We’ve lived in our current home just a hair over a year, having settled here temporarily. We didn’t know how long we’d be in the States, but we knew it would be long enough to not just be able to crash with another family or house sit long-term.
13 months later, and here we are, still in the same house. It’s about 1,100 square feet, with two bedrooms, no garage, and a utility closet that serves as laundry room, nursery for the baby, and the back-up box storage.
Needless to say, it’s small for a family of five.
I tell you this because it means we haven’t amassed much paper clutter. With the amount we travel and move, it bodes well not to collect many papers, to scan and digitize as much as possible, and recycle or shred the vast amount you think you might need, just in case… but really, you don’t.
But yes, papers do pile up here quickly, and they’re my arch nemesis. Don’t ask me why, but I’ll take a mountain of clean clothes sitting in the middle of my living room floor over little scraps of paper flittering hither and yon.
My before and after
The paper pile, before:
I went around the entire house and collected all the paper just lying around, homeless. I was feeling mocked anytime I passed by a paper with no purpose.
The papers, after:
I thought of taking a photo of an empty table, to show that — well, the paper has been processed and is gone. You knew that. So here’s a few shots in action.
Here’s the “take action” box, full of heart-pounding action.
And you got it, the “to be recycled” box.
Kids’ arts and crafts
In processing the “take action” box, I found that (aside from recycling and shredding) most papers either went to a “Kyle needs to take care of this” pile, a “to be scanned” pile, and to the kids’ craft area for coloring on the flip side.
The activity cabinet
We have a simple dresser out in the living room that serves as the kids’ activity cabinet. They can get into it during playtime and go nuts — puzzles, games, drawing tools, paper, and coloring books.
Here’s the drawer full of scrap paper. If the kids ask me for a sheet of paper, they’ll know I’ll point to this drawer.
And just fyi, the top drawer is full of markers, crayons, pencils, paint, and paintbrushes. It’s easy to just dump everything in there and shut the drawer.
The bottom drawer has all the coloring and activity books.
Drawings get a rotation of refrigerator display, taped just where Kyle and I can gaze at their beauty (in my desk, on the walls), and on the bulletin board in the kid’s room. Afterward, we store the ones truly worth keeping, then recycle the rest.
We keep the kids’ most current art in these two white boxes from Ikea (the green box houses electronic cords). This is out in the living room, so we’re able to easily toss their creations in there (making sure we jot down the date or age of the child on the back).
When these white boxes get full, we go through them again, deciding whether the items are truly worth keeping. As I mentioned earlier, I like the idea of keeping three items per year — one handprint, one example of handwriting, and one piece of art. It’s hard, though, and my daughter in particular is quite good at both writing and drawing.
For now, we thin out the collection as much as possible, then store the papers in one cardboard box per child. The plan is to have only one box of papers for each child, from birth to leaving the nest. We’ll see.
We have another dresser in the living room that serves as our office supplies storage (I’m a big fan of dressers). This honestly isn’t very full — just some envelopes, printer paper, paper cutter, staples, and the like. We go paperless with everything as much as possible, so this dresser is plenty of room for everything.
I have two receipt stabber-thingies that I bought at Office Depot. One holds our family budget receipts, waiting to be processed into our budget account. The other one is business receipts for SLM. One spindle is more than enough room for a year’s worth of receipts, so I just leave them there, waiting to be processed for the year’s tax forms.
When I’m done with a receipt, I’m done. Into the shredder it goes.
We have tax returns, birth certificates, our marriage certificate, passports, and a few other absolute essentials in a simple portable file box. I’ve also got a small smattering of magazine pages I’ve torn out and are waiting to be scanned. Not many, though.
They’re all here, easily transportable.
I missed my Ikea Alve secretary desk from our home overseas, so my friend Katie very sweetly gave me her old desk. I love this thing because it’s small and it has a lid for me to close up my work when I’m done. It also serves as both my writing desk and my sewing station.
Ignore the ugly-yet-free office chair that’s actually really comfortable. I plan to paint and recover it soon.
These mini bread pans were a find at Goodwill, three for 99 cents. They store pens, computer cords, and my daughter’s stationery (a recent birthday gift, created by the adorable Olliegraphic).
I keep the many books I reference or read close at hand. As a random note, I tend to read about five books at once, and they usually couldn’t be more different (yep, Ann Voskamp and Clinton Kelly simultaneously).
When I’m done with my work, I simply close up the top and my office is gone. This is out in the living room as well (remember, 1,100 square feet), so I like vegging on the couch without my writing projects staring at me.
This week, Mandi has some great paper organizing tips, including a few vlogs. I really appreciated the one about organizing your homeschool.
And this has got to be the best paper and receipt decluttering tool I’ve seen:
Meet “Our Lady of Perpetual Procrastination,” found in Charlie and Sarah Park’s home. Love.
Now it’s your turn!
You don’t have to publish as many photos, by any means. Just a simple before-and-after shot is great — as many or as few are perfect, but in order to link up, you do need at least one before and one after photo.
Share your progress by linking below. Click the blue button that says “Add your link,” and follow the instructions. Copy and paste your blog post’s URL (NOT your blog’s home page — it should look like this: http://theartofsimple.net/paper-clutter-before-and-after, not like this: http://theartofsimple.net).
If you don’t have a blog, no problem! Submit your photos to the Simple Living Flickr pool, and then come back to link to your ‘before’ photo below. Copy and paste the photo’s URL.
I will leave the link submission space open throughout Project: Simplify (which ends on April 8), so even if you aren’t able to finish your master closet for a few weeks, you are welcome to share your link between now and the end date. However, to be eligible for this week’s giveaway, you must submit your link before this Sunday, March 20 at 8 a.m. CST.
And what is this week’s giveaway? Let me refresh your memory…
I Heart Organizing
Organizing fan Jennifer Jones of I Heart Organizing is joining forces with this week’s Project: Simplify hot spot to bless one of you with a whole smattering of her services. A random participant in this week’s hot spot will receive:
• One Room Inspiration Style Tile, which is a combination of design and organizational solutions for any given space (head here to see an example). The style tile is intended to act as inspiration in solving both design and organizational dilemma’s in a specific room in the home. A style tile will include 8-15 solutions along with a complete description and resource list. She will continue to work closely with the prize winner until they are 100 percent satisfied with the recommended space solution. Keeping the solutions on a budget is also always considered.
• Three-pack of personalized digital files, which includes a Meal Planning Calendar, and Shopping List and a Cleaning Task List.
• A chart or set of labels, custom created to suite the winner’s personal needs. This could be anything from a child’s task list or a family schedule or a personal “To Do” list. Or, a set of labels for child’s play bins.
I Heart Organizing will help you celebrate your completion of this week’s hot spot with inspiration to keep up with your new-found organization!
I loved seeing your results from the first hot spot, so I can’t wait to see the results of your hard work this week! Stay tuned on Monday, when I’ll reveal the next hot spot. Hint: you’ll need the help of other people in your home. Can you guess what it is?