Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

August 28, 2007

Coming home…


after almost two weeks away (with one day here in between) always tends to be super good (see above) and


well, kinda messy.

It's that we have been too busy to deal with the piles sort of mess and now the time has come to rectify the situation once again. 

We live in a small house. We love small houses that are cozy and allow us to live life beyond taking care of our home in our time off (we also love not being strapped financially by our home – been there, done that). The tough thing with living small is figuring out ways to deal with all the stuff that still seems to come through our doors. Boxes, papers, magazines, catalogs (hence my daily something idea – looking forward to getting back in touch with that this week) – always something. And I need to get back to giving everything a home – a designated spot – which is not on the dining room table.

One of the solutions (that I need to put into practice) is the one-touch rule. Not sure where that came from originally but I remember reading it and thinking, duh, that is the answer to the piles. The goal is that all the stuff is only touched once – pick it up, do what needs to be done, and then recycle or file – not move from pile to pile to pile. I am such a pile-maker by nature.

A continual work-in-progress for sure (for me and for Chris – yes, this means you too dear).

Any fantastic how to deal with paper tips out there?

Also, I picked up the latest Real Simple Family issue and found lots of great tips inside. They also have a nice online list of articles as well (oh cool – I see some on there about organizing too) including a bunch of downloadable forms (more paper LOL).


  • 1.
    DMatthews said…

    Here’s what I do with paper stuff, daily mail, daily school stuff…
    I have file folders labeled:
    *Bills to pay
    *Things to shred
    *Brandon’s school
    *Zach’s school
    When I come home from work and go through the “pile” of mail and school papers on the counter, I also use the one-touch rule.
    If it’s a bill, I pull out all the crap, recycle the envelopes and put the bill in the “bill basket”. If it’s a school paper, I talk to my kids about it, then ask, “Is this something we need to save?” IF the answer is “yes”, it goes in the school folder (it may be a long-term project not due for two weeks) If the answer is “no” and it’s not an origianl picasso that I feel the need to keep, it gets recycled immediately.
    Although it’s not my favorite thing to do as soon as I get home every day, it sure makes my kitchen counter look clean!

  • 2.
    Jodi said…

    I’m famous for moving things from pile to pile . . . and know it is something that needs to change. It drives my husband batty!
    Welcome Home!

  • 3.
    Lynne said…

    There’s a great book called “Taming the Office Tiger” that is as applicable to home as it is to office paper management. Good read. I think you can get it on Amazon. Been following a modified version of the concept in there for years — works well for me, a self-confessed piler, too!
    The biggest thing, I think is to throw stuff away that isn’t useful or necessary. I have started to go through the mail while standing over the kitchen garbage can. Pretty much anything that doesn’t require attention gets tossed. I’m one of those people that keeps thinking, “Well, some day I’ll use this.” and I never do — so I’ve become much more ruthless in my sorting process.
    The other stuff all has it’s own place (like you, I live in a small house, so space is at a premium!). Bills and other things that are time sensitive get clipped in my planner/calendar on the appropriate page so that they get paid/delt with on time. Catalogs all get put in an old flea market gym locker basket that’s next to my bed (for when I have time to look through them). Receipts all get put into an envelope for that month, until I have time to enter them into QuickBooksPro (my nemesis) — the envelopes are stored in an old tool caddy that I have on the shelf by my desk in my office. I follow your idea of having a big manilla envelope for each month to hold those pieces of ephemeria until I’m ready to use them in my scrapbooking. And I have an expandable file folder that I’m now keeping bits and pieces of stuff that I may use in my daily something pages.
    I feel your pain — but as they say, one step at a time… good luck!

  • 4.
    Carrie D. said…

    What is it with dining room tables and, for us at least, kitchen islands that just attract papers and junk? We’re in the same boat as you. It is so hard with kids; they get attached to the littlest trinket sometimes and I hate to throw anything out. I’m able to somewhat keep an accordian folder labeled for coupons, receipts, take-out menus, etc, but school papers, statements always end up in piles. Can’t wait to see what others recommend!

