It’s the most clutter-filled time of the year!  Before you bring holiday cards and gifts home, why not deal with the worksheets, school papers, and coloring pages that have accumulated this past year. As much as we can try to live in a paperless world, there will always be a traced hand turned into a turkey, sitting on your counter. And no one wants to live in a world where there is no place to put hand turkeys! Here is the system that works at my house to sort and store what is special, and get rid of the rest.

Step 1: Establish a Drop Zone

When papers come into the house, you need a designated place to put them.  Ideally, this is a spot close to where backpacks and bags are unpacked. This spot should be a temporary location for papers to stay until you have a chance to sort through them.  I have a big bin that fits into a cabinet in my mudroom that I throw all the papers in as they come through the door.  I often like to display a few pieces on the fridge, but once they come down, into the bin they go.

Step 2: Sort in Batches

Now you let the bin fill up…don’t worry it won’t take long. If you are willing to sort them on a daily basis…kudos to you. But you don’t have to, in fact, I think it is more beneficial to sort papers in batches. Each little crayon scribble seems like a masterpiece when looked at individually.  But when you can see that there are 10 similar scribbles, it’s easier to let some of them go. Once the bin fills up, sort it into two piles. One that will stay and one that will go.  Your “stay” pile will be filed into your organizational system to save, and the “go” pile will leave the house. Don’t feel bad if you recycle the whole “go” pile. But if the thought of discarding all those papers breaks your heart, send them to grandparents or other people who might enjoy them.

Step 3: Set Up an Organizational System

A good organizational system is one that you will use. So the key here is to think about the amount of storage space you have and come up with a plan that accommodates that. I like portable file storage boxes.  They easily fit in a closet and each kid can have their own box.  I use hanging files, one for each grade, so a single box can house papers for many years.

Step 4: Repeat

Now all you have to do is repeat this process…over and over.  

So…declutter now to allow all the things you love a place in your home.