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Introduction. Paperwork had for many years been something that I struggled with. It actually was my least favorite chore. In a manner of speaking, I would describe dealing with paperwork in the past as the “bane of my existence”! Now with all joking aside (kind of), I can tell you that dealing with paperwork and how I feel about it in general, has changed for me. “How could that happen?”, you might ask. Well, it was not a quick process for me – however, it did happen. I think that is what is important – and hopefully it will give you hope for your struggles with paperwork as well. Let me explain how dealing with paperwork and keeping it from cluttering my home slowly became a reality.
Last year, when I started working on decluttering our basement, I began occasionally finding a few containers and a tub or two of paperwork. This was a huge surprise to me because I had thought that I had gathered all of the paperwork that we had, and contained it in the main level in our house to go through. I had been working on what I thought was the remainder of our paperwork. Finding this extra paperwork was very disheartening, I can tell you. So after taking a minute to grumble to myself about finding this “new” paperwork, I began to gather up what I had found. Then, I took an extra look around the basement to see if I could find any more. When I found every bit of paperwork that I could find in the basement, I asked my son if he could take the larger amount of paperwork that I had gathered up to the main level of our home.
Reflections. Later, I slowly began working on dispersing all of this newly-found paperwork with what I was already working on previously. This is when I started to reflect on how long I had been having my struggles in keeping up with the household paperwork. I realized that it had basically been difficult to keep up with since I had gotten married, earlier in my adult life. (So believe me, I empathize with anyone that has the same struggles with paperwork and piles of papers within their home!) Realizing this was actually a huge first step for me because it led me to think about the time in my life that I was able to manage my incoming and archived paperwork well. You see, back when I had been a single person, I was able to keep my paperwork in good order. (I had almost forgotten about this wonderful time in my life when I was able to do this!) I started thinking about this time-frame and asked myself questions on what was so different back then? How was my paperwork organized so differently? What was my process in dealing with my incoming paperwork as well as the paperwork that I already had? This reflection and self-questioning of my earlier paper-processing and management success is what led me to eventually discover a way to organize, keep track and process all of my current paperwork.
So how was it that I used to maintain my paperwork? Well, years ago, I had a large, accordion-style briefcase with a handle on the top of it. It was convenient to use because I could carry it wherever I wanted to work on it. I had set up the tabs so that it could hold all of my paperwork – with the exception of my college papers which I contained in binders. Anyhow, this accordion briefcase was so big, that I had left-over tabs to spare. Back then, I foolishly dismissed how easily it was to put together. (Believe me, knowing now how difficult paperwork can be and the avalanche of papers that can grow out of that, I will never overlook being able to maintain paperwork at any time ever again!) In thinking on this style and method of storing my paperwork, I needed to really reflect and analyze why this had worked for me.
The Accordion-Style Briefcase. First, as I mentioned, it was a large, accordion-style briefcase. It had a huge amount of file tabs enclosed in it. If I needed to dig into a specific tab to search for some particular papers, I could pull the accordion tabs apart pretty far because they stretched fairly well and could actually house a lot of papers within each tabbed file. (Though I had to be careful when stretching these folders because they were made of a thinner paper, were attached to one another and could tear apart, if I was not careful.) Second, as I previously noted, this briefcase had room-to-grow, having a number of extra tab folders that were unused. So as I had a need for other categories of paperwork, I could quickly label the next tab and simply toss them into that new folder. It had been so easy! Whenever I had any new papers that came in, I would just add them to the back of the papers that were already in that particular tab’s file. Additionally, since it had a handle, I could use it wherever I needed to. I remember taking it with me in different areas of my home; at the table, in front of the TV and so on. I really had liked this specific convenience because it enabled me the flexibility to work on filing at times that I would not have been able to with other paper storage solutions.
After thinking about all of this, I realized that if I could find or make a storage method that utilized all of the advantages of my old system that had worked, that I could actually get my paperwork into an orderly fashion. It had worked for me before, so logically thinking, it would now. This had been the first time since I had been married that the thought of having a successful paper system was within reach! So after reflecting and thinking on these positive aspects, I began to research and look at current methods and storage products that were available now.
A New Storage System. It was during this research that I found a storage system that reminded me of my previously used, old system. Now I had heard the term “Sunday Basket” once or twice before, but never really knew what it was until I began researching about it this system. It’s a filing system that was originally created and coined by Lisa Woodruff of Organize 365. In case you have not heard of the “Sunday Basket”, it is basically a container of your choosing that you can use to place your daily mail into. At the end of the week, on Sunday, (or whatever day you actually want as long as it is consistently used that day each week) you would address all of the mail by opening and reading it, paying bills, and so on. As Dawn, The Minimal Mom noted, the “Sunday Basket” can have just mail or it can have some of the supplies that you would use while working on your mail. Overall, the beauty of this system is the reliability in capturing the weekly paperwork, paired along with a consistent routine of going through it regularly. It sounds like it is so simple – because after the initial set-up, it truly is! After learning about the “Sunday Basket”, it really inspired me. I realized that this system had all of the advantages of my previous system, but could be put together and used now! I am so excited about this – both for me and for you!!!
Have you ever tried to use the Sunday Basket system before? What other paperwork, organizing systems have you tried? What worked and did not work about these other systems for you?
• Please feel free to tell us in the Comments’ section below. • Take care, Kyra