  • 5.
    Michele said…

    Have you seen the new magazine called “Organize”. The first issue came out in July. I just picked up the Septemer/October issue at Barnes and Noble this afternoon. It’s very good. It has a “Real Simple” feel to it. I also love the “Real Simple Family” issue–lots of good info.
    The piles of paper are an ongoing process. I also have a hanging file foler system. My catergories are for things like recipes, home decor, games/sports info, coupons/flyers, kid ideas, organizing ideas, etc. I go through this file every couple of months and throw away what I don’t need. I also have a school binder for all of my sons school work. We plan his monthly lunch menu and school calendar on the fridge. I immediately go through his papers when he comes home from school and sign what I need to right away. Everything goes back in his backpack as soon as we are done with homework. I also have a small cubby where I place his tests, school work, art projects, etc. I go through this once a month. And then again at the end of the year–only keeping a few things plus his favorite artwork. HTH

  • 6.
    Patty said…

    The best thing to do is have a home for everything that comes in. When papers/mail come in I stand at the recycle bin and throw out as i open – anything with our name on it goes to the shredder immediately – and bills go in a bills to pay folder.

  • 7.
    Kim said…

    Oh my gosh! it’s so nice to see I’m not the only one whose dining room table looks like that. I have my scrapbooking stuff on my table but also the laptop is there and all the mail and to-do lists and catalogs always seem to end up there too. I think it’s become like a little office to me. Our den has had mold issues so as soon as they are fixed I will be very happy to move all of it back in to the den so I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s suggestions on conquering the clutter.
    thanks for always showing us your just like the rest of us Ali!

  • 8.
    Michelle B said…

    Welcome back! I have missed reading your frequent blog posts! I am up to my neck in toys! Two little boys (3 & 1) and tons and tons of toys. How do you organize Simon’s toys? How do you deal with too many toys?

  • 9.
    katie said…

    welcome home! your post made me smile–I am such a pile maker it’s getting bad! LOL! I don’t do the file and recycle thing well–no where to file them!
    enjoy your time home! :)

  • 10.
    Teri said…

    I’m also a famous piler…dining table, desk, top of microwave. I did finally find a solution though.,25451,1625411,00.html
    I have very general folders inside:
    Gotta Pay It
    Action Required
    File it-long term
    Tax Stuff
    Medical and Vital Info
    Menus and Coupons
    There are also a few specific categories for my business and my husband’s work and interests. Total of 15 files.
    I keep it in the kitchen as it is the hub of our house. As soon as I get the mail, I sort it into one of these files. I go through it the first Saturday of each month, purging and filing in our cabinet as required. It generally takes less than an hour. It’s very portable. If I know I’ve got to go somewhere and wait for a while, I take it along…recently my husband had outpatient surgery and I went through the files and followed up on all my Action Items and articles to read while in the waiting room.
    I NEVER take a folder out…I always take the whole tote…it’s too easy for me to misplace a file.
    Good luck!

  • 11.
    Leigh said…

    I have an action file system. I have a set of hanging files that sits on the counter. They are labelled:
    Read (for stuff that needs to be read, but I don’t have time for right at that minute (newsletters, etc.)
    Write (things that need a reply)
    Pay (bills)
    File (to be filed in our larger filing cabinets)
    6 files with two months of the year (Jan/Feb, Mar/April, etc.)for school newsletters, or stuff we’ll need for that month (concert tickets, etc.)
    Things that come in to the house get filed accordingly or tossed in the recycling. It clears up my counter and really helps to find stuff.

  • 12.
    shelley said…

    Aby Garvey’s command Central Binder is a staple in my household. I have created one for myself and my best friend’s is int he works. It is a life saver. hope this helps!

  • 13.
    Julie said…

    I use the OHIO rule….Only Handle It Once.
    People think I must have family in Ohio or something because I have a OHIO sticker on my computer screen!

  • 14.
    Sarah said…

    I like the one-touch rule too. A couple of others are;
    the measles rule – everytime you pick up a piece of paperwork and don’t deal with it, put a red dot in the top corner – makes you see when it looks like it’s got measles, how often you handle it without just sorting it out.
    the two-minute rule – if a job is going to take less than two minutes, just do it!! for example – instead of dropping your coat on a chair when you come in, hang it up because it will take less than 2 minutes. These are all the little jobs which take no time to do but just irritate us later because we’ve allowed them to build up and the resulting mess takes ages to sort out.

  • 15.
    gabbe said…

    I have to deal with the mail immediately or I end up with stacks- I am paranoid about throwing out junk mail without shredding (we’ve had our identity stolen in the last year- no fun) so I shred or recycle as soon as I open.
    I have switched to 95% online banking and ebills and it has really simplified life.
    We do still get some statements in the mail, but mostly I’ve requested no paper delivery. Not as much in my box, good for the trees, and all the bills are paid on time.
    I love the accordion file folder idea for when my daughter starts school (she’s almost 3)!
    Can’t wait to see the other suggestions!
    best of luck & you’re certainly not alone!

