get some decluttering done every day.  Make a list of all your little clutter areas and then every day spend 15 minutes knocking them off your list.  For me, I use this time to sort through daily mail and papers.  I need to deal with paper clutter every day to keep up with it and not let it get out of control.  (If you struggle with paper clutter too, I did a paper series a couple months ago – you can see all the posts here.

I do at least one load of laundry every.single.day.  I know it sounds annoying and monotonous, but for me it’s the only way to stay on top of the potential piles and piles of laundry.  So this is how it usually goes – Monday – kid clothes, Tuesday – adult clothes, Wednesday – cleaning rags and dishtowels, Thursday – kid clothes, Friday – adult clothes, Saturday – sheets and towels,  Sunday – anything that’s unfinished.   Curious about my favorite laundry products?  Check out this post.  What’s the key to making one load a day work?  Actually starting AND finishing a whole load of laundry every day.  Don’t let it pile up in a corner or on a table or couch or bed.  Start it and finish it.  It’s a great process to master because you will have clean clothes at the ready at any time and you shouldn’t have to iron as often if the clothes are put away right away.

So how’s the routine-ing coming along?  Any questions on the 4 daily tasks?

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