Getting Started Part 1

 "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."--Laozi

What's Your Vision?

As with all things, I like to have an end goal in mind or a vision of what I am working towards. This is often that "first step" I need to take. Without a direction to aim for, it's easy for me to get sidetracked or overwhelmed. For me, I am still not 100% sold on turning everything completely paperless. In fact, I am not sure that will be entirely possible for me. There are some things that I prefer on paper and is easier for me to work with. But what are those things? And could I learn to make the switch? That is what I am needing to decide.

I think though for the most part, I'd like to:

  • not have to go through ten piles of things to find one note or receipt or recipe or permission slip. No, I don't do that much. =)
  • find a way to put my recipe collection into a digital format so I can use my iPad as a cookbook instead of needing so many papers. I know there's a lot of online recipe boxes out there, but being the skeptic that I am, I want a backup copy of my own.
  • figure out a way to file away my ideas and notes (for blogging, speaking, ministry, school, home) in such a way that I can access and add to them easily. This is where I am considering if Evernote would be a good option. I haven't done enough reading yet to write about it, so stay tuned for a Part 2 to this series when I get that figured out!
  • create a system and have a place to put any papers that do enter our home without them lying in piles and getting lost or accidentally tossed (not that that has ever happened to me, of course).

TASK #1: What do you want to see in your home in regards to paper organization? 

Think about the things that frustrate you. How would you change them? What are you always looking for and can never find? What are some things you have hit on that work well for you now? What are things you'd like to try? Jot those ideas down!

Corral Your Paper

To get started, I began by corralling all the papers I found in my home. I went from room to room, collecting those unsightly piles. (Tip: Before I just piled everything in, I rifled through them to make sure there wasn't anything really important in them, like permission slips, that coupon I needed for the store, bills, anything I was working on, etc. Sometimes in my zeal, I get so "organized" that I lose track of what I need and have to wade through a pile to find it again! Don't let that be you.)

Mine ended up looking like this, and it included old newsletters, receipts, magazines, catalogs, etc. as well as kids' work, to-do lists I had started, recipes, information for Anah, plans for school next year, and more.



TASK #2: Okay, now you go around your house and collect all that you see. Remember to set aside the things you are going to need and clip them up somewhere.

Purge and Sort Your Paper

Clockwise from top left: school, teaching, home, magazines. Medical stuff not pictured.

TASK #3: After you have gathered all those loose papers and saving the ones you need immediately, do a quick preliminary evaluation. I threw away stuff that we didn't need anymore, like fliers from expired sales, old shopping lists, old to-do lists, etc. Freedom! It is a very satisfying feeling to see your pile start shrinking.

For those things you want to keep, start quickly organizing them into very broad categories like:

  • medical receipts (subdivided by person if needed)
  • school/kids papers--all those art projects, worksheets, tests, certificates (subdivided by child, if you wish)
  • home business, work, or ministry related papers (subdivided if you wish).
  • home/personal papers--recipes, ideas, menus, notes to self, to-do lists and such. I found a lot of loose receipts, the instruction manual for an electronic toy, directions to a place that I will probably go back to. I also included permission slips for the kids, activity information, etc. in this pile.
  • catalogs/magazines you'd like to look through

If these don't describe you, then separate into what seems like natural divisions for you. I have five major categories, some with subcategories. See if you can keep it to no more than five that work for you.

Okay, now take a break! Join me on Thursday for the next step! While you're waiting, you may want to gather some file folders (colored are great, but if you have blank ones and some highlighter markers, that will work too).