  • 16.
    Mary said…

    I am such a pile-maker by nature..
    um, me too!
    it gets so bad – I end up putting them in a box, which ends up in the garage.
    I hate the clutter of our everyday life, but it is part of who we are. (I think this will be a layout). I need to get on top of this with school starting again next week.
    Looking forward to the responses you get here.

  • 17.
    Sue said…

    I just bought at Target a little desk organizer with a matching box that sits on the desk … looks nicer than what we had before. The organizer only holds so much so it forces me to deal with the mail the day it enters the house. The matching box is for things we want to shred. Box is a lot smaller than what we had so forces me to deal with it sooner — otherwise if I wait to long it takes forever to shred. I am happy with it so far and my husband as well. We have a small house so finding ways to deal with stuff is a continual thing. I hate clutter. Sometimes I wish we had a bigger place but it would just be more to clean and take care of in general. I would love to find time to scrap with a busy toddler … miss it very much. With taking care of him during the day and working nights I just dont seem to have the time anymore. I also have an accordion file for DS – keep special artwork and papers from each year. Good luck! ANd share your ideas – I am always looking forward to new ones.

  • 18.
    Terry said…

    get off the junk mail lists:
    there is another to get off of pre-approved credit card lists– I think it’s
    1-888-5-OPT OUT
    also whenever your credit card company sends you a privacy statement, usually towards the end are some details on how to get them to stop sending you junkmail too. :)
    other than that, IKEA has some great office storage stuff so that you can put your piles “up” instead of having them all over the coffee table.

  • 19.
    Tess said…

    I use a “household notebook” inspired by this website:
    I have tabs for school paperwork, takeout menus, municipal info, family goals, etc. It’s been working for me for a couple of years now.

  • 20.

    Hi Ali – BIG fan of the RS Family issue. . .I plan to use the menu article to plan my MONTH of menus for September!!! Woo hoo! As for clutter – I recently purchased “It’s All Too Much” by Peter Walsh (the TLC Clean Sweep guy). . .I’m planning to crack it open after I finish “Picking Your Battles” – a guide for raising children to age 11.LOL

  • 21.
    Sam said…

    One-touch rule is great – I probably don’t get as much mail as you do so you might have to use some of the filing methods mentioned above. I immediately open bills and add them to the rubberbanded collection that stays in my purse for each pay period. Everything else gets looked at right away and tossed if there’s no action due on it. With credit card offers, I shred those right away though (I’m a freak about identity theft). Is the dining room table the default repository? It seems to be! When I work from home, my table looks like yours!

  • 22.
    Mo said…

    Here is what I try to do to keep my paper flow at bay. I too live in a small space and want to embrace the touch it only once process. It is a work in progress.
    Once the mail is picked up, it goes on a corner of my desk under a rock until I am able to deal with it. Then when I have the time, I go through it, sitting at my desk, with the shredder, filing cabinet, and checkbook close by.
    For mags/publications, I choose whether they are going to be bathroom reading, living room reading, or on the go reading (air travel, sitting in lines, business trips, etc.) and put them in their respective selected place ASAP.
    For mail, I open it and if it is a bill I write the check out that day, stamp it, slap a return address label on it and file it away until four days prior to the due date.
    For all other mail correspondence and goodies, I read it, file it, or recycle it.
    I try to do this once a week at minimum but from one traveler to another, you understand how it might not happen.
    Thanks for the recommendation of Real Simple. I’m always looking for ways to improve my organizing.

  • 23.
    Leah R said…

    Here’s some info on the No Impact Man blog on stopping junk mail:
    And here’s another great post about stopping garbage in general:
    Welcome home and good luck with the papers!

  • 24.
    Robin said…

    Especially with kids as young as Simon (Kindergarten, 1st grade) you aeem to get a lot of art work and papers that you may not want to give up. Each of my kids has a plastic file box in which we put their papers. They can go through it at the end of each semester to see what they’ve done, and weed out what we don’t need to keep.
    I also have a “household” notebook (inspired by Flylady)…where there is information about the house, where important things are kept, and a folder for each child with their schedules, homework information, newsletters. This way my husband and I can both find information if the other is unavailable.

