Clearing the “counter pile” with a tickler file

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by April Perry

April Perry is married to her soul-mate, Eric, and is the mother of Alia, Grace, Ethan, and Spencer. She co-directs The Power of Moms, blogs at The Power of a Family, and satisfies her insatiable love for organization through her GTD®-based Mind Organization for Moms program.

Just about every mom I know has something on the kitchen counter called “the pile.”

You’ve surely seen one.  It’s generally stocked full of receipts, original art work, birthday party invitations, advertisements, coupons, and the like, and if you’re one of the lucky moms sporting a counter pile, you’ve certainly plowed through it on numerous occasions–looking for that community holiday flier or the reminder card from the dentist office.

Ring a bell?

Today I’m going to show you a trick that virtually eliminates the time-sensitive items from your counter pile.  It’s called a Tickler File, and you can have yours set up in minutes.  Quite honestly, it will change your paper-sorting life.

How to Set Up Your Tickler File:

Get 12 file folders and label them by month.

Put your Tickler in an easy-to-access location.

A small file box, a little stacking tray, or the very front of your filing cabinet are great spots for your Tickler.  It doesn’t need to be out in plain sight–you just don’t want to forget where you put it.

Reference paperwork with a “Tickler Symbol” on your calendar.

Whenever you receive a piece of paper that needs to be accessed or used during a specific month (examples below), reference the accompanying action or event on your calendar and add a little T with a circle around it–indicating that the paper you’ll need on that date is in your Tickler. If you use a digital calendar, you could use parentheses:(T).

Then simply place those time-sensitive papers in the appropriate month’s folder.

Sound easy?  It is.  Now let’s practice:

1. Smog Check Form

It’s October 10th, and your husband hands you a form from the Department of Motor Vehicles, indicating that your registration this year requires a smog check.  The smog check can be done during October or November, but the registration is due on December 12th.

What on earth do you do?

Normally, we’d just stick something like that in “the pile” and hope we remember to get that smog check done in time.  And then in January, when we get pulled over by a police officer who’s wondering why our car hasn’t been registered, we plead, “I’m sorry, but have you seen my kitchen counter? I’ll get it done today . . . I promise!”

(We’re not going to do that anymore.)

Instead, we’ll write the registration deadline on our calendar (so we’ll see it coming), and we’ll add “Get a smog check” to the “Errands” section of our context-based list.

We could even add a calendar trigger sometime in November that asks, “Did you get your smog check yet?”  (Just in case . . . because we all know how motherhood can throw us into a whirlwind sometimes.)

Next to each of those reminders, we add our cute circled “T” (and since this particular sheet of paper might be in three different folders, we note the month beside it–as you can see in the photo above).

When the day comes to take the car in to get checked, we calmly walk to our October Tickler, take out the smog check form that needs to be signed, and happily cross that task off our list.

Lovely, isn’t it?

Here’s another example:

2. Wedding Invitation

Your dear friend from college is getting married on June 22nd, and she sends you a beautiful invitation, complete with a map to the wedding and reception. You need a safe place to keep this invitation, so you don’t end up texting the bride for directions to her wedding the morning of.

You simply note the wedding on your June calendar and put your “T” symbol right next to it, indicating that any related paperwork can be found within the folder for the month of the wedding.

Are you starting to get excited?

Let’s do one more . . .

3. Concert Tickets

You and your best friends from high school are going to a concert in the city on August 3rd, and everyone buys their tickets when they go on sale in late May.  You’ve got more than two months before the event, and you don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute, so you print your tickets online and put them in your August Tickler, noting the concert and your Tickler symbol on your calendar.

Get Rid of the Paper Pile Forever

This Tickler idea is so simple, but I never thought of it until I read David Allen’s best-seller, Getting Things Done.  He recommends a Tickler consisting of 43 files, 12 for the months, 31 for the days (that cycles and is checked daily), but as a mom who is spinning in several different directions each morning (brushing hair, tying shoes, cleaning up breakfast . . .), I like to simplify the number of things I need to check before I start my day.

