Solutions to the Paperwork Problem.

The final question I will be answering from last Friday’s Ask Ashley post has to do with an extremely common cause of household clutter…..the mail. The question:

One of the major problem areas in our house is organizing the mail. Because there’s stuff you need to keep forever, some just for a few days, some until you pay something, some just because you want to. We have file folders for the really important stuff, but not sure what to do with less important stuff that isn’t trash. Also I have a lot of parenting magazines. I don’t like throwing them away, but don’t know what to do with them. Thanks!

Great question, now here are a few simple solutions for all that problematic paperwork:

First of all, buy a shredder. It doesn’t have to be a big expensive one (actually I like the small ones cause we don’t have a ton of space to keep a “serious” shredder in our place right now), as long as it can get the job done, you’re good to go.

Second, make a designated workspace. Even in the smallest of spaces you can still pick one certain area to do your bills, filing, and home business work in. This will force you to keep things neat and contained in an orderly fashion.

Just for a few practical ideas, I’ll give a quick synopsis of the system I use for our homes paperwork.

  • The two white boxes on the shelf. One is for bills to be paid (I can then easily find all the bills, when I sit down to do them, usually on the first Monday of each month) and the other box is for papers that need to be shred (when it gets full I shred the papers).

    Our Designated Workspace and Paperwork Solution.

  • The cork board/paper holder. This is used to display invites (for reminders to rsvp, directions info, etc.) and we often have rotating sayings, verses, pictures or notes on this board as well. Then the paper holder is there to hold certain mail items that are not normal bills, but still require some sort of reply or action on my part (this could be the mail that you keep for just a few days, as written about in the question above), I keep it out in the paper holder until I complete the task so I can remember to get it done asap.
  • The desk. I use one of the bottom drawers of the desk to keep our important household files (*I have had a friend offer to write a guest blog on more specifics as to how to do your files, watch for this post coming sometime soon), when the drawer begins getting to full, I take time to go through and get rid of old papers (putting them in the shredding box). Two of the drawers are used for Eric’s seminary work. One is used for my various paperwork/notebooks. The middle drawer holds office supplies, extra paper, pens, clips, etc.

Third, make your designated workspace an area you can enjoy. Take the time to do Organizing Stage #2: Planning. Make your workspace a great mix of both professional, practical, and personal. Meaning make it look like the pretty/professional workspace you want (this will help you feel more and even be more productive with the time you spend working here) but also give those personal touches with family pictures, fabrics/patterns/colors you like while then not forgetting to add a functional system of storage for how you use your homes workspace.

Fourth, concerning the magazine issue, Create a Design Ideas Notebook. Let me explain this one a little more in depth….I will now share with you all a small part of my organizational dorkiness. My Design Ideas Notebook! Eric took the picture posted here a couple years ago while laughing at how much fun I have working on my design notebook, I love it, its like a special treat for me to have time to just look through it and add to it…as seen here (Okay now I wanna stop writing this post and just look at my notebook….but I will stay focused).

Here’s how it goes down, when I get my Better Homes and Gardens Magazine I often keep three months worth before throwing them out because generally each season lasts about that long (winter, spring, summer, fall) so it is fun to have them displayed while still in season. Then sometime within those three months I make sure to go through each magazine and pull out the pages with ideas, recipes, entertainment tips, etc. that I want to use. These are then placed in plastic page protectors in my Design Ideas Notebook and the rest of the magazine can be thrown away without losing the ideas/pictures you wanted to save.

Working on my Design Ideas Notebook.

I have four different sections in my notebook: Organizing, Decorating, Cooking, and Entertaining. The different sections just keep it easier to navigate through the ideas when I want refer back to one and use it.

So there you have it, just a simple three ring binder quickly turns into a fun-filled treasury of ideas! I mean basically it would be crazy not to have one right?!

Below are some links to similar items I mentioned in this post to help create a better paperwork system in your home:


Set of 5 Document Boxes
Set of 3 White Small Storage Boxes
Vintage Mail Keeper
Home Decor Framed Cork Board
Note-it Style Combo Station 3 Hook Black
Wall Organizer
Hanging Wall Mail Rack with Photo Holder and Key Hooks

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8 Comments

Filed under Organizing Tips

8 responses to “Solutions to the Paperwork Problem.

  1. Jessica

    Those are great tips. Thanks for the ideas.
    I just bought an organizer that I put up next to the calendar on the wall to keep everything a little more organized like mail and somewhere to put my keys so I don’t lose them. I also have a letter sorter in my room to keep important things out in the open. All of our bills are online so it has really cut down on the paper in the apartment.
    I’m hoping to reorganized my ‘office space’ soon but with it being confined to my bedroom, it might take a while.

  2. Great tips. I especially love the Creative Ideas book. Actually I use evernote to keep track of my ideas.

  3. Great tips Ashley. I’m going to get my house organized this year with your help!!!

  4. Wow, Ashley! It’s amazing how you take something so baffling to me and break it down so I can understand it and being to put it in practice. I love it! Of course I won’t stop you if you ever want to come over and organize my wrapping paper closet!

    • Oh I totally can’t wait to transform your wrapping paper closet as soon as you get back from France! I have the picture saved in my Design Ideas Notebook actually, all ready to go!

  5. smiling. you and your notebook make me smile. because i get it. and would so enjoy looking through yours :)

    i used to have one. now it’s on the computer. i have a file that i save pictures of decor ideas to.

  6. I just needed to say hello, and I love your posts Ash! Every now and then I see one of your links on fb and pop over here…and as a decidedly un-organized person, I get a great new idea every visit. Amazing. It’s also so fun to see your little family. ♥

    • Aww…Hi Ashley! Thanks for saying hi and letting me know you enjoy the blog! It’s always fun to hear who’s reading! Glad you feel like your getting some great new ideas, hearing the tips are helping “a decidedly unorganized person” means they are really working! :) Happy to help! And so glad you enjoy the pics/stories of our little family too, I enjoy them IMMENSELY as well (obviously :)), God has seriously blessed me so much with Eric & Emma!

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