  • 25.
    Christie said…

    I’ve been trying Flylady for the past month and have been able to keep up for the most part…at least my kitchen sink is shined at night and my bed made in the morning. It’s amazing what that does for my day! On tommorrow’s list is my dining room/scrapbook area!

  • 26.
    Deena said…

    Try reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. I printed out the pdf. and it really helps me to sort, trash, and file.

  • 27.
    Beverly said…

    My family and I can appreciate the “pile” mentality. We are all struck by its crippling ways.
    I have finally begun to address this deficit at work as I deal with lots and lots of paper. Mostly I have a problem that if it is not in full sight or in a pile that it just doesn’t exist. I have turned over a new leaf in my office, organized desk drawers with purpose, even my small tea mug collection, teas, turbinado sugar, etc. all have their place in a drawer.
    We are trying to adopt this attitude at home but I still have a pile of stuff in the unused chair in the dining area of our kitchen…this is my “get to, don’t throw away pile”. I know exactly what is in that pile – my visual memory assures me of that. I know that’s where I go to find the senior photo proofs to order by 9/28 (and this niggles in my brain from time to time)…I recently read an article about using a 3 ring binder with those clear slide in pages for things that we may need to get our hands on right away – for instance, copy of sports physical, animal vaccination records, etc. I have my most used recipes like this and have created these kinds of notebooks for family members.
    Here’s to a clutter free life!

  • 28.
    suetreiber said…

    i need to do this too. I am a pile maker.

  • 29.
    Leigh-Ann said…

    tip? hmmmm… burn it? lol—

  • 30.
    Heather said…

    I used to be a pile maker just like you (still am sometimes, I must confess). And then I got some of those paper drawers and put them in the kitchen niche that houses our phone, calendar, etc. When I come home with mail, kids’ school stuff, etc, I go straight there and sort it into the appropriate drawer:
    1. bill to be paid, 1st
    2. bill to be paid, 15th
    3. to be filed
    4. to be shred
    5. to do (RSVP to party, something the kids need for school, etc).
    Every night before bed, I look at the to do drawer.
    Once a week I go through the to be filed and to be shred drawers (or when they get full if I get too busy for once a week).
    The bill drawers obviously get tackled on pay day.
    The only other thing I did was to get some big portfolios for the kids art projects they bring home. Those I keep in the front hall closet next to backpacks, purses, diaper bags, etc. So when I come home, I go to two places and that’s it. The other bonus is that the drawers keep the paperwork hidden and out of sight. I even found some really cute ones at the container store that match my kitchen decor. And the art portfolios are out of sight in the closet so again, no visible clutter which makes me a happy, happy person. :)

  • 31.
    susan opel said…

    Ah, yes. The one touch rule! I am a big fan of that one. I live small as well and try to keep on top of things. But then again, I don’t have a busy senator and son to care for as well!
    Glad to hear that you are at home with the boys!
    PS – Watched one of the CK DVDs last night featuring you! You are fab.

  • 32.
    Angela said…

    I have a large Russell and Hazel 3 ring binder (decorated of course, I find that if something is pleasing to the eye I will use it more!) that I store most of our household paper work in. All the stuff that you look at somewhat frequently. I have it tabbed accordingly, but it can easily be modified for your family. I store it with my cookbooks on top of my refrigerator, so it’s not taking up precious counter space.
    Sections include: 1. CONTACT INFORMATION where I have addresses, business cards, phone numbers, etc. 2. CARRY OUT MENUS AND COUPONS TO RESTAURANTS 3. CALENDARS for community events, festivals, and schedules, 4. EMERGENCY INFORMATION AND PHONE NUMBERS (I choose to keep this seperate from my contact info so I can find it fast if needed.) 5. INSURANCE INFORMATION 6. INVITATIONS (I write down the date on our family calendar which is located on the front of the fridge, but I keep this for the details). 6. PET SITTING/PET CARE/ BABY-SITTING INSTRUCTIONS 7. SCHOOL INFORMATION (include lunch menu, yearly calendar, etc.)
    8. TIPS AND TRICKS (for those pages that you pull out of magazines that give you tips for cleaning, gardening, etc.)
    I use clear hole punched paper protectors for just about everything. You can get a box at Office Max or Office Depot at a reasonable price.
    I keep a seperate binder for recipes to try and another binder for family favorite recipes. I too have a little cottage and I love it. I think having a smaller house keeps me from having too much STUFF. I suggest reading “It’s All Too Much” by Peter Walsh. He is the host of Clean Sweep and has some great thoughts on cleaning out and keeping life simple yet fufilling. Enjoy the process….Blessings to you…