Twelve files kept in a safe place and one calendar I check daily has taken loads of stress off my plate.  Now, when my daughter comes to me in June and hands me a form for the school orchestra that doesn’t need to be turned in until September, I don’t even break a sweat.

Our family now has a place for the book order form that’s due in two weeks.  We can always find the addresses to birthday parties, and I can easily group papers that need to accompany me on a plane trip.

When we consistently use our Tickler files, we won’t cringe every time we look at that pile on our kitchen counter. In fact, by implementing a few simple organization techniques, we can get to the point where “the pile” won’t even exist.

Note from April: The Tickler File is part of a GTD®-based program called Mind Organization for Moms, and I would love to give away 100 free programs (valued at $40 each) as a gift to the Simple Mom Community. To receive your free program, please click here.

Do you have any counter-clearing tips or paper-processing ideas you’d like to share? Do you notice an improvement in how you feel around your family when your papers are under control?

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Comments

  1. This is pretty much genius! I even have two piles…one downstairs on the kitchen counter, and one upstairs on the printer. I think I’m going to consolidate both into a tickler file!

  2. In case anyone is interested in the 100 Mind Organization for Moms giveaway, the link is here: http://powerofmoms.com/welcome-simple-mom-readers/

    (It wasn’t working when the post first published . . .)

    Thanks!

  3. This system seemed confusing at first, but I do like how it gives you an automatic location for papers. I think that’s why I have a paper clutter problem — because I don’t have a home for them. Do you think its necessary to indicate things with the circled “T” on your calendar, if you already know that the monthly items are sorted according to month and in their appropriate folders? Also, why do you call it Tickler? Thanks for the tips!

    • Thanks for your comment, Archer! I do typically add the (T) to any item on my calendar or task list that has associated materials in the Tickler–just to make sure I don’t forget. Some items (like concert tickets) are no-brainers, but occasionally I’ll need to take papers to a doctor appointment or a visit to a friend’s home, and I like to remind myself to check the Tickler before I go.

      And the reason I call it a Tickler is because that’s what David Allen calls it in “Getting Things Done.” And because I think it’s fun to say. (I’m sure there are some other very good reasons, though :))

      • Thanks for your response, April. That makes sense – I forget things all the time! And thanks for the explanation of the Tickler system – I’m not really a GTD guru, so I’m not up to date on all the lingo associated with it.

  4. avatar
    Christina says:

    I love it! I just cleared my “pile” tonight. It was a big one! Thanks for this.

  5. I throw away mail on my way into the house. If it isn’t important, into the recycle bin it goes. This has helped clear the clutter some, but I want to do the tickler files to get it all organized. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for this great idea. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with all the paper clutter that sits on our counter and my desk. Now I need to get some folders so I can start doing this.
    Also thank you so much for the free program! I can’t wait to look through it all and start using it. I am in need of more organization.

  7. Wow. This is excellent. Thank you. And I’m actually very impressed with what I’ve seen so far with the Mind Organization for Moms info.

  8. avatar
    sandra2580 says:

    Great tips and advice! I will definitely try it out! having a lot of piles at home is really annoying my husband. Hope I could do this being clumsy and unorganized. Thank you for sharing this helpful post!

  9. Yippee for the “tickler” flie! I love this idea! I’m embarrassed to how big my “pile” has become. It’s turned into a BOX!!! :) Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to put it into action!

  10. This is great! We used a Tickler file in my first job out of high school. I loved that thing, but never thought to use it at home.

    Now can you come to my house and clean paper piles off my counter, in my cabinets, and my file cabinet so I can get this project started? It’s going to take a week to get through all the paper in my possession to get to this tickler file. ;0)

    • I would love to come to your house :) Hopefully, though, you took advantage of the Mind Organization for Moms giveaway. That’s almost the same thing.

      Thanks for your comment!

  11. Paper piles are literally my top pet peeve! This is a great solution and so simple! I am going to create a Tickler file soon. Thanks for the inspiration and idea.

