Not so long ago I felt I was drowning in paperwork, so I took some steps to reduce the amount of paperwork I had to deal with and to organise our important documents more effectively. I will share how we easily organise our family paperwork at home to stop it being an overwhelming task:
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Noticeboards are the easiest way to keep organised at home. We use magnets on the side of the fridge for upcoming appointment letters and vouchers. We also have a noticeboard in the kids playroom which has their current school information pinned to it. For making lists and noting down reminders quickly, then whiteboards are a great idea. There are lots of different whiteboards to choose from here at Teacherboards in all sorts of colours to match your home décor. There are boards that are magnetic or choose a half’n’half with cork or felt to one side for pinning things.
Synced digital calendars
Since I stopped writing in my beloved handwritten planner and went digital with our family calendar, I have to begrudgingly admit… it saves so much time! Ben had been trying to convince me for ages to use the iPhone calendar, but I was just so used to writing everything in a week to view planner. This was a bit of a pain when Ben wanted to make plans, but he was not with me and didn’t have access to the planner. He had to constantly call me to check our family plans. Now we have set up a family calendar and it’s synced between our iPhones. This means we can both see all our plans wherever we are and can put our own arrangements in without having to confirm with each other first. It also saves a lot of time as we can set up recurring events each week, month or year, without having to write them out every week as I did before.
There’s pretty much no need to be emailed any bills nowadays. Almost everything can be done online. We receive our bank statements and energy statements online which saves the hassle of receiving the letters each month and having to file them. If we ever need a paper copy then we can print one by ourselves from our online accounts. Going paperless saves time and paper!
Have a filing system
Some paperwork isn’t paperless yet and so it does need to be organised at home. Having a filing system that is organised can prevent this task from being overwhelming. I have a tray in my office that recently received paperwork I need to keep is put into. Then every now and then I sort it into our metal filing box. This is a lockable box that holds suspension files. These have tabs at the top to write the contents of each one. They can be quickly located and each on pulled out to access documents quickly. We have just one large metal box file for the whole family which I’ve divided into Home, Ben, Victoria, Bella and Reuben. When I put away the paperwork from our tray, I will also take the time to discard anything we no longer need from within the metal file. For example, for household bills I will only keep the last three. If we are paid and up to date then I don’t see the need to keep them any longer than this. Many of our bills can be accessed online or we can request extra copies of previous bills if we need them. It’s very rare we would need them though!
Luckily the schools and nurseries are going digital too. We now get sent school letters via email and also to an app. This means they are all in one place should we need to reference a newsletter and we no longer have to deal with as much printed paperwork coming our way. It’s much easier to organise things like this. Sometimes I will take a photo of a letter and save it to a folder within the Photos section of my phone. Then I can recycle the letter and not be overwhelmed by so many bits of paper everywhere, bit I can still access the letter if I need to.
If I buy something that costs a lot of money, like a new TV, or something with a warranty then I will keep the receipt and file it in our metal file. Otherwise for purchases that might go back soon, like clothing, I will keep the receipt on the fridge and recycle it once I know we are keeping the items. For all other irrelevant receipts, like food, I will simply take a photo of the receipts as I make money from them on the Shoppix and Receipt Hog apps. Then I recycle them. By using these apps to make money from my receipts I am also creating photo evidence of my receipt and purchase, so I don’t always need to keep the physical receipt as proof. I still do if it’s a large purchase, just in case. But if I ever need to reference a receipt or purchase number then they are stored within the apps.
Get rid of the junk
One thing that really irritates me is the amount of junk mail that Royal Mail delivers. I know they have to deliver addressed mail, but they now also deliver a stack of leaflets almost every day. Perhaps you like these leaflets and yes they are harmless, but to me it was just another job to do; something else to pick up and recycle and waste my time. I really don’t need any more bits of paper to deal with! To stop flyer distributors from posting things I stuck a ‘no junk mail’ sign on the door, but did you know Royal Mail employees ignore these? To stop Royal Mail from delivering their junk mail to you there’s a form you must fill in on their website.
The biggest way I am managing our family paperwork is simply by not having any. By going paperless with bills, using apps for school newsletters, storing receipts on my iPhone and using a digital calendar means the amount of paperwork we now receive is drastically reduced. If we do receive important documents then I have a filing system to quickly put things away and to be able to relocate when needed. By doing all this I find the family paperwork is no longer so overwhelming.
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