  • 33.
    noell said…

    I am so with you on the small, cozy house thing. We have made this choice as well, and it’s so nice to have extra money for trips and date nights and electronic gadgets.
    I also share your problem with having too much stuff. I’ve heard you say before that you like to have a place for everything. I”m still trying to figure that one out. There are some things that I just can’t find a place for; nothing seems to work. And yes, I always have four piles in different places that I need to sort at any given time. But there is so much else to do that is much more enticing!

  • 34.
    Patty Neuss said…

    Hi Ali,
    I am so inspired by this topic today, I am printing out all of the responses. Sometimes I think it’s only me that gets so overwelmed. Like you, I live in a small little 700sq house (raised both of my boys there), after my husband died I needed to downsize. Now they are both lovely young men out on there what is my excuse for the backroom so out of control??? I have no idea but every once in awhile I hear some noise coming from there, and I know my piles are tumbling down..yikes.
    Thanks for letting us know that there is hope after all.

  • 35.
    Muri said…

    Hi Ali! A very good friend of mine was in Nashville and brought back an autograph for me. I wanted to say thank. My family is lol because it is hanging on the frig. Thanks for being such an inspiring person and for sharing your life and talent with us.

  • 36.
    tbgann said…

    I found that I was pretty good at sorting bills, catalogs etc but was really miserable at dealing with stuff for the house – appliance manuals, receipts, etc. So, I have created two 3-ring binders, both of which have dividers that designate a space for each room in the house. In the first binder I store all the registrations, warranties and manuals (if they’re too fat to be 3-hole punched I’ll tear them down the spine and punch them then). If it’s for a kitchen appliance, it’s filed under the kitchen tab; if it’s for a bedroom clock radio, it’s under the bedroom tab – you get the picture. The second binder has receipts and design stuff for each room. I keep the paint code/name/store, measurements for blinds, curtain sizes, receipts for furniture, lighting, etc behind each room’s tab. There’s also a tab for general house stuff like the alarm monitoring contract with Brinks or the sizes of all of the furnace filters in the house.
    This helps three ways – first it gives a home for everything that pertains to your house. Second, when something stops working you know exactly where to go to find the manual or warranty without sorting through piles of them since what you’re looking for will be in that room’s section. Third, it’s a great tool to have when you sell your house as the new homeowner can see all the design information and you can justify the price you’re selling for as all of your upgrades are there (especially when the buyer wants to buy your curtains/furniture/appliances too!)

  • 37.
    AnnB said…

    What about all the magazines? I can’t touch them only once, but I can’t keep on keeping all of them… ugh.

  • 38.
    Heather said…

    Thanks for sharing the links to these downloadable forms!! They are really going to help me and I was able to save some of them to my computer for the future use!! What a great website!

  • 39.
    Andrea said…

    Hi Ali- Here is my two cents. :)
    Bills – do them online and cancel paper bills that come in the mail. At first I was scared to do this because I thought I would forget about bills that were due if I didn’t have the bill staring me in the face cluttering up my kitchen, bedroom, living room, or where ever I ended up placing it to remember to pay. (Which sometimes would get lost.) BUT you must release the fear and move on from paper. Lol. The way I got over being worried about forgetting was starting a folder in my Internet Favorites called “Money & Bills”. Under that folder I have a link to my checking account, credit cards, insurance, car payment, cable, phone, etc. After the title of the link I put the due date and total amount due. Ex: Bank of America Card 9.22 $457 Whenever I need to look at upcoming bills, I just click on the “Money and Bills” folder and look at all the due dates. As soon as I pay the bill, I rename the link. Ex: Bank of America Card 10.22 $403 I have a Word document saved with all my usernames and password hints for each account. So when I am ready to pay bills, I open up my Word document and click on each link in my Money and Bills folder and am done! I also sign up for Email reminders for when my bill is due. This system works great! Hope this helps someone have less paper to deal with. :)

  • 40.
    jenn said…

    I hear ya Ali!!!! We live in a smaller home too and that is my biggest battle. Stuff just flows in with no space to keep it all its always sorting, sorting, sorting…

  • 41.
    Suzanne said…

    Read: Getting Things Done by David Allen. What he says seems pretty logical, but he gives great tips on taking action and doing the things you already know you SHOULD do, but just don’t.

