January 27, 2010

A Simpler Life In 2010 . . .

This is the post that will leave you thinking one of two things.  Either, "Wow! She's super organized!" or "Wow! She's an anal retentive, type A, control freak!" And so, here we go.

I've received some emails and comments about the difficulty of controlling paper clutter in the home.  I believe it is the NUMBER ONE clutter problem in most homes. Paper tends to pile up on every available horizontal surface until it almost seems hopeless to even try to go through it. But it is possible to get it under control and you've got to start somewhere, so I've got a suggestion today for your family's contact information and school documents. 

It's no secret I love binders.  And sleeve protectors.  And dividers. And tabs.  Gosh, I pretty much have a little crush on anything from an office supply store.  I could do an entire post on just that topic because I am a total geek. But binders really are an organized person's true friend.  They hold paper.  Betcha didn't know that. 

I've got a whole shelf full of binders in my kitchen, all keeping me sane and somewhat organized.  Today I want to introduce you to three of them.  First is our family phone book.  It corrals the following: {images blurred to protect the innocent}

A printed copy of our computerized address list, mailing lables and stamps so I can address envelopes all in one fell swoop.

A contact sheet for the Hubby's family and my family that includes birthdays, emails, phone numbers and addresses.

Our church congregation phone list, which is used on a daily basis.

And in plastic pocket dividers, the following: 
Local business information and cards.

Emergency contact information for our various family doctors.

and take out menus for our favorite local restaurants.

We use our family phonebook binder EVERY SINGLE DAY! I love knowing exactly where these various rosters, cards, addresses and numbers are located.
The other two binders are for the two schools the kids attend. Big C's Middle School Binder has his schedule on the outer cover so I can reach him if there's ever an emergency.

Inside are divided sections. The first is for the school handbook.

Next is a section for Big C's classes.  I put each teacher's class rules and expectations in sleeve protectors after C and I went over them and highlighted the important things to remember like attendance, homework and grading policies.

The last section of his binder is for calendar information.

The elementary school binder is just a bit different.  I have a divided section for both Hannie B and RedDog's classes with a class roster and other class information.  I have the school handbook and a calendar section.  And in the front divider I have preprinted notes to send to school which I can fill in with any of the following: excuses abscence reasons, early dismissal reasons, appointment information, bus information, lunch information, etc. This way I can just check a box and write a few words instead of having to hand write an entire note.

I add things to the school binders throughout the year only if the information is pertinent and permanent - meaning VERY IMPORTANT.  All other administrative papers that come home from school are read immediately, acted upon, marked on the main family calendar if necessary and then THROWN INTO THE RECYCLING BIN.  {It is helpful to note that both schools have excellent websites that contain much of the information that comes home anyway.}
So my primary rule for paper clutter is to start learning what is essential to keep and what can be tossed.  Then TOSS IT!
At the end of the school year, I gut these binders down to the essentials and ready them for the next year.
Tell me dear readers, what's your relationship with paper like?  Love or hate?  Got any good tips? Please share.
Come back tomorrow for three levels of Chocolate Chip Cookies . . . you won't want to miss it.
dragonfly signature


Kasey Hunt said...

You are amazing!!

Christa said...

Oh I needed this. I am trying to be more paper organized this year. I always am looking for the same tattered papers (class list) with school telephone numbers on them. It dawned on me "duh" to make a binder with these numbers. After reading your post, I think I need to bring in your suggestions. Thanks for sharing your organizational skills. I could use all the help I can get!

Stacey Gerlach Moe said...

You are my hero, Sam. I love organization, too. In fact, I actually helped pay off my undergrad college loans by organizing people's homes. I don't have any kids who are school age yet, but you can bet I am going to use a similar process to the one you use. (And I have an obsession with office products too). Funny!!!

We are FAM-I-LEE said...

LOVE IT! & definitely plan on using some of your binder ideas! Thank you!

The Queen Vee said...

You know my organizational efforts, I can hear you laughing all the way to my house. The organizational gene skipped me entirely but I have a great appreciation for yours, Kirks, Lauras, Annes, Matts and Melissas....hard to believe we're related.

I'm wondering, should I be using an apostrophe after those names above?

Apis Melliflora said...

When all 3 of mine are in school, not only do I need a better paper organizing system, but a desk of my own too.

And I'm going to borrow from your wealth of good ideas. Yes I am.

How do you keep your counters clean? That's what I want to know.

Christy said...

I love this post! And I need it. I love the binder idea.I am totally going to use it to help corral our crazies. I have one child who loves to toss everything (like me) and one who must hold on to every paper scrap she ever creates. Ugh! I have binders for each of my kids to keep their special things in and it helps us a lot! I'm glad there are crazy anal people like you out there to share your organizational secrets with us. Keep 'em coming.

Tobi said...

WHOA! You are organized. However my favorite part was when you said you had a crush on anything from an office supply store. That was funny!

My children's schools send home a big fold out calendar every school year. It has phone numbers, early out days, school holidays, parent teacher conferences and potential weather make up days. It even has a key on the side to help you decipher all this great information. I would be lost without this calendar. I use magnets to keep it on the front of my fridge. All other papers are from the school are read and then quickly tossed into the recycle box.

Alison Wilde said...

Hi Sam!! I FOUND you! Now I know why it has taken me so long to find you----no binders! I have no more fear after reading your last post, but a lot more new year's goals in my "get more organized" folder. Now, can you guys just please move to Shanghai for a personal organization assistant?? Hugs to your cute family!

west wind said...

we like to say "type A personality in blue jeans."

3 Ring Binders said...

What happens if someone plays a joke and rearranges the whole binder? Would that cause you to go crazy?

Jessie said...

Wow. That's all I can say. I wish I had your mad organizational skillz!

Maybe someday when your kids are grown up you should be a professional organizer. You would be perfect and could share your gift....