Because I work from home, and generally like a clutter-free home (saves so much mental energy but that’s for another post), having my counter free of all the zillion pieces of paper and information that come to us daily really helps me stay on task and be more efficient with my time.
5 WAYS I KEEP THE COUNTER CUTTER FREE
1- Went back to using a paper planner. I have totally gone back to the good old planner, which I have also discovered is neither old school or uncool anymore. Just search #plannerlove or #planneraddict and you will find millions of people who love using a planner and even make them amazingly pretty. I don’t have time for all that pretty, but am falling in love with blue ink pens again. After having spent years of school using paper planners and then again in the professional world having to schedule every minute, I think I rebelled once I was my own boss. This worked for a short season, but I found to really get the most done in the shortest amount of time when I plan my days. Having a space to write things down when I get annoucements or reminders about them allows me to discard papers immediatly. I also use mini folders to hold onto bills and things right in my planner. (I am a HUGE fan of Franklin Covey if you don’t know where to start with paper planners.)
2- A counter/kitchen binder. This stores all those papers I need to access, and might otherwise get lost or buried. I have clear folder dividers to keep it neat. Folder one is for things that need attention “This Week”. Followed by a folder for each child. One for the “house” or a general catch-all. And the last one is just for me.
I also use clear sheet protectors to store school schedules, phone lists, homework cheatsheets, a cursive handwriting guide, house rules, and school password document. Each child folder holds their most recent medical documents, teacher’s class rules packets, upcoming field trip details, a sheet of name labels, and the like. Items I need easy access to, that don’t need file drawer long term storage, but aren’t urgent either (urgent goes in “THIS WEEK”- the first folder). More visual details on this in the replay video starting right here.
3- Catch All Tote. I have a divided tote that lives on my counter like this one from Target (no affiliate promotion). It holds my Counter Binder, a pad of paper, my paper address book, outgoing mail, and a few other miscellaneous items. This can be dangerous if I don’t go through it ever few months, but it’s also a great place to catch clutter when I am in a hurry. When we have company, I hide it in a cabinet – don’t tell. (You can see mine in the video.)
4- Monthly Folders in a file box. I created a folder for each month of the year. On the front, I wrote down important holidays and birthdays. Inside I store items I will need for each month. Batching my printing of home documents saves me a lot of time later and eliminated the excuse not to use it. For example, I print 12 of my Cash Budgeting envelopes. Fill them out, and then store in each month’s folder. I also print out chore charts and grocery lists in large batches and divide by month (4 in each). You can also use the monthly folder to hold bills for future attention, wedding invitations, birthday cards, event details (like camps), or any of those adorable printable ideas you come across and save “for later”. I just printed these for the upcoming Olympics and put them in the August folder. On the first day of a month, I go through the folder and empty it moving items to one of my other methods listed here.
5- Clipboard Command Center. Our family command center is pretty simple. This is actually where the kids are expected to keep their upcoming papers such as homework and schedules. Each family member has a clipboard hung by the mud room. They are color coded but you could leave the plain, label them, paint them, options are endless, just as long as you make it work for you it’s great in my book. Most recently this is where I clipped our voter registration cards. It would be a great place to keep the stub for your dry cleaning or special order pick-up receipt.
By using a combination of all these methods we keep the counter clean and eliminate piles of papers and better yet- misplacing something important. I should also add that it takes some discipline to do this. You have to take action with each paper as soon as it enters your home, or at least before you go to bed. We keep a small container near our trash can in the kitchen to hold paper recycling before it goes to the garage. This helped cut down our trash and gave a place for those unneeded papers to go right away.
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It’s your time- spending it keeping up with the people you love not looking for papers!