  12. This is a great idea! I really hate paper clutter, but it inevitably finds its way into my life every week. I tend to have several piles…now if I can get my husband on board to put his paper clutter away…that would be helpful :-)

  13. avatar
    melissa c says:

    Great idea….and so simple! Thanks for the free program too; can’t wait to take a closer look :)

  14. This post is a glory-to-God answer to prayer for this try-so-hard, surely-there-must-be-a-better-system, disorganized momma. Of to make my file!!!

  15. I have an expandy folder organized by month for my coupons so I can easily toss expired ones or use doubles in the order they expire, but I never thought to do the same for The Pile.

    This could, honestly, change my life.

  16. Oh my goodness–this sounds fantastic! I was using a tickler with great success last winter (after reading GTD) but somewhere along the way I fell off the wagon. I’ve been meaning to re-institute it (in order to clear the clutter on my counter and in my brain) and these little tips (like marking a “T” on the calendar) are brilliant!

    I just signed up for the program. Thanks!

  17. I tried to sign up for the giveaway, signed in but couldn’t figure out how to access the downloads and other stuff :( Hopeing I can figure it out

  18. Thanh you for this tip!!! It’s great and SIMPLE!!!

  19. Thank you so much for this! The piles kill me! My mom said when I was growing up that I was training to be a pilot – pilot here, pilot there. I am sitting here listening to the webinar while I attack the pile of coupons that have been “piled up” (of course!) on my kitchen counter. One down, a few more to go!

    Such simple, totally do-able ideas. Thanks for applying the GTD system to real life moms. Makes more sense now.

  20. This is a brilliant idea. I was interested when I heard about it from GTD, but I didn’t want to go for the whole 43 files. I like the way you’ve simplified it and may actually IMPLEMENT it!

  21. How did you know what my counter looks like? HA HA! Thanks for this! I just went to get the free download but now it won’t recognize my login password. Let me see if I can figure it out.

  22. I am so excited to do this!! Just went to time out this weekend and was trying to figure out how to get started clearing up the mess that resembles my house! (even though I wish it did not). This is exactly what I need to help me through. Thank you so much!

  23. OMG i have a pile and a box when the pile becomes too big :) I am implementing this when i get home. What an awesome idea.

  24. What a great idea. i would somehow probably even mess that up. Then it would be another pile.

  25. I love this!! I am currently doing this with my calendar book, just clipping important papers in the right month, but that gets annoying. I am definitely going to try this!! For some reason, the share bar isn’t showing up fully, so the only thing that shows is the twitter button. Will this be posted to facebook??

  26. This is great for those miscellaneous items I always have!! What do you all do with monthly bills though? Ours sit in the pile until I pay them and then they get filed away in a filing cabinet that is all neat and organized. BUT, until they get paid there they sit and it seems like as soon as I get one batch done then next comes.

    • Good question, Annie! In our full Mind Organization for Moms program, we explain the Project Support Cubby system. I have a set of cubbies on my desk, and one is labeled “Finances.” You can keep bills in there and put a reminder on your calendar (or a recurring reminder into your phone) to pay the bills. You could also use the Tickler for the current month’s bills–it’s up to you.

      I’m excited for you!

    • Hi Annie,

      I use a binder for bills (I think I got it from Flylady). Every Saturday, after the mail comes in, I bring up the basket (on the front desk, which contains all the mail) and sort it into keep/bills/recycling/etc. Then, the bills go into the binder and I pay them on Sunday (sometimes, I can skip a Sunday if nothing is due for over a week). When I sort them in the binder, I put them in rough order of date due.

      I also keep stamps, extra envelopes, a pen, etc. in the binder. I could, theoretically, zip it up and take it with me somewhere to write thank-you notes or something, if I were that sort of organized, thoughtful person, which I am not. ;)

      I love organizing but staying organized is another thing. I read GTD, but never implemented the tickler file. Maybe I will try it.

