Paper Pile Purge – Magazines

Do you have a million magazines that are piling up around your house? Could you build a small fort with them? Well it’s time to sort and purge, unless you want to live inside a magazine fort…..

I have several magazine subscriptions that I love, but they do tend to pile up. I have a few places that I display them, but they are starting to get out of controlMorning (1)

What used to be a cute little stack of magazines has now almost outgrown the shelf.

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I knew I needed to take care of this ‘issue’ right away. (Please ignore my magazine pun – my tea was decaf this morning) Here are a few ways I’m going to rid my life of this growing stack of paper!

-There are a couple magazines that I’m not going to renew my subscriptions for at the end of the year. That will stop some of the paper clutter from coming into my house in the first place.

-I put 1 magazine in my car. That way, if I have a doctor or dentist appointment, I can bring in a magazine that I know I’ll have interest in instead of choosing from the stack at the dr’s office. (No more ‘Cat Fancy’ for me!)

-I am combining this paper pile purge with a Self Care Challenge from our Self Care for September Series. This week we challenged people to develop or revise their morning routine. I have a pretty hectic routine….2 kids, 3 dogs, working from home, blogging, cleaning, etc. It all starts early each day. What was missing was a few minutes to myself. I have been trying to drink tea in the mornings, but it usually sits until it gets cold. I am now taking 10 minutes to drink my tea and read one of my magazines.

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This will help go through the magazine pile and also ensure I have a more relaxing start to my day.

-As I read, I dogear the pages I will want to reference later. However, instead of keeping the magazines, I’m scanning in the pages I want to keep. I will then give my magazines to friends or donate to doctor’s offices.

If you are participating in our Self Care Challenge, we would love to hear the way you’re working your way to a better you. Share in our comments, facebook pages (NeatenYourNest or LifeSprinkles) , or twitter (@klifesprinkles and @neatenyournest)! Check us out on Instagram too (@klifesprinkles and @erinsnyder123)! If you’re not signed up yet, click here to link to our newsletter.

~Erin

Paper Pile Purge Series – Organizing Kid’s Artwork

If you have young kids, you also have artwork. Tons of it….oodles of fingerpaintings, construction paper dinosaurs, and pipe cleaner caterpillars. What in the world do you do with it all? I have some thoughts on that… (keep in mind that these are my opinions and feel free to ignore any suggestion. My objective is to reduce clutter, but each person has a different level of attachment to their kid’s art.)

First, learn to discriminate. I know the 448 drawings your 3 year old did of your cat are adorable. Seriously, I know. My son draws ‘maps’ to our house every other day and they are so cute. But do I really need them all? Do I? Absolutely not. I know you feel like you’re committing some sort of crime as you toss a piece of your kid’s art into the trash, but you HAVE to if you don’t want them to engulf your house! If you keep everything, not only is too much clutter, but then your brain just gets overwhelmed with Cheerio dinosaurs or whatever the current trend is. Just keep a few pieces and they become a lot more meaningful.

Don’t let your house become a shrine to fingerpaintings. For me personally, I like to display the most recent art and then replace it as new pieces are made. This lets me proudly show off my kid’s masterpieces without them becoming the wallpaper of my home.

Kids love to doodle or draw or fingerpaint as an activity. That doesn’t mean you have to keep them all, but it’s nice to do something meaningful with them. Check out this adorable way to recycle your kid’s art into gift wrap from Roar Sweetly.

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She punched fingerpaintings into heart cutouts and attached them to wrapping paper. What a sweet and adorable way to personalize a gift.

I have made bookmarks out of fingerpaintings and laminated them. I plan to send them to family members as cute little keepsakes.

Evan's Bookmarks

I also take pictures of my favorite crafts that my kids make, whether I keep the actual craft or not. That way, I have a digital record of their growth as little artists. At the end of every year, I plan to make one 8″ x 10″ printout of my favorites from that year. Here is Evan’s from 2012:

Evan's Art - 2012I actually had this printed on a mug for husband for Christmas and it turned out great.

Of course I do keep quite a few of these little masterpieces. So I needed a way to organize them. I decided to put them in a regular size binder in clear plastic sleeves. This is great for a few reasons:

-I have one for each kid so the art is organized.

