5 Paper-Related Items to Edit from Your Home Command Center

By Dawn Link, CPO®

We all have some form of a command center or central hub in our homes. It could be the desk area in your kitchen, or a corner in your dining room, or on your desk in the home office. Regardless of where it is located I am sure there are items that you can edit out of that space, especially in terms of paper clutter. Here are few categories to get you started.

1. Paper and Electronic Bills – How long do you need to keep your paid bills? Well, it depends. If any of your paid bills are used as a tax deduction, it needs to be kept for as long as your accountant tells you to keep your taxes. Some people like to keep bills for a calendar year and then when January rolls around, they will purge their files and start new. Some don’t keep any at all. Some scan their bills and store them electronically, again keeping them based on their accountant’s advice. It really comes down to the space you have allotted to store your important papers. The ah-ha moment here to take away is that when you clear old papers from your files, you make space for present day bills. Don’t go buy another file cabinet just so you don’t have to edit your papers! read more

The Simpler the Better

Receiving a thank you note in the mail is pleasant. It’s even more pleasant when you’re being thanked for something you didn’t realize would make an impact on the other person. This happened to me when I offered a simple organizing solution to a Realtor I had met at a networking event. She asked me if I had any ideas how she could keep all her real estate forms portable and organized. I suggested a portable accordion file. The next thing I know, I’m reading a very sincere thank you note that makes me smile. It just goes to show you, sometimes the simplest organizing solutions are the best solutions. In this case, find a good home for paper and things. read more

Piles on the Stairs: Proceed with Caution

The other day, I put a couple of papers on the stairs to take up with me next time I go up.  I told my husband that’s why I put them there.  Then he asked a very sensible question: “Should we get a basket to collect things on the stairs?”


Right now, those papers are intruders on the stairs. They are the only things there, and they don’t belong. I’ve made a pact with myself that if something is on the stairs, I MUST take it up with me the next time I go.  But, if there is a basket there, I know that things will begin to “live” in the basket.  The basket gives those papers, socks, gadgets, etc. permission to be on the stairs. Once things have permission to be there, the longer they will stay. read more

Resources to Reduce Paper Mail

I was at the National Association of Professional Organizers Conference for 5 days and guess how many pieces of mail I received? Only 9! In addition, I did receive one local newspaper and one packet of flyers. Out of those nine pieces of mail, two were really good, a check and a copy of the news article in which I was quoted. Not bad, right? Would you like to know the secret of how you can receive less mail? Below are my top 3 tips on how to reduce the amount of mail you receive:

1.  Get your name removed from mailing lists for newspapers, magazines, catalogs and solicitations. Please note it can take up to 6 months to be removed from a mailing list. Some websites to try: read more

Creating a Home Mail Center

We may not be sending handwritten letters to our friends anymore, but there’s always something still in the mailbox.  I wanted to give you three tips on how to create a home mail processing center.

1. Assign a home for incoming mail.  Whether it’s the corner of the table in the hallway or a paper tray on your kitchen counter, you need a specific, designated spot for the mail once it comes into your home.  Nothing else lives in that spot. Whether you process your mail daily, weekly, or whenever you get around to it, at least you know ALL the mail is right there waiting for you. read more

Keeping Track of Books: LibraryThing.com

My husband is a librarian and a scholar at heart. He has lots of books.

I have my own collection of books, including a large selection of children’s books to use in my preschool classroom.

Our family loves LibraryThing.

LibraryThing is a  website where you can catalog books. Here are some ways you can use it:

  • My husband has cataloged his entire personal library. This helps him keep from buying duplicates.
  • I tag all my children’s books according to theme. Then when it’s time to get books about fish, I can search my own collection quickly. No need to refamiliarize myself with what’s on my bookshelf.
  • Whenever I find a children’s book that I love, even if I don’t own it, I put it in LibraryThing and tag it with the theme. Then I don’t need to do a catalog search at the public library next time I need to find that cute book about manners.
  • I often hear about books I’d like to read someday. When that happens, I hop on LibraryThing, search for the title or author, add it to my catalog, and tag it “Books to Read.”
  • I’ve heard of people also using LibraryThing to keep track of which books they’ve loaned out.

LibraryThing has a social media component so you can connect with people who are reading the same things you are. You can explore other people’s catalogs and read people’s reviews. I haven’t taken advantage of these features, but they are there. read more

A+ Homework Helpers

Try these tips to set up an effective homework spot for your child:

Provide a lap desk if your child likes to do homework in bed.
Clear the desk clutter.  Does your child have a clear space to spread outand work? Remove anything that has piled up on the desk but isn’t related to homework. Have the most-used supplies (pens, pencils, stapler, notepad) out on the desk and ready to go. Make sure your child’s desk has drawers or another spot to keep the less-used school/craft supplies. If your child prefers to work at the kitchen, stash supplies in a cabinet or basket. Have good lighting for the workspace. If your child likes to work on the bed, get a lap desk. Provide a place for the papers. No matter where your child likes to work – desk, bed, or kitchen counter – be sure they have a place to store their school papers. A desktop file works great – label a folder for each class.

Give papers a home with a desktop file.

Elizabeth Goodsell is a Professional Organizer and owner of That’s Neat! Organizing. Check us out at www.thatsneatorganizing.com or call 617-905-7762.

File Organizing: Use Stickers to Identify File Homes

In the process of revamping a client’s filing system recently, I recommended using matching colored interior and exterior file folders to help identify different parts of her world: family, bills, home etc. (This system is described in detail by Erin Elizabeth Wells in this video.)

While color-coding a filing system is a great long-term organizational tool, it can also be expensive. This particular client already had a vast quantity of manila interior file folders, so she opted to use those instead of buying more. Then she purchased exterior hanging folders in five colors and some small colored stickers. read more

File Organizing- NAPO-NE Video Tip

Erin Elizabeth Wells, Founder and CEO of Living Peace Professional Organizing, offers some simple tips for keeping your filing system easy to interact with.

Erin WErin Elizabeth Wells is a Founder and CEO of Living Peace LLC of Salem, MA and Winchester, MA and is a NAPO-NE member.  Check us out at www.living-peace.com.  Or call (617) 519-5693.

Managing Your Mail

Most of us are drowning in paper these days. For many of us, a large piece of the paperwork puzzle is the stuff that just keeps coming – the mail! Don’t get me wrong, some mail is good, but if you’re like most people, you get more mail than you need or want. If you don’t have a good way to manage and maintain it, it will just keep piling up. Here are some tips to make your mail maintenance quick and easy.

  • Make time everyday to open and read the mail.
  • Open mail in one mail center area with all your tools and supplies.
  • Have a wastebasket, recycling bin, and shredder nearby to toss the mail in as you open it.
  • Make decisions as you open the mail…

Scan the contents of each piece and process it appropriately. Immediately: read more