I think one of the most common problem is paper clutter and what to do with it and what to keep and what to shred. I will share with you what I do, but everyone is different so what works for me may not work for you, but maybe you will get some ideas that you could use.
I was inspired to really get a handle on this from I Heart Organizing's January Paper Challenge. I have to keep things simple or I won't use them, so for me, this is a simple process and it works for my family.
How we do our mail:
1. We open all of our envelopes. My husband gets the bills and he does those (thank goodness). He pays some online and mails others. He stores them in his filing bin that he can carry around. He only stores a year's worth of bills and documents in there and then we shred what needs to be shredded and store what needs to be stored in a bigger filing cabinet in the garage.
2. I get my portion of the mail - cards, reminders, invitations, kids school work and papers (not part of the mail) and the kids college fund paperwork which I keep and file.
3. Here is what I do - I set up my little system with labeled file folders. I have a folder for each child, a shred folder, a "to do" folder, a "to buy" folder and a "to file" folder, flexible spending folder (I keep receipts to turn into the flexible spending company) and Taxes (I keep these for my husband). I have a "to buy" folder because of lists from school or church that I need to buy things for.
As I stated, we have a small house so we don't have a seperate room for an office. Instead we purchased a corner unit from Ikea (on our bi-annual Ikea trip). We have a computer in there but we don't use it. I plan to load educational games on it for the kids but not have access to the internet on that one.
Here I store all the things we use frequently like index cards, paper clips and my chalk markers.
Here is where we keep the extra office supplies - extra tape, paper clips, staples, etc.
It is a box I got at the Goodwill a while back and I think it is for CD storage or something.
Binders! I keep a lot of binders as you can tell and if I kept things more aesthetically pleasing they would all match but I just use ones that I get for free or have found. I have a binder for each of the kids. I have a binder with holiday plans and information, gift ideas and project tutorials and ideas. I have my homemaking binder (to be discussed later) and my prayer binder.
The first binder is where I keep all of our office electronics manuals and CD-ROMs and such. I bought CD/DVD Binder Insert Pages (kind of like these).
I keep our printer in a separate little cabinet. I don't love it, but it works for now. I keep my new laminator under that with the paper and labels on the shelf under that.
For various other things I use these magazine holders from Ikea. I actually keep magazines in a few of them. I keep keepsakes and pictures in a few others until I get the chance to organize them. I keep some Bible study books in one and some reference books in others.
Next, what to do with all of those kids' papers that we get everyday or every week. Here is my current system, as I said I have a file folder for each child and everyday I put papers in there. But, honestly, I do my best to keep up on them everyday. I take them from the folder and immediately three hole punch them. Then I put them in a three ring binder with the child's name on it. I will go through this at the end of the year and keep only the most special ones (such as the paper below!). I will probably file it in a special file such as I Heart Organizing's system.
Next is what to do with DVD's, well, we don't honestly have a lot of DVD's. I sold a ton of them on Amazon a while back and now we only keep kids DVD's. I keep them in the above mentioned CD/DVD Binder Insert Pages in a bigger binder. I did throw away the cases (*gasp*) because they are bulky and I did not need them. I keep this up on a high shelf now to keep little fingers from grabbing it, but I do allow them to look through it and pick out their own movie when I am watching them.. As for VCR tapes, we have a few that are kept in a nicer looking container.
Are you bored yet, don't worry we are almost done. Next, is my homemaking binder. Here is where I deal with school calendars, church directories, garden plans, etc. You can find lots of resources on the web on how to make one and what to put in it. I would caution you to keep this one simple! I now have only about 5 tabs or so. The front contains any calendars I need - school, basketball, etc. The first actual section is addresses. I keep our church's address book in there and also my own family addresses that I store in Excel and print out in Word. I keep a few blank cards in there so I will be more apt to send encouraging cards, but I need to get better at that. I also have my garden file which contains plans and outcomes of the last few years. I have a schedule part that I don't use much and a planning section that I use for various things and that is about it. And I know it is not pretty I told you I'm pretty basic.
Going back to our mail - whenever I get invitations or make appointments I write them on our lovely chalkboard calendar that I purchased at Hobby Lobby. I use the Bistro Chalk Markers to write on it because I hate touching chalk.
And here is a crazy part to my system (it works for me), but I have a magnetic calendar on my fridge for the next month that I write more stuff on because I found that just having the current month wasn't working. I know I can use a regular wall calendar but this works for now. I write other things down on my small planner that I have when I have to make appointments way in advance.
Next is my most brilliant system ever - a bag! It is my library book system. After the "Magic Schoolbus" DVD incident (I had to pay for it after we lost it), I now keep this bag close to the back door and I put all of our library books and DVDs in it. If I take a book out to read I immediately put it back in the bag when I'm done. If we watch a DVD, back in the bag it goes as soon as we are done and that is it.
Tools I used:
CD/DVD Binder Page Inserts
3 Ring Binders
Chalkboard Calendar from Hobby Lobby
Dry Erase Calendar
There you have a glimpse into some of my systems. I will share more next week if you are interested. Just remember, even if you only have 15 minutes declutter something - like your kitchen or bathroom drawer or one file folder. Then whatever you are keeping MAKE a home for it!
Go forth and Organize!