A few days ago I lamented the lack of office space in my house. Someone commented that they would like my tips for containing the paper beast so here is my system.
Number one, on the list is pocket folders. I use separate folders for different paper types. One for receipts for art supplies and invoices, one for commission contracts, etc.
In theory I have a folder for kids art art and school papers. Here's the thing, because I don't, my system doesn't always work for me. When I had them it worked.
The two essential things to making it work are going through papers each day and putting them in their designated spot and actually having a spot.
I use the folders and then when they get unmanageable purge them of unwanted stuff and stash them in a magazine folder or a wall pocket.
Number two is our bill system. Our system for bills is a bit different but it works really well. You need a calendar and a "spot" like a drawer that is only for bills or a letter tray that you must not bury with other papers.
When bills arrive, open them and note the due date with a red marker on the outside of the original envelope. Then put the contents back in the opened envelope that the bill came to you in.. Then simply write "BILL" on your calendar two or three days in advance of the due date. For instance, if your bill is due February 1, you write it on the calendar square for January 29th. We pay all but one bill online so two days works for us. If you are mailing your bills it would make sense to give yourself more time.
Our calendar is on the inside of our pantry door, a high traffic place, so don't hide this calendar too well.
On to tip number three.
Near this calendar I have a magnetic dry erase board. I should have bought one three times the size that I did because the goal was to keep papers off the fridge (something I hate) but alas its petite size means my fridge usually looks raggedy with papers.
It is where we keep a running grocery list. With so many people in our house I can't possibly know when we run out of everything. It is a good place to keep written phone numbers for the neighbors, spare keys and the school calendar. This is another system that really works for us. I only wish it were much bigger.
My last little decluttering tip is not really about all of the paper that falls into our lives but the miscellaneous things that just appear.
For those things I employ trays of every size. Its a good halfway house for those things that you are not ready to put away just yet but can't just leave all over the place. Again, the trick to this working is staying on top of what you do not need and throwing away or putting away.
What are your systems?