Friday, February 12, 2010

Organization of Piles of Paper

I read the tips. I get the blogs. I know many of the tips for controlling the paper monster that most of us seem to live beneath. I have attempted to conquer it last night. It feels GOOD!

Most of Friday was spent not only collecting the various piles of STUFF that had made their way onto different counters, into different drawers and around different spaces. I had catalogs, recipes, articles I'd ripped from magazines, filing, etc. I had bills to pay, drawings from my children, cards from relatives. I had menus from take-out restaurants and instruction manuals to know how to operate my new kitchen appliances. Yes, there was paper clutter EVERYWHERE.

Now, in their small piles here and there, they seemed somewhat manageable but when I put them all together, I realized how completely out of control it was!

My typical system is that I use Microsoft Outlook which syncs with my Blackberry for the purposes of keeping my calendar, to do list, memo/note pads, birthdays, etc.

At my computer desk I have a supply of spiral binders. I love these. I'm addicted to these and spiral journals with beautiful covers. I tend to just grab one when heading out to a meeting so that I can keep it with my stuff until I need to use the notes, trash them or transfer them to something electronic. I also have three trays at my computer desk on the upper shelf above the monitor which house: 1) Homeschooling stuff; 2) Scout stuff; and 3) My "in" box that is supposed to only house items that require IMMEDIATE action...but it'd just been turned into a catch all. Go figure.

At the desk level, I had a pile a good 18" tall of just random STUFF. I had a pile of stuff by the butler's pantry. I had a pile of stuff on the island. I had a pile of stuff in my bedroom. I had a pile of stuff here... I had a pile of stuff here... here a pile, there a pile... everywhere a pile pile. Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O. Yeah, that's what I feel my house was turning into .... a paper wasteland. I finally had ENOUGH!

I have two sources for controlling the paper clutter. 1) a closed hanging file system that I am going to utilize for my Once A Month cooking and recipe files. 2) a square cube that holds hanging files that I got for $2 at Big Lots that will hold EVERYTHING ELSE!

For my OAMC and recipes: THIS is the most reasonable place for me to keep it because I can then keep all five of my new books within it (for now, at least). I had recipes I'd torn out of magazines, ones I'd printed from the internet. It was a hot mess. Now, they're all beautifully organized into their own file folders. I have a folder for Appetizers, Breads, Soups/Stews, Pasta, Cakes, Cookies, Desserts... etc.

Another resource I have for my recipes is my "go to" recipe collection of tried and true recipes that I have on 4x6 cards in a recipe box. My next plan is to actually GO THROUGH this box and weed out the ones that I have yet to try. Those will either be added to the files I created last night OR to my software I've been utilizing for a while.

This program is called MasterCook 7. It's software that comes with TONS of recies preinstalled. You can create your own cookbooks (talk about weeding out paper clutter!) I honestly think it'd be in my best interest to go through and delete the ones that are preinstalled that I know that I won't use so that the software uses less space on my computer and isn't full of stuff just because it's installed on it. Apparently, I have a fear of needing information I had and then not having it. It's ridiculous. I know. I'm working on it. Ultimately, I'd love for all of my recipes to be on there. What I'd ultimately like is to have all my TNT (Tried-N-True) recipes in one cookbook created in MasterCook. The next step would be to go through my files and add the recipes one at a time and then scan in the photos of the finished product (and the steps, if necessary) and get rid of the paper clutter FOREVER! These would just go into themed cookbooks under titles of the folders they're in -- Appetizers, Beverages, Poultry, etc. AND, since I'm on several mailing lists from wonderful resources like Betty Crocker, etc. I could then copy THOSE recipes that I want to try into my MasterCook files and have everything in ONE resource instead of spread all over the internet in different recipe boxes on different sites. It will definitely be a work in progress for quite a while but I look forward to doing this!

Any-who.... for everything else: This has sections for articles on Parenting, Recycling, Tips, Exercise, Geneology, etc.

I will still utilize my 3 files above my computer desk but I will make sure that it doesn't remain a "catch-all" but will be just for items that require action within 14 days.

Another thing I realized I needed to create was a definite spot for my magazines and catalogs. I chose a round end-table in my family room since that was actually where I sat to read them anyway. I went through MANY of them last night looking for articles I wanted to read, decorating ideas I wanted to file, craft ideas I wanted to try and filed all those articles accordingly into the pink hanging file.

I have an ENTIRE garbage bag full of paper WASTE to go through and put into our recycle bin but honestly, I may just trash it at this time to save me from having yet ANOTHER THING to put on my "to do" list and just that way I can GET IT DONE!

I still haven't decided if I wanted to keep a paper calendar to organize and meal plan or if I want to keep my electronic means of doing so... but in the interim, this will DEFINITELY be a controllable resource for me to be able to find things quickly and it will let everythign have a place!

Photos to come soon... though trust me... they're nothing special! :)

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