What typically ends up cluttering your kitchen counters? I think the most common answer is mail and all the papers your children bring home from school. It can be overwhelming, especially once it begins to pile up. There are a few things that I use to help me organize paper clutter and keep those counters clear.
My command center works hard for me. It is located on a wall in my kitchen which is where all the school papers get unloaded at 3:30pm every day.
There are some key elements that have made this command center work well for us.
First: Dedicate a spot for homework.
Both littles get their homework on a weekly basis to be worked on as they see fit. I love this BTW because if we have something going on one night they can skip homework and double up the next night. This means that having someplace to store it is important so that nothing gets lost or forgotten.
I built this file holder from scrap wood I had laying around my shop. There is one holder for each child (well two of my kids have them, my oldest already graduated.) I will post the plans for it soon, so you can make your own.
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Second: Have a show off spot.
Here is my method for school papers. The tests and adorable pictures that should be displayed go right up onto the colored clips. Each child gets 2 spots to show off their work. Any special papers that will be fun to look back on go into a storage box and the rest go to purgatory aka the top of the refrigerator. They sit there for the week until I am sure there isn’t something in there the kids will ask for later and then the purgatory pile gets recycled.
Important notices or long term project information go up onto the monogrammed clipboards, out of reach of little hands so nothing gets lost.
Third: Keep Everyone on Task
We also have their chore charts and the family calendar up on the command center to keep everyone on task. A small hanging bucket holds dry erase markers and chalk.
A printable version of the chore chart can be found HERE, in my printable library.
Shop my command center
This is something I have used for years upon years and it keeps my bills so organized! It isn’t an overly sophisticated system, but it keeps my bills paid on time and keeps the piles of monthly statements off the counter.
These are some things I use in my binder.
One great piece of advice is to enroll in as many e-statements as possible. Then you just have to stay on top of your email. I gave some helpful tips on how to do that HERE.
Tip: If there are tax deductions or itemizations on some of your monthly statements, be sure to create a computer file for those and download them each month to make tax season a little easier on you.
When it comes to organizing all the monthly bills, I find it helpful to keep a spreadsheet of what bills we have and what day they are due. I organize it by week because I balance our checkbook and pay bills weekly.
It is very simple to set up in Numbers or Excel. I have it set up to automatically populate totals as I enter amounts to keep our budget in check. It lives on my computer and I just duplicate it each month.
Tip: Autopay is a great option for those expenses that offer it. At least you know you won’t be late on those payments.
Next, any paper bills that need to be sent out or paid electronically go in the pockets of the weekly tab dividers. The dividers are labeled by week. I pull out the bills each week at bill paying time.
One divider holds some envelopes, a pen, return address labels and stamps. I use my iPhone calculator, but if that doesn’t work for you toss a calculator in there as well.
Add in a couple more tab dividers for things to be filed and things to be kept temporarily, like receipts.
I print out some large check registers and keep them in my binder. Those tiny ones that come with checks don’t work for me. And in order to keep track of all the passwords for the online bill paying I do, I have a password tracker.
The check register and password sheet are both available in my printable library, which you can find HERE.
Two baseball card protector sheets hold all our credit cards that we have but don’t use on a regular, as well as business cards that I collect from people that do any work for us.
My paper shredder is a big part of conquering paper clutter. I keep it in my husband’s office space which is right near our mudroom. When I walk in with mail, I immediately shred any credit card applications or other nonsense mail that I do not need to review but may contain personal information. I use this one and it works great.
I hope those tips help you organize paper clutter taking over your counters!
THIS POST IS PART OF THE ORGANIZE YOUR ENTIRE LIFE SERIES. CHECK OUT ALL THE POSTS IN THE SERIES HERE:
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