  27. avatar
    Catherine says:

    April—so fun to see you on Simple Mom! As I read this post, I could see out of the corner of my eye my counter pile…I can’t wait for the baby to nap so I can get to work on my Tickler file! Thanks for the great idea!

  28. I use weekly file folders for my tickler system. Once I year I sit down and create 54 files with their respective week’s days on them i.e. Jan 1-6, Jan 7-13, etc.
    I file the same way you do but at the beginning of the week I pull out that week’s tickler file and keep it with me and my calendar. Then I have all my paperwork for the week right there with me. I put coupons in there that have expiration dates, and everything else. Works GREAT for me. :)

  29. Thanks for this great idea! I detest random piles that crop up around our dining room or in the office. This takes just a little bit of effort to set up.

  30. avatar
    Jennifer Tyner says:

    Could you tell if you use a scanner, and if so what make and model you chose and why?

  31. This is rockin’ idea! I’m on it! Thank you.

  32. Simply, genius! This is a possible life-changer! Thanks!

  33. Oh April, can I kiss you? MWAH!!!! This is absolutely what I needed. I hate that everything is in the pile and when I need to find something, I have to go through the WHOLE pile.

    I’m making my Tickler file right. now. Seriously, so excited about your post. THANK YOU!!! :)

  34. I love it! Almost a year ago I read GTD and it changed my life. In fact, I’m looking forward to doing a bit of a reboot after the New Year. Thanks for the inspiration. (here’s my GTD post from last January :-)http://bit.ly/dR4Ks3

    So happy to be introduced to you!

  35. I have been working on clearing out my paper clutter this past month and it is really nice to know where stuff is! I think adding the monthly folders would be great too. Thanks for the idea.

  36. I love this idea! At the moment my paper pile is in a basket on our kitchen bench – but I have no idea what’s in there or what I need to do with any of it. I’m going to try this instead! Thanks for sharing.

  37. I’m SO doing this!!! I hate my pile of papers! Ha! Thanks for the great idea! :)

  38. I just made my monthly folders and am filling them up! My paper piles drive my super-organized husband up a wall! He’ll be thrilled to see the cleaned up counter when he gets back from his business trip.
    Thank you!

  39. I use the tickler with the 31 day files as well as months at work as that is the best for me in that environment. I RARELY use the one I set up at home but I think it is because the 31 days made it too complicated at home. SO NOW I will just use the months as I love your idea of the T tickler on the calendar too.

  40. I do use a tickler file but its in my filing cabinet. So I forget its there more time than I would like to admit.
    But if you can form the habit of checking it could really be a clutter busting time saver.

    Enjoyed the post and I want some pretty folders, I bet that would help me to go look in that file more often.

    Pam

  41. avatar
    OnTheSlowRoad says:

    I love this idea. It will take care of so many situations that get embarrassing when I lose the form/paper/invitation. Thank you. Liz

  42. Thank you.

  43. This is timely, as I have enough papers that need recycling/filing/paying/turned in to craft an entire living room rug! :)

  44. This is a great tip. I read this post as I was staring at my piles….and I love any excuse to head to the office supply store :)

  45. I employ something like this on my frig:-)

  46. Does anyone have any similarly brilliant tips for organizing the coupons that generally end up in the “pile?” There are some coupons that I like to hang on to (and gift cards, for that matter) that I don’t want to lug to the grocery store with all those coupons every time, but could still use a good home!

    • Janell, I have two zippered pouches, one labeled “retail” and the other “restaurants” and I keep them in my car. Every so often (usually when I’m waiting in the carpool line) I clean them out and throw away the expired ones. This system hasn’t been perfect for me because sometimes I forget they’re in there and I have to throw away a good coupon that I wanted to use, but maybe I can add a note to my calendar/tickler file that reminds me that they’re about to expire. If you have a gift card to a store that you also have a coupon for, paperclip them together. HTH!

  47. Great idea! This is similar to the way I organize at work but ice never considered implementing it at home. Thanks!

  48. I’ll admit, I was skeptical as I began reading this post. I am an “organized mess” type of person. I don’t usually forget things and I can usually locate papers quickly when I need them, but I could certainly stand to be more organized and I’d love to cut out the clutter. As I read example after example of when I could use this system, I did start to get excited. And I’m gonna give it a go! Thanks for sharing your wonderful tip with us!

