Piles and Piles of Paper, Oh My! by Amelia Barnes, Life Coach, Indianapolis, INWhether at home or at the office, dealing with piles of paper can be a nightmare.  Filing, sorting and maintaing paper is an area I have never been particularly good at.  In fact I have started dozens of filing systems but have never consistently followed up with the regular maintenance required.  Once I file a paper,  using other people’s systems, I’ve never easily been able to find it again.  I must have ten different recipe files for recipes to try.  My go to place for recipes is a three ring binder with those clear plastic pages so I can insert recipes, inside are my treasured recipes such as a zucchini quiche recipe that a friend brought over with the birth my first child – now 33.  It also holds my Christmas lasagna recipe,  as well as a decadent apple pie recipe with walnuts and cream cheese from a former neighbor.   I love to cook so I have made it a point to keep and be able to find my prized recipes.

What has NOT Worked

  • The number system with numbers as file labels.  Every new file is given a number say gardening becomes 1,  the next file is on pets so that is a 2, etc.  Then a list is kept of what all the number mean.  It’s incredible easy to file but then very hard to retrieve – I had to have the list.
  • Then there’s The no hanging file folders.  The drawer just got messy and sloppy and I couldn’t find anything.
  • The overly detailed file system – so many categories, I could never make a decision on what to put where. Filing categories that make sense to other people but not to me.
  • Not doing follow up and maintenance on a consistent basis.
  • Keeping too much stuff,  if you can easily find it elsewhere or on the internet, don’t keep it.

Start With What Works

My treasured recipe file in a notebook works.  I’ve decided to take another three ring binder – personally I like three ringer binders if you don’t like them, this system won’t work for you.  I’ve decided to keep a three ring binder with pockets for different categories of food for recipes to try.  Making a photo copy out of a book or magazine is an easy way to keep them as I am focused on trying new healthy recipes so I won’t be so tempted to go to my old favorites that are not always the healthiest. One drawer hold financial records – mortgage, charges, bank statements, investments, auto repair, medical etc for the year even a photo copy of what’s in wallet and my passport (and other family members passports) just in case I would ever need them. I have nice hanging file folders complete with nice labels made by a wonderful tool the label maker. My grandfather used a label maker, the old one letter at a time kind, to label his nails and small pieces, he kept in mayonnaise and baby food jars for woodworking in his garage.  I followed him around everywhere as small child and maybe that’s why I love my label maker so much is because of those feel good memories.   With the help of the label maker, my files look neat and orderly – inside is a file folder with the current year’s date – and one for last years as I am still finding old papers that had not been sorted,  Each year the correct year file can go in a box with the taxes and then a new file folder is started. Feeling better already, at least I have two systems that work.  What are the systems for keeping paper intact that working for you now?  Congratulate yourself.  Appreciate yourself.  I feel much better as I think about my successes about going into a day of filing.

Starting Place for Paper

Gather all the current paper in a box from around the house.  Start with the current stuff so you won’t miss anymore due dates or bills.  I keep a recycling box and a shredding box to first narrow down what I have.  Then I sort into big categories.  Remember like things together.  You may have a full box on kids school and art work or antique cars.  Since I do much of my paper work from home, it’s important for me to keep home and business files separate.  Start with a rough sort into boxes  depending on how much paper you have.  Keep the action items and the bills to pay in a separate place. Let me know what has worked and not worked for you. I, Amelia Barnes, focus on women in midlife who are in transition to inspire them to gain clarity , confidence and courage on creating and succeeding in the next chapter of their lives.

Note: For the month of October I have decide to focus on clutter and organization since for so many of us that gets in the way of creating what we most want.  To find out more, sign up for my enewsletter: Click here.

Let me know what has helped and not helped you in clearing the clutter and getting organized.

Photo Credit: Ron Wiecki via Compfight cc