Sunday, 24 February 2013

Organising Paperwork into a Household Folder System.

One of my goals for 2013 was to 'get the house organised once and for all and maintain it'. I have tried (and failed) on and off over the years to get more organised and I've gradually gained a bit more control, picking up a few ideas here and there but then I got stuck. About 18 months ago we started looking for a bigger house and lots of things that needed doing here, whether they were house maintenance or decluttering, were put on the back burner 'until we moved'. Three failed house purchases later (we have a really complicated system here in the UK) we have decided to embrace small home living...... and finally get organised!

In the last couple of months an awful lot of decluttering, downsizing and re-organisation has taken place, but our paperwork has sat in several boxes in the lounge until today..... it was useful in a way as every time I found some I added it to the boxes...... but it has been nagging at me from it's place beside the sofa!!!

This morning the mood took me to sort it out and I went through it whilst flipping breakfast pancakes for my children - a good use of a long time spent standing in the kitchen!! I made piles of different sorts, put a massive stack in the recycling bin and anything of a sensitive nature by the burner to be destroyed. As I worked I noted that there were two sorts of papers...... those that we used regularly and those that are rarely needed but still important.

I had kept two large lever arch files from a previous massive paperwork purge and into these I neatly filed everything in plastic pockets between dividers, using large white labels stuck back to back over the edges of the dividers (to cover up the previous writing and to make them stick out more. I was happy to be recycling stationary from previous uses...... I had been momentarily tempted to create pretty labels and covers like I have seen on numerous other blogs and sites but quickly decided that it wasn't necessary and my financial statements would be perfectly happy in a plain folder!!
The short term folder has space for gift lists, schedules, budgeting and goals as well as pure paperwork. I like an idea that I've seen before where the folder was like a household manual that could be picked up by someone else if there was an emergency and things would run smoothly - so it included things like times and addresses of sports lessons, doses of medication and where to get a replacement prescription, phone numbers of friends who knew the children well and could help out and so on. There is still some work to do to get all that together but the paperwork is well organised at least!

To finish off, there is a 'to-do' file and a 'to file' folder in the letter rack in the hall, simple hole-punched plastic folders that open at the top and are easy to add things to. I deal with the mail as soon as I pick it up and recycle and file whatever arrives. A 'one in one out' approach works for things like water bills and I keep other papers for longer such as a year's worth of payslips. I have tried a few different ways of organising it over the years but I have a good feeling about it this time! It feels good to be one step closer to having a properly organised home and life!!!

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