“Wait-no-more” organizing challenge

This is the post you were supposed to get on Friday. So much for “wait-no-more.”

My office is the least set-up room in our house. As such it’s a constant challenge to stay organized. I’ve shared my shame before more than a year ago, and, apparently, I’m going to do so again.

This time it’s mostly just a build up of paper. I have a hard time staying on top of my paper always. Despite a rainy Sunday two weeks ago, I just couldn’t motivate myself to tackle it.

Piles of paper on top of the filing cabinet

Then, Jen at IHeart Organizing posted a “Wait-no-more” organizing challenge. She’s tackling four trouble areas in her home. I may not do four, but I was going to get my butt in gear and do at least this one.

Jen shared a cute printable to help get the organizing started, so the first step was filling that out. She asked what’s working and what’s not working. It was really good to consider that before I just dove into cleaning up the paper.

IHeart Organizing printable

The wood plate that my Dad made for us works very well on the hall table for mail. Unfortunately, mail and papers also find their way to the kitchen island, which doesn’t work so well. I still love the little nook in my office. The bulletin board, calendar and dresser drawers all work to help keep us organized. I love the drop zone for my keys, sunglasses, wallet. Unfortunately, I’ve dropped a few too many things in the drop zone–the curse of a flat surface.

Paper storage options

On the other side of my office, the wire caddies on the wall could work to store paper until I’m ready to file it. Unfortunately, I forget which bin is which and end up stuffing everything in together. Some labels would help me stay organized. The filing cabinet may be ugly, but it also works. We are a paper household, so we need a place to stash it all. What doesn’t work so well is the top of the filing cabinet–another flat surface that is just a magnet for piles of paper.

Paper storage options

The plan for the week was to sort, reconcile, file and label.

Matt was out with friends on Friday night, so I finally got started. (Do I know how to have fun or what?) Another rainy day on Sunday allowed me to finish the job.

I only do the filing and reconciling every few months (I’ve tried monthly, and I just don’t stick with it). I’ve learned that I need various systems to control the paperwork between reconciliations. (My problem this time around was that everything got a little out of control).

The first part of my system is a receipts bin. This is just a cereal box covered in wrapping paper (a tip I picked up from IHeart Organizing) and tucked into a drawer in my office. Receipts come out of my wallet and into the bin. (Other bins hold gift cards, takeout menus and coupons).

Receipts

The statements and other mail go into the wall caddy. I don’t think I’ve shared this project before. The organizer was one of those white wire things. It had been left behind by past owners, and I’d tossed it in a closet. When I was first organizing my office a year ago, I realized it might work to sort the mail. Remember the first tip of storage and organizing–use the vertical space.

I hit the organizer with some ORB spray paint and screwed it to the wall. It looked good and could have worked well, but for some reason it was hard for me to remember what papers went in what bin. The labels that I added last weekend make it much more functional. I just chopped up a paint stick, drilled a hole in the end, wrote my categories on them with a marker and then tied them with twine to the bins.

Mail organizer

Then it was time to get sorting. There were lots of piles of statements and receipts spread out across the office floor at various points on the weekend.

Reconciling credit card bills

I made a few new files and tucked everything into the filing cabinet. And here’s the before and after to show how far the office–or at least this corner–has come.

Paper work before and after

There’s obviously still some more organization to go (pictures tucked on the floor around the cabinet) and some decorating that’s needed (very, very boring blank wall above the cabinet). There’s also still my nemesis–a big flat surface with the top of the filing cabinet. Even worse, it’s now completely clear and just waiting for clutter.

I need to come up with something to decorate or use the top of the cabinet so that it doesn’t become another drop zone. Any suggestions?

I’m sure paper will gang up on me again, but I feel better for having it under control at this moment.

Thanks Jen for organizing the “wait-no-more” challenge.

How do you tackle paper organizing at your house? Or are you paperless? Does anyone else reconcile like I do? I always feel a little neurotic matching up every receipt. What’s your biggest organizing challenge?

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6 thoughts on ““Wait-no-more” organizing challenge

  1. I hate paper clutter! Truly. Your office is looking so much better, and I like the way you assessed what was and wasn’t working.
    I don’t reconcile, because I no longer use cheques or credit cards, but I do put every line of my bank statement into Dave Ramsey’s free online budgeting tool, “Every Dollar”. It’s wonderful!

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