Paper Trails - My WAHM Plan

Paper Trails

I am surrounded by paper of one sort or another. Each day I set out to follow the Golden Rule of organization: Touch the item only once. Make a decision and put it in its home. 

This has always been tricky for me in our his & mine small business family. Some weeks its tough enough to handle the barrage of mail, school papers, appointments, coupons, invitations, etc. that makes up our family paper trail.  

Today as I set down at my laptop (which resides in my office, which is the dining room table). I have to move piles of paper. I’m covered up with note pads, planners and pens.  So that’s why my hubby couldn’t find a pen last night! Oops.

 I am an old school note taker and have notepads strategically placed throughout the house. Except for the bathrooms and our bedroom. Some rooms are work and call free zones.

Clearly, I have broken the Golden Rule. Several times in fact.  And, I’m teaching my girls to be awesome notepad users as well.  

 I started the frustrating task of clearing my work station; and un-earth notes from the girls.  One note says “I love you Mama, what’s for dinner?  Ah, I love the little hearts and cute little furry-baby! My oldest is so artistic.   

Another note says “Can I watch TV?” This one has highly decorated yes or no boxes for me to make my choice. This one is from my youngest. Again, my heart squeezes with that special Mom love feeling.

  I try to think back to what I was doing that made them write to me rather than talk with me.  I swallow my Mom Guilt and decide to save these notes to put in their memento books.

Which are,  of course, labeled and filed in their forever home with only one touch.


How do you handle your paper trail?

What is your paper style? Are you a stacker, a filer, a tosser?

Please share your thoughts.  


  1. Well, a little bit of all of that. I'm a little embarrassed to say what my office looks like right now. It is very cluttered at the moment, you would probably think I was a hoarder. I'm sure yours is way better organized than mine.

    This is a great post. It has inspired me to get if I could just get the motivation to actually do it.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting on my post:)


  2. You are asking me what my paper clutter strategy is? That is like the blind leading the blind!

    I am horrible at paper stuff, it seems like with having a child in school there is just SO. MUCH.

  3. I'm all 3. I've found that after our family committed to recycling, I have a much easier time getting rid of papers. On top of that, once we started our strict budget, it was even more easy to recycle some of the promotions, coupons, flyers, etc. I wasn't saving them "just in case" anymore. Now to figure out what to do with all the other mail...

    I wish I had a solution for you.

  4. My paper piles are stacked/stored in seperate areas. If I were to die though, no one would be able to figure out the system. I also hang on to all sorts of papers, little to large...heart tugging to maybe I'll write about that.

    You made the right choice about your daughter's notes. My grandchildren leave love notes for me that I display proudly for a long, long time...then put them in a 'memories pile'. Old habits die hard!!

  5. I'm a piler. There's one floaty pile in the kitchen with artwork, letters, etc.--all the stuff that doesn't easily have a home. Bills (yes, I prefer paper bills!) get filed right away, and I have folders for coupons and invitations in a hanging organization file right above the pile. But the pile just never seems to go away!

  6. I think it's aorable your kids leave notes!

    Um I'm a packrat...and nothing has a home...yet.

    It's on my to-do list for... tomorrow!

  7. Hi Sarah,
    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing.

    I bet your office wouldn't look as bad to me as it does to you.

    I'm so glad you found this post helpful! I'm with you on the motivation issue.
    Baby steps...

  8. Hi Tammy!

    Oh boy, I know exactly what you mean about the tons of paper that comes home with our kids, especially Elementary school!

    At least I can tell you there is hope!
    My oldest daughter who is in 7th grade rarely brings home paperwork from school and if she does it's a quick sign and return permission slip or something equally easy. :-)

  9. I'm a "reformed" mail piler. A couple years ago, I decided to pay as many bills online as I could and eliminate the paper bills as much as possible. Once I did that, I made a commitment to myself to touch or "sort" each piece of mail as it came into my home. Now, when the mail comes each day, I sort it right over the trash can - most goes right into the trash, some goes into my "office" and gets filed and some gets dealt with right then and there. Doing this has eliminated my worst paper pile habits.

    But, like you I am also a note-taker - I keep notebooks or as I like to call them "idea books" around me at all times. If inspiration strikes, I like having my idea book near to hand, so I have many running notebooks that do get piled up sometimes.

    I also like to print out really interesting or useful articles, crochet patterns, or recipes I come across and those do pile up. I have started using cardboard magazine holders to keep my "piles" in check. Did you know that a standard file folder will fit nicely into one of these? So, now I don't necessarily "pile" my papers I store them neatly in magazine holders. I get to keep collecting interesting articles, recipes, crochet patterns, and my "idea books" without having the leaning tower of paper piles all over the place.

    I have also found mail holders to be very useful for my working papers. I just make it a habit of going through this holder on a weekly basis, when I do my usual bill paying.

    But, old habits die hard and I catch myself trying to slide back into piling papers. I have a shallow basket that I allow myself to pile things into, if I can't figure out where to put something, or just don't feel like putting it where it belongs at that particular moment, I put it in the basket. Once the basket gets full, I will sort through all the papers and put them where they belong.

    My methods aren't perfect and I do have pile-ups, but I feel overwhelmed and unable to focus if things get too "messy" so I try to keep things neat - not perfect, just neat.

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Hi Ashley,

    I'm a bit of all 3 too, depending on the type of papers I'm dealing with.
    We recycle everything as well. We even take our own trash, just part of the price you pay when you move out of suburbia. :-)
    Thank you so much for mentioning budgets and holding onto coupons "just in case"! I'm glad to see I'm not alone in this purging.
    I just recycled several of those just in case flyers. It felt good!

  11. Hi Donna,

    I think you should write about holding on to treasures like this!

    I'm thankful I held onto the notes as well. And I'm doubly thankful that I had actually answered their notes~ (in green pen no less) so they can see my heart and humor. I get a bit witty from time to time. :-))
    Then again, they may read them years from now and sigh and shake their heads at their Moms lame attempt at humor!

  12. Hi Katy,

    I have a pile that sounds like yours. It rests on the small kitchen counter right in front of the basket ( that is meant to store the Take Action stuff)but has become my husbands catch all and departure terminal.

    He empties his wallet of receipts, business cards etc. so that his secretary( that's me) can file them or he'll go through them on Saturday mornings.
    This kitchen zone is also where we put anything that we need to discuss and take action on.

    Oh, and I'm still all for paper bills too. Being an Admin for so long, I seem to need the paper trail. :-)

  13. Hi Heather,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    I love my notes too, they really are smile-makers.

    I hope you have gotten motivated and are working on your paperwork today. But, if not, don't be too hard on yourself, you did just move recently!

  14. Hi Theresa,

    Wow! You are an outstanding example to all of us pilers that we can break the cycle.

    I really like your idea of the magazine holders! I didn't know the file folders would fit, but like you, I'm forever finding recipes or article I want to share and wind up putting it in my inbox on the family desk, which gets filled quickly.
    I whole-heartedly agree with you about keeping things neat ( not perfect, that was my Mom, whole nother post there, :D)- it helps me focus and be more productive.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your tips!

  15. I am simply a mess maker, a stacker and stacker and stacker.. ugh

    My desk is a mess all the time. Papers from this and that and the note pads that are buried and I cant find them.. LOL

    Im afraid I am no help to you.. :)

  16. Hi Shauna,

    I love your honesty! :-) I think deep down we all are mess-makers from time to time.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting my bloggy friend.

    Have a great day!


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