In part one of this series, we talked about decluttering in general along with how to get organized in the kitchen. I deal with physical clutter in several ways, but the number one tool in my arsenal is three ring binders followed by plastic pocket dividers. Pretty binders are the best because in addition to keeping paperwork neat and easy to find, they add beauty to a room, but even plain ones work wonders. Some uses for binders:
- Recipes– With recipes on recipe cards, computer print outs, photocopies, magazine clippings, and various other formats, it’s difficult to keep them filed together. Three ring binders are perfect for that when combined with pocket dividers and plastic page protectors. Keep a dozen page protectors in each of several sections of a binder and when you have a new recipe, just slip it into one of the page protectors in the appropriate category. I keep dividers for Appetizers, Casseroles, Poultry, Beef & Pork, Vegetables, Other Sides, Soups, Pies & Cakes, Cookies, and a few others.
- Coupons – One of the best methods for organizing grocery coupons is using baseball card protectors designed for binders. You can have a page for each type product (cleaning supplies, canned vegetables, dairy, etc.) and have the coupons be visible without sliding on top of each other. For multiple coupons for the same product, keep them filed so that the coupon with the soonest expiration date is on top. My friend Jeanne is an extreme couponer and she uses the same system.
- School – Whether your kids are in public, private, or homeschool, one thing is sure – school generates paper. From artwork to math tests, by the end of the year the accumulation of paper is mountainous. A binder is perfect for filing the important papers and keeping them close at hand when needed. When I sort through school papers, I have handy a trash can, the school binder, and a hole punch. The papers go either in the trash immediately or in the binder. In some cases (like for artwork), the best method is to snap a photo of the art and then discard the original. By the time your child graduates, you will have a folder with digital copies of all of their artwork from preschool through high school and you won’t have to have any paper. For the best pieces, get them framed instead of pinning them to the refrigerator.
- Product Manuals – As with recipes, a binder with plastic page protectors is a great way to file product manuals. I photocopy the receipt so that I have a copy with my receipts and a copy with the manual and I file the booklet and receipt copy stapled together in a sheet protector. If you have too many manuals for one binder, you can separate them by product type (household appliances, computer equipment, entertainment equipment, etc.).
- Extracurricular Activities – From rosters to calendars, sports teams, theater, music, dance, and other activities are a constant source of paper entering the home. If you can, keep one binder for all activities with dividers for each. If needed, you can set up one binder for each activity. My kids are involved in competitive gymnastics and theater, so I have a binder for each of those. Since I am a committee head for theater, that binder has a divider for each show with all of the needed information available for easy reference. I am the webmaster for the gymnastics team, so I actually have two binders for that – one that contains all of the website information so that it could be handed off to a new webmaster when I “retire” and another that contains the information I need for my child’s team participation.
- Reference – As a webmaster, I have information for several websites as well as coding references, Photoshop manuals, and more. Binders help me keep that information organized and at hand since I use it on a daily basis. Whether your reference paperwork is for website, computer programs, gardening, crafting, or any other topic, three ring binders are a great way to keep it in order and handy.
Look for more on getting organized in Part 3, which will deal with ways to get organized around the house.