-The clear plastic sleeves protect things from getting damaged

-It allows me to put actual crafts/ drawings in the book, but I can also put photos of the art I didn’t keep (Yes, I mean you cotton ball ghost and paper plate rabbit!). Some crafts are bulky or big and wouldn’t fit in a binder. But a 4″ x 6″ photo fits just great.

-I also put a few photos of the kids making or holding their crafts. That way I can see their cuteness as I look at their art.

Here are a few pictures of one of the binders:

image imageimageI love having an organized portfolio of their artwork. What are some ways you organize your kid’s art?

~Erin

 

Emergency Planning – Storing Documents

When there is an emergency, hopefully you have time to grab the essentials, ie family and pets. However, there are times when you just can’t get anything else. It is important to plan ahead in case something should happen to your home and you aren’t able to grab any personal papers. Even if nothing ever happens to your home, wouldn’t it be nice to not have to scramble for important papers at say, tax time???? Or when your 3rd grader has to start soccer and they need their medical records tomorrow. Or when you go to get a passport and realize they need your original birth certificate. I can feel the panic setting in just thinking about some of these scenarios. So everyone, it’s time to get your documents in order! These are just my suggestions, there are a million other ways to make sure your papers are safe. If you have any to add, please feel free to add them to the comments.

-Safe or Safety Deposit Box – For legal documents, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, previous tax returns, etc, I have a fireproof safe. It is not too expensive for a small one. Not only does it protect against fire (for a limited amount of time based upon the model you choose), but it is a good place to keep all of the super important documents together. Many of them are waterproof too. It is also good to be able to lock them as an added safety measure. Another option is to get a safety deposit box. The point is to keep the most important papers together and protected.

fireproof safe

-Back up and copy – I try to backup my entire computer onto an external hard drive at least once a month. For work stuff, I try to do it more often because I am constantly adding documents to my computer. For super important documents that I mentioned above (ie tax returns, marriage license), I also try to keep a digital copy. For my kid’s birth certificates, I ordered 3 ‘original’ hard copies of them when each kid was born. We kept one and another went to each set of grandparents. This is great because not only is there a copy, but should their birth certificates ever be needed during a visit, they are already there! Also, keep a copy of your passport on your computer and a paper copy with you when you travel in case something happens to the original.

-Scan in photos or other memories – I am currently scanning every single picture I own as well as kid’s art projects, cards from our wedding and anything else I might want to have a copy of if anything should happen to the originals.

-Upload to an external source – for the photos and memories, I upload them to an external website so if something should happen to my computer, I still have the files somewhere. I have just made the switch to Shutterfly so after using it for a bit, I’ll be able to post on the pros and cons.

-Minimize the paper – The less paper you have, the less you have to wade through, copy, scan, back up etc. So be selective in what you keep. Check out the ‘Paper Pile Purge Series’ on the blog for tips on how to do this.

paper

Take the time now to go through your important documents. Know what you have and where everything is. That way, if you are ever in a bind, hopefully your documents will be the last thing you have to worry about.

~Erin

 

 

Paper Pile Purge Series – Paper Shredding

Aaaah Paper Clutter! It’s everywhere, always showing up in piles in the mailbox, in backpacks, somehow taking over every inch of counter and desk space.  I try to keep it in check, but it still can easily get out of hand. Case in point. A couple months back, we redid the floors in our house and also painted almost the whole interior. So we had to move everything in every room. In the process, I took everything that was in a place it wasn’t supposed to be and put it in a lovely pile in my office. I’m not talking about things just laying around. I mean every single misplaced item out of drawers, closets, cabinets, under the bed. The pile was embarrassingly large:

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Now I normally wouldn’t handle an organizing situation like this. Normally, I would go through each drawer, etc individually and put things away accordingly. However, we were doing a big house project and I just didn’t have time to clean out my entire house right then.  I had to improvise! By improvise, I mean literally throwing things in a pile and running out of the room with my eyes closed so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.

