Organize Unclutter 2008: March – Week 3

MAR 17, 2008

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March’s goal is an organized and uncluttered home office. Read the original post here >

We’re recovering from the flu and are better now. :) This week is a continuation from the last 2 weeks with only a bit more added on. If you are caught up, then this week will be a breeze. If you are like me and didn’t get ANYTHING done last week… well, it is going to be a busy week. ;)

This week we will finish filing our paperwork, set , create a file index, and will learn how to cut down on papers coming into your home.

We’ll have 4 tasks to accomplish this week. Ready? Great! Let’s start!

Note: Remember to use what steps you can, adapt other steps, and leave out what you don’t need.

Tools you will need:

  • Manila file folders, hanging folders, and tabs OR 3-ring binder
  • Labels
  • Office supplies: envelopes, checkbook, stamps, pens, calculator, stapler, and return address labels
  • Small, clear container

1. Continue Filing Using Last Week’s Directions

See last week’s tasks and my filing system to gain ideas on making a usable, efficient system of your own.

2. Set Up an ACTION Folder/Binder

This could be done as a file folder or a 3-ring binder. The system that works for you is the best system for you to use!

Obtain a hanging file folder and tab it on the left with “ACTION”. If using a binder, label the outside with ACTION. Alternative labeling for your binder might be “HOUSEHOLD INFO” or something of that nature.

Next, label your file folders on the right or create dividers within your binder that read:

BILLS – Current bills that need action on.
LOG – This is contact information that need to go in your addresses book, computer, or PDA.
PENDING – These are items that you are waiting for information or time to pass. Check this every Monday to see if something needs to move into the “TO DO” folder.)
TO CALL – RSVPS, etc. that you need to make phone calls.
TO DO – These are items that need action by you during this week.
TO FILE – To file away in the cabinet. Make it a habit to file papers at a minimum of once a week. Every Monday is a good time!
TO READ – This may include articles you cut from magazines. Weed these out at the end of each month.

Add additional sections that may be useful to you, including but limited to:


The key is to eliminate all those scraps of paper lying around your home and give them one central location to reside. All this important information will be here to find quickly and when you need it!

Some tips on your bills:

1. Keep your bills together. Do not file them into separately file folders until after they are paid. Put them in your BILLS folder of your ACTION files or binder.

2. Designate 2 to 4 regular days each month to pay bills. We pay bills on the 5th of each month since we only get paid once a month. You may choose to pay bills each Friday. Whichever day you choose, make it consistent.

3. Have a place to sit down and pay bills. At this place, have bill paying supplies on hand and available: envelopes, checkbook, stamps, pens, calculator, stapler, and return address labels. If you pay bills at your kitchen table, keep these supplies in a small container to keep near you.

4. As soon as you pay your bills, record the transaction. Whether you are using a checkbook register or computer QUICKEN type program, note the date, check number, and amount on the bill invoice and in your checkbook register immediately.

5. Prepare envelopes for future bill paying needs. For recurring bills, prepare a handful of envelopes to speed up future bill paying times. For example, make out 12 envelopes addressed to your landlord. Now, for the next 12 months, you’ll be ready to go!

6. Snowball your debt and reduce or eliminate it! Want to cut bill-paying time considerably? Get rid of your debt! Dave Ramsey has excellent advice on snowballing your debt to eliminate it.

3. Create a File Index

Why would you want to create a file index? If someone else needs to access your files for any reason, they will be able to quickly understand your system and find what they need. It is also there to remind you of where particular files are located and help you to maintain consistency in filing papers in the future.

Create an index that lists each of your categories and subcategories of files. Be sure to date this so you know when the last time you updated your file index was.

Put this at the very front of your file cabinet.

4. Cut Down on Papers

On your computer, don’t print out everything. Especially emails. Only print what would be detrimental if you were to suddenly lose power. Otherwise, back your data up on CDROMS or an external hard drive for safe-keeping.

Immediately throw away junk mail and extraneous items within mail. (i.e. advertisements, envelopes, etc.)

Sign up for e-statements from your bank, credit card companies, cell phone company, utility companies, and more.

Get off of mailing lists. Did you know 19 BILLION catalogs are sent to US homes each year. That’s 53 million trees cut down for those catalogs. Here are some options to reduce the junk in your mailbox (and thus reducing what comes into your home):

Direct Marketing Association – allows your to opt-out of EVERYthing.

Catalog Choice – allows you to selectively choose which catalogs you wish to keep receiving and which you want to stop.

Call 1-888-5OPTOUT to stop unwanted offers of credit. This will remove your name from credit issuers mailing lists for 5 years. No more credit card applications and insurance offers in your mail box. Added bonus: you’ll reduce your chances at identity theft! Don’t forget to have other family members opt out.

For many other great ideas to stop the junk mail from coming into your home can be found here >

That’s it! We are done with our paperwork. Next week, we’ll do some computer maintenance and tie up some loose ends.

Don’t forget to add your link to Mr. Linky so I know you are participating! If you are not added, you won’t be in the monthly drawing!

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