    • I am so like you . . “organized chaos” or “chaotic organization”. I’m very visual, so if things are put away, they are gone forever. I have a thin strip of metal that I use magnets with (got it at Ikea years ago) that hangs under my calendar. It holds school forms, notices, etc that we will need. It’s easy for the kids, hubby myself to see and reach. it can get a bit full and cluttered sometimes (and we have a new kitty that is obsessed with paper and tearing it up . . So I find him jumping up to snatch the papers. We might need to switch systems!). I may have to try this and see how it goes . . See if my visual brain can adapt. I’ve lost many a paper and item by organizing and putting things away. I eve lost a vital piece to our baby gate for 7 years! It sure was in a “safe place”! :)

  49. My friend has created and published a calendar that essentially does the same thing. It is a spiral bound calendar w/ a pocket for each month. http://www.pocketthedate.com/ Super cute and all together in one place.

  50. Thanks for the tips. I try to handle all the paperwork as soon as it comes in, but inevitably I miss a day or 2, plus there always seems to be a pile of ‘where do i put this stuff’ lying around.

  51. Thanks for sharing this. Great ideas for organization. I always need help in this department!

  52. Rarely does a “mom blog” post hit so directly and in such a timely manner as this one for me. I was recently thinking, “I have no problem getting organized; my problem is STAYING organized!” I really hope this Tickler File idea is the ticket – thx for the post!

  53. This is great– I’ve been wanting a filing system for our “command central” area of the house but not gotten one implemented yet.
    My biggest bugaboo these days is kid art– my preschooler generates it faster than I can process it. I like to photograph it periodically and save some of it in a box for her, but it comes in & accumulates before I can capture it, send it to family, or file it. Do you have any ideas on that? Thanks!

    • Yes, Jen! I’ve had the same issues with “preschool art.” I use a two-basket system called the “Sneaky Sorter.”

      Artwork goes immediately into one of the two baskets. One basket is stuff I will probably throw away. Another basket is stuff I will probably keep. (I don’t tell the children which is which, but I empty them/photograph the contents once a month or so.) That’s just what works for me . . ..

      Good luck!

      • LOVE the idea of photographing the kids artwork. I want to hold onto those memories, but don’t know where in the world to keep it! How fun would it be to get a hard bound book made of each kids artwork each year as a little “scrapbook” of sorts!

        Thanks for the tips!

  54. I just wanted to thank everyone for your nice comments today and for participating in our giveaway at The Power of Moms. You are such a great group!

    We ended the formal giveaway, but we still have a great parting gift for those who would like to learn more about the Mind Organization for Moms program we offer at The Power of Moms.

    Simply click here: http://powerofmoms.com/welcome-simple-mom-readers/

  55. This is brilliant!!! I was so excited about this when I read it that I immediately went to the office and pulled out my files to lable. I found one of those expandable files instead which I think will work just fine! I am desperate to get my kitchen counter clear and it seems that it may have a supernatural clutter magnet that is too strong for me to ever overpower… I hope this helps!

  56. Wow! What a a stunning, simple idea! I loved your friendly ‘help-us-get-the-picture’ approach [smile], because my brain was ‘tickled” to find how it would work for the pile in my homeschooling in-tray.

  57. I love the GTD philosophy, but the 43 folders always seemed overkill. I like how you have broken it down into a system that is more practical for moms. Now to go clear my desk!
    Bernice

  58. I just found this blog, per “Simple Notebook” and am hooked!

    My prior/main method is just to keep the pile very small. For example, if I get stuff that isn’t due for months, I send it all right in anyway. I pay bills when I get them, etc. Daily/weekly we recycle piles of useless paper.