After the major house projects were completed, I spent several weeks going through the pile.  The donate box and trash can were my best friends. I managed to whittle the giant mountain of stuff down to two piles. The larger one was all papers. This included folders, pictures, brochures, receipts, anything made of paper. Here is what this pile looks like:

Paper Pile Purge

Still daunting for sure. But not impossible! Over the next few weeks, I’m going to break down the steps I use to clear paper clutter.

This week: Catch up on my shredding.

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If you follow the blog, you might now I’m slightly obsessed with my shredder.  It’s awesome. A lean, mean cross cut shredding machine. I’m half tempted to write a poem about it, I use it so often.  So this week, I’m catching up on my shredding. I try to stay on top of it, but I still have a folder labeled ‘to shred’ that ends up bulging every few months or so.

I go through all of my folders every 6 months and pull out anything I can shred in addition to the daily stuff that comes in through the mail. That way, my file cabinets don’t get too full.

Shredding Tips:

1) If you have a shredder, take this week to catch up. Go through your files and discard old utility bills, credit card offers or other items you don’t need to keep, but don’t want others to see.

2) If you don’t have a shredder and are looking to purchase one, I recommend a cross-cut shredder. This cuts the paper both vertically and horizontally and is a much better option when it comes to protecting your privacy.

3) Instead of throwing most papers into the trash, shred anything with an account number, financial offer, or any other personal information.

Happy Shredding!

Shredding Tips

~Erin

Mail Station Bliss

I have a love/hate relationship with mail. When it’s under control and I’m neatly stacking opened items into my pay-file-recycle-shred piles, I feel in control and ridiculously accomplished. When it piles up though, I hate mail. I mean loathe mail. And I slink past the growing pile slowly and glare at it like a cat looks at you when it’s in a bad mood. (You know that look).

My sister told me I should do a post on organizing mail the other day after I told her how I got so behind somehow. I had been going through the pile with my two kids in the room and they were literally rolling and burrowing in the pile of creased and sharp edged paper. Totally safe for little kids, right?

So I thought I would share a few tips and also the comfort that even people who pride themselves as ‘organized’ get way behind sometimes when it comes to daily tasks. So first, I present to you my extremely boring mail organizing system:

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This is the top drawer that holds basic office supplies. The basket in the bottom right corner of the photo holds my ‘mail related’ items, such as stamps and a return address label stamp.

IMG_6914This is the right hand side of my desk. You can see a small mail organizer, which has 2 compartments. In the back compartment, I keep mail I still have to deal with, whether it’s a bill to pay, a phone call to be made, or an invitation to one of the many black tie galas I’m invited to (no…not really, mostly just bills).  The middle compartment holds blank envelopes. The front compartment holds several misc items, such as a letter opener and apparently (according to this photo) my cell phone. Weird.

I also have my shredder sitting right next to my desk. I explain my love for my shredder in this post.  And the shredder is sitting on top of my file cabinet. So here is my usual process for going through mail.

-I open everything and separate them into 4 piles: File, Shred, Recycle, and Take Action

-I throw the recyclable item’ s in the recycle bin (conveniently located next to the file cabinet).

-I shred the ‘shred’ items. Or sometimes, if I’m really short on time, I’ll put them in the aptly named ‘To Shred’ folder in the file cabinet. I try not to do this too often though, because then it tends to build up.

-Then I file everything in the ‘file’ pile.

-Then I try to go through all of the action items and pay bills, make calls, etc. If there are things that have to wait, they go into the back compartment of the mail organizer.

Now this is not a perfect system and sometimes I get waaaaay behind. But it’s the best system for me and that’s what it’s all about.

However, here are a few other ideas I’ve found in blog land to inspire you to organize your mail stations.

How cute is this DIY mail station? She took a cardboard box, cut it in half and then covered with an adorable pattern. If you are short on space, using wall storage is always a great idea.

I love this mini workstation. It has everything you could need without being cluttered. The little pops of color would inspire me to keep my desk clear so I could see it!

Mail Center 4

This mail system is very similar to mine….except it’s a lot prettier to look at. Maybe someday…..

How do you efficiently go through your mail? Or is it in giant stacks all over the counter? Because we do both at our house ;)

~Erin