  • 42.
    Jennifer Hermus said…

    Hey Ali! I just got back to NYC after visiting Oregon for the first time and I must say it is one of the most visually inspiring places I have been. I am in love. Best to you!

  • 43.
    Christina Katz said…

    It is always so crazy to me how you touch on just what is going on for me. I was purging my office today because I JUST COULDN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. But I couldn’t do it by myself. The sheer volume of clutter was too overwhelming. So I asked my husband to come and just sit on the couch in my office while I chattered on and purged. Sometimes just having someone there to answer the question: Do I really need this phone book from where we used to live three years ago? is all I need. I can breathe again! Thanks for being in the same boat. Sure makes me feel better.
    BTW, I’m hosting (or hostessing?) a writer mama back to school daily giveaway in September at my blog. If anyone is interested, they can read all about it at my blog, which is listed as my address. :)

  • 44.
    Jools said…

    Hi Ali
    That could be our dining table!
    I seriously think you either are the organising type or you just aren’t. However many systems you set up you are bound to slip back into chaos – sorry! I have set up countless systems round here but everyone but me ignores them and starts their own system contrary to everyone elses.
    We live in a quite large house and it is worse – just more places for piles of stuff.
    I don’t think having 3 sons helps much either!

  • 45.
    Mandy Steward said…

    I second the book Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen. I don’t follow it to the letter of the law by any means, but I did implement some things into my routine thanks to him. You’re a list maker too I think, so you’d like what he has to say.

  • 46.
    Paul-ene said…

    Girl…..iwanna come over there and clean that table off for you. hee hee
    My pet peeve is messy table filled with papers. (too each his own I guess). I have a bit of obsessive compulsive deal going on so that helps me organize. I agree with someone here that said your either an organizer or your not.
    With that said: We don’t have much bills coming thru the mail anymore either. Online is the way to go with statements and such.
    I am totally diggin the links to that stop junk mail tho. I have to check into that. That’s about all we get now in the mail.
    I get alot of magazines for about everything like Jcpenny to OTC to store advertisements. I look thru them and recycle right away. Everything is so ONLINE now.
    I usually keep my mail pile under my phone (it’s a small cabinet that holds my phone) once it gets full/ I go thru it and give what is important papers to my DH(LOL) to put away and the rest I recycle or chuck(shred important papers). The key is to not let it pile up so far that it’s a scary impossible pile to dig thru. My Dh will than file our papers into our file cabinet.
    Nothing to different than most people above suggested. Dang girl tho that table is still buggin me. Hee!

  • 47.
    jenwcom said…

    oh, i totally have the real simple family mag sitting right next to my computer right now. it’s FULL of stuff. can’t wait to read every inch.
    i’m so not an organizer. i’m definitely a piler. my kitchen table has one empty spot for my mountain dew at the moment. when it’s time for dinner we just stack so we’ll have a spot for our plates. yeah, bad, i know. but i just enjoy being at the kitchen table with all the activity going on around me than being in my office by myself.
    thanks for sharing the ins and outs of your day.

  • 48.
    Séverine Ch. said…

    Hi Ali,
    apparently, we all have the sae problem. I think that for most of the things, the best destination is the basket !!!!(particularly for ads!).
    Ilove your first books and I’m impatient to have the third available in France.
    I enjoy reading your blog too.

  • 49.
    Katie C. said…

    Ali – Welcome back!
    As to the paper messes – I’ve tried instituted the one-touch rule and it’s working pretty well so far!
    So, here’s what we’ve done in our house. We’ve designated an area (a small desk in our kitchen) that is close to #1) where we pay bills #2) a trash can #3) a shredder #) recycling bags/bins. Whoever brings the mail in deals with it – junk mail w/ names gets shredded, other goes in the trash. Catalogues I don’t want immediately get recycled, personal mail goes in the “action pile” and bills go in the “bill” pile. Then, once a week we go through the bill pile and pay them, and the action pile to respond to personal offers. The other thing that helps w/ less paper is to have a computer near. If something comes through the mail that has a URL – I’ll go and bookmark it for future reference and throw the mailer away (or shred).
    Hope that’s helpful!

  • 50.
    Nina said…

    GTD – Getting Things Done by David Allen.
    The organizational system with a serious cult following that saved my home from being destroyed by paper rebels. :)

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