As organizers, we tend to notice similarities and trends in the organizational challenges of our clients. Some are unique to certain people, some to the layout of the home. And other clutter causers are the same in every single household. Perhaps the most notorious of these is….THE PAPER TRAIL (cue imminent shark attack music).
The Paper Trail is easy to identify and oh-so-difficult to control. Without a system to process the constantly incoming bills, schoolwork, receipts, coupons, and other bits of paper, they can easily take over.
This blog is a series of four easy-to-follow household organizing tips that will address the Paper Trail and provide tips and methods to contain those pesky bits of paper littering your countertops. I hope these are helpful to you! Please comment below if you have any personal tips that have worked for you. Thank you and Happy Organizing.
The Quick Sort Station
Now that you have your Household Hub established (if you missed the post on how to build it, check that out here), let’s deal with those piles of paper that are sitting out because they require some form of action. Unlike items that go into the Hub and are referred to over and over, items that are organized with the Quick Sort solution are dealt with – and then tossed or shredded.
Here’s how it works: To build Your Quick Sort Station, you will need an upright acrylic or mesh file with 3-4 pockets. (We say that vertical is visual, horizontal is hidden.)
Inside your Quick Sort will live 3-5 files (not more!) to temporarily house all paper that requires an immediate action. You should name these files by verb and according to the types of paper that regularly come into your home. Some good ones to start are “To File”, “To Call”, “To Pay” and “To Read”.
Your Quick Sort Station should live right in a front hallway or landing pad area. It could also go on the counter where your mail collects. It will be easier to organize these papers if this area is central and close to the action.
I like to stand over my Quick Sort file as I open the mail. Keep a recycling bin nearby and drop envelopes and ads directly into the bin. As you go through the mail or other paper, drop them directly into the Quick Sort file.
Here is the catch (there is always a catch, people!): paper that goes into your Quick Sort DOES NOT GET TO LIVE THERE. It is simply a funnel to contain the paper according to the action associated with it for brief time.
Frequently and on a designated day, review your Quick Sort file and take action on those items. Perhaps you will pull out your “To Pay” section at the end of every month and pay them at that time while pulling your “To Read” file once a week. Find a system for reviewing these items that works for you and then commit to it.
Some clients feel that adding a Quick Sort Review to their calendar allows them to remember to go through these files. Others have a designated time each week. The important thing is to be consistent and make the time to review it.
Let us know how this Quick Sort solution for organizing works for you and feel free to share this post!