I bet most of you have a stack of papers somewhere that you need to deal with, right?
So do I.
It doesn't matter if you work in the office or are a stay-at-home parent. There is always paperwork to be done.
Paperwork is an endless, joyless task, but hopefully I can make it a little easier for you.
To process papers, I start by dealing with things immediately whenever possible.
I get an invitation, note the time, date, and address in my planner, make a task to buy a gift and wrap it, and toss the invitation.
I receive a bill, mark the due date in my planner, and make a task to pay it. But where does the bill go until I pay it?
What about stuff that I can't get to immediately? And what about holding the bill until I have the money to pay it? Where does the bill go?
THE THREE BOX SYSTEM:
I use a system of three boxes to deal with paperwork.
For things that I cannot deal with right this second, I have an in-box.
CAUTION: Use this box sparingly and if anything is in it at all, take a second and create a task in your planner to "process in-box."
For things that I need to deal with at some point, but not quite yet and for things that I need to keep for the short-term instead of filing away, I use a hold box.
Examples of things that go in a hold box include:
-the bill that is noted in your planner and will be paid on Friday when you receive your paycheck,
-information from this school year that won't be relevant next year,
-t-ball schedules, and
-a project that you can't move forward on until Jane sends the numbers to you.
Notice in the above picture that I write HOLD on these items, along with the date (or action that needs to happen) when I will discard or file them away.
TIP: For sensitive items, use a sticky note instead of writing directly on the paper.
I do my filing in bulk, about once every two or three months. It's a recurring task (so circled so that when I complete it, I know to copy it two months forward) in my planner.
When going through paperwork, whether as a scheduled task or just checking the mail and realizing that something needs to be filed, I write FILE and the name of the file that it goes in. (I have a master list of files in OneNote, but you can jot one into your planner easily.)
For all three things, I use a magazine rack. I like the limited space. If any part of the rack gets full, it forces me to deal with the paperwork!
Something like this magazine rack, with three slots to hold papers, is perfect for using as an in-box, a hold box, and a file box.
If it is really painful to deal with paperwork, dump it all into a tote bag, go to your local coffee shop, and deal with it over a latte. That's what I do!
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