    BUT, I will definitely be implementing this strategy in an attempt to kill the *pile* for good. Funny enough, I just bought some folders. I love them for organization, but could only find a pack of 50. It seemed overkill. The next day I read this blog. Ha! Maybe I will need all these folders after all! I’ve always been awed by the organization power of a few manila folders.

    P.S. We have a tas manager software at work that uses “ticklers.” It’s been years, but to this day I still think that is a WEIRD word.

  59. I LOVE this! Thank you! As a busy mom to 4 my paper pile stresses me out and i always forget about something…i love the symbol on the calendar to remind you where the paperwork is!

  60. Hi April! It is so great to see this on here…I love POMs!

    This is great! I love how you can plan ahead and note on the calendar where to look. I’m adding this to my current system.

    I’d like to add that for my immediate action items I have found a LIGHT eight pocket organizer at Office Depot that works GREAT (http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/678294/Office-Depot-Brand-8-Pocket-Poly/)! The first pocket has my printed calendar (current month and the next month) and the pockets that follow are assigned to my children. The last pocket is for me. That way I have places for everything to go each week right when it goes on the calendar…The month folders will be perfect to file things that are farther out. I go through it each Sunday and know that my immediate action items are on me that week and I have it with me if I have 30 minutes to blow at an appointment and I can sit and fill out a school form, etc. The SAME calendar going with me everywhere is also a huge help for planning!

    Thanks so much for these tips! I’m excited to go make monthly folders!

    • Thanks for sharing that great pocket organizer! I’m excited for you–and very impressed with how well you’re managing things in your home.

      Thanks for the nice comment!

  61. Hmm, I like it. I think I might add 4 week folders for the current month, rather than 31 for the days. Alot of the things I have to deal with are things to be put off for a week or so.

    My pile is the centerpiece on my kitchen table.

  62. what about for the stuff that’s in the piles that doesn’t have a date associated with it (so doesn’t go onto the calendar or into a ‘month’ folder) like the graded papers that come home but need to be gone over with the student or things that need to get scanned in or pictures taken of (preschooler holding his pine-cone turkey art work, but he’s down for a nap and next it’s dinner and bed and….) ??

    How do those things escape “THE PILE”?

    • Thanks for your question. It’s true, the Tickler only works for the date-related stuff.

      The full Mind Organization for Moms program goes into all the details for handling every little bit of paper (so your counters really are empty).

      But here are a couple of quick answers.

      For graded papers, I typically review them on the day I receive them, and then I put them into my “Sneaky Sorter” in the laundry room. (Papers in the top basket will most likely be thrown away, papers in the bottom basket will most likely be kept.) I empty/file those every six months or so. If a paper needs lots of extra attention, I put it into a project support cubby, and then I note on my task list to review it with my child.

      I do leave the cute art projects on the counter until they’re photographed (usually within a day, as well), or I add it to the Sneaky Sorter (top basket) and photograph everything at once before I toss it. We do twenty-minute photography sessions at the end of each school year (I give my kids the camera and let them go to town).

      You’re doing great! Thanks for the questions.

  63. avatar
    Cindy Davis says:

    Paper is my nemesis. Did I spell that right? Your idea combined with my online Cozi calendar and wall calendar may save me. I lose everything. I pay late fees so often. I feel out of control much of the time because of my inability to do what seems to come “naturally” to others. I find myself searching and searching for answers to try to find ways out of my chaos. I am a member of Flylady.net. I am working on that. Up until I read your Tickler idea, when important papers came in, I scotch taped them to my wood cabinets for safe keeping. Invitations. Conference forms. Tickets. It makes my kitchen look messy and is not good for the cabinets. Thank you I am setting this up today.

  64. Loved this – super helpful. I’ve had a tickle file for years but never really got how to put it into action. Read your post and immediately was able to get it up and running, and consequently, my counter cleared!

  65. Totally am going to nominate you for a Nobel Housewife Prize. Wait, what? There isn’t one? Why the heck NOT? THANK YOU!!! I have two piles – one on a desk immediately beneath my big household calendar (ahem), and one on top of my filing cabinet. This idea is so very much in tune with my brain. I love you forever.

