I might be exaggerating just a tiny bit. This only keeps 99% of my life organized. The part of my life that concerns my kids.
The other 1% cannot be accounted for.
I have used this hanging file holder for years.
Not pretty, but it has served me faithfully since the days when I had only 2 Cs in school. I’ve appreciated its service, but was ready for something a little more stylish. So I made this one.
I would be a disaster without this organizing system. With 4 kids in school, sports, and other activities, having a system that manages the mountains of papers that are brought home every day is beyond a necessity.
So, here’s how I use it… (I’ll include the details of how I made it in a later post.)
Every evening after school I sort all of the papers that were brought home that day. (This eventually becomes a job that my kids take over. I’m fortunate that the older 2 Cs now give me any important papers. They almost never leave them crumpled at the bottom of their backpack ;).)
First I decide whether the paper is trash or needs to be filed. (I throw a lot of things away!) If it needs to be filed…
Each C has a pocket. (You can read about the Cs here.)
Each C’s pocket has at least 3 folders, assigned a different category. For us, these are the categories that work the best:
School, Sports, Activities
My Filing Criteria:
Action Items or Ongoing Forms. These papers have the top pocket on my file holder. This includes papers that need to be returned by a certain date (that I can’t immediately complete and return, such as fundraisers). Other things in this pocket includes school-supplied packets of excuse forms for when a student is absent, and on-going reading and physical activity challenge forms that are collected year-long. I try to check these folders daily, so that I don’t miss any deadlines.
General information. For example, the older Cs get a syllabus for each class, which includes their teacher’s phone number, e-mail, and classroom rules. Definitely information that I want to keep, so it goes into their School folders. The little Cs get information about what is expected of them at soccer or gymnastics, so those papers are filed in their Sports folders.
Dates and Schedules. If the paper has any type of schedule or date of an activity on it, I write that information on the calendar, and then I file the paper. For example, if there is a chorus concert scheduled for Nov. 8th, I write the time and event on the calendar. I don’t need to add the other information (student’s required attire, assigned refreshment donation, etc.) because I can just refer to the paper as the event date approaches. I also add all scheduled games to the calendar. Conor plays soccer and lacrosse in the fall – both schedules are on the calendar, and we can plan in advance for days when games and activities overlap.
‘Keeper’ Papers. If the papers are returned tests or assignments, I look them over and then throw most of them in the trash. It sounds harsh, but I certainly can’t keep every paper they’ve ever completed! I do keep things that they are especially proud of – if they’ve gotten the high test score in the class (yeah!), or did well on a challenging assignment, etc. I tend to keep less papers the older they get. (But it’s impossible to throw away any art projects from the little ones!) The special papers, report cards, art projects etc., get displayed on the magnet boards for a day or two before they are replaced by a new paper.
When I take them off the magnet board, they go here. There is just no room for them in my fabric organizer. Keeper papers require a separate holding area!
I have tried a few methods of dealing with keeper papers, and this definitely works the best. The easier it is to put an item away, the more likely you will actually do it. I used to try to put the keeper papers directly into storage containers after being displayed. This sounds ridiculous, but because I had to take the lids off each time, the papers tended to get stacked on top of the container instead of inside the container. Then I’d have to sort through them again and put them in the correct container.
This thing holds a ton of papers. I usually collect an entire year’s worth of keeper papers in it! Last year, Caroline was in kindergarten and I actually had to empty hers before the year was over. (Her class was either very busy last year, or I wasn’t as selective about what I kept.) At the end of the year, or when a a slot is full, I transfer the papers into one of these…
labeled with their name and school year, which is stored away in our attic-closet. (We don’t have a usable attic space. This is a closet that serves as a small attic.)
I’ve had my ‘Keeper-Paper’ metal bin (from JoAnn Fabrics) for about 4 years. It works for us even though it only has 3 slots. Before Chloe started preschool, Conor had a slot on the bin . Since he moved to middle school, he has very few papers that I keep, since most of their tests are taken on answer forms (and not always returned), and he only has art for part of the year. Any keeper paper for him now goes into his pocket on the fabric organizer, and Chloe took his slot on the metal bin. (It’s the circle of liiiiife…)
School Calendars and Menus. Calendars that each school distributes every month and lunch menus don’t get filed. The school calendars note special assemblies and programs, and important school happenings that may or may not involve my Cs. I add the activities that concern us on my calendar, and then put these calendars on the magnet boards so that I can refer to them easily. The school menus stay on the side of the fridge so that everyone has easy access to them in the morning.
In case you’re curious, other pockets on the organizer are designated for coupons, take-out menus, directories, and church.
So much paper that can cause so much aggravation when it’s shoved in drawers or stacked on counters, all neatly tucked away and hanging on the pantry door. Ahhhhh….. I can sleep easily at night!
I can’t tell you enough how much less stressful life is by using this system!!! I’d love to hear how you stay organized. Any tips or suggestions??
Have a great week!