  66. Oh, I am just horrible at these pileS. My poor, sweet husband sees them grow. There’s the counter one and then the one next to me on the couch that gets transferred from my side of the bed and back to the couch. It’s awful! This idea is brilliant. My husband thanks you. ;)

  67. I have a same sort of system, only I use a binder with lots of page protectors and 5 tabs. I love that it is just one item and that nothing can really fall out of it. Instead of months, my tabs are labeled To Do List (stuff pertaining to my never ending list), Needed Soon (tickets, driver’s licence renewal, papers for the doctor’s appointment), Important Papers (info that I would like to have on hand for a couple of months, such as general gymnastics info), Lists (packing list, gift list) and Reference (papers with no expiry date – doctor/hospital info, bank info, recycling info). I love having a place for papers!!!!!!!!!!

  68. I am an expert on piles! Stacking them, moving them, and hiding them…. ;-)

    I think I will aim to try this system this week! Thank you very much! And I’m all signed up over at The Power of Moms. Looks great!

  69. Oh I really like this idea! I’m thinking a nice vertical file in the kitchen…. well once the renovations are done! thanks so much!

  70. I think I would also add to that a file titled THIS WEEK to put my child’s spelling list (which I’m supposed to practice with him) and other “take home” children’s assignments. Maybe one for each child!

    Love this idea!

  71. Thanks for this. I had read David’s book but didn’t like the idea of all those folders. It never even occurred to me to just work with the month files. I’m setting this up when I get home tonight. Will be great to organize home and business life! Thanks!

  72. avatar
    Karina Ohep says:

    Great idea! My two cents: I bought a 3″, three-ring binder for each of my kids and put in dividers (one for each school year all through pre-, middle- and high-school), and a couple of clear plastic page protectors in each school year. Now important tests, teacher notes, special assignments and report cards have a place (only those tests and papers worth saving). It has made decluttering school papers easier, and saving the important ones too. And it is only one binder per kid, so it really doesn’t take much space on a shelf, and I can hand it to them when they leave home. As for important documents, I just got a plastic accordion file and gave each family member a slot to organize everything from birth certificates to id cards. At least if I need a copy I know where to look, although I also scanned the docs.

  73. avatar
    Londi Murray says:

    hi!
    i just read the E book & have been getting the whole program going- its a miracle to me! i have 5 kids & SO much paper! i cant ever find things when i need them, so i think this is really going to make my life easier. one question April- where did you find your cubbies? i really like the idea of cubbies over a file box, but couldnt find them at office depot today. so im off to hunt for them tomorrow- but thought i would check with you 1st! thanks so much!!!

  74. Any suggestions on how to organize my kids art work. They do several art projects at school at home. I want to keep most of them, but they ususally end up in “the pile” or get moved to their room to a pile. I don’t know what to do with them.
    Thanks!

    • I’ve had the same issues with “preschool art.” I use a two-basket system called the “Sneaky Sorter.”

      Artwork goes immediately into one of the two baskets. One basket is stuff I will probably throw away. Another basket is stuff I will probably keep. (I don’t tell the children which is which, but I empty them/photograph the contents once a month or so.) That’s just what works for me . . ..

      Good luck!

  75. I just found this and am so excited! I love how you use it with your calendar. I used the 12 month and 31 dailies when I worked in an office. But it is just too much for this homeschooling mom. I really love your idea and am going to put it into practice this weekend! Thank you so much!!!

    Growing in Grace,

    Mary Joy

  76. Awesome! I needed this idea! How did I not know about this site? I am going to have to spend some time here for sure. :) You are involved in so many great things, I love the Power of Moms, and I can tell I’m going to love this blog, too!

  77. Is it too late to get a copy of that?? That idea is AMAZING!! I have read organizing books, blogs, websites, magazines, for years, with 5 boys I need all the help I can get! A few things have been helpful, but after awhile it’s the same old same old, only touch a paper once (hah!) keep things visible but organized, simplify simplify simplify… but THIS is amazing!

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