It’s probably best to have one main calendar the entire family can see. When you get a notice about a field trip or assignment due, make a note on the calendar. Use the same calendar for notes about bills to be paid, doctor’s appointments, and so on. No need to have five different calendars for five different purposes or one for every member of the house.
The same can be said about photos, artwork, and the like. Every time your child brings home a new piece of art, take down the one that’s already on the refrigerator – don’t simply add sheet on top of sheet. Choose a few selective photos to display on your fridge, and feel free to rotate them every month for something new to look at, but don’t try to put up every cute picture of your family, every note from your spouse, and so on.
Storing papers. Here too is where it pays to keep like with like, and to have one place for everything. For example, you should have one spot where you keep bills to be paid. This can be one corner of your desk or one small wicker basket. Don’t drop a bill by the front door or the kitchen table or anywhere else. Some even keep their checkbook and a roll of stamps in this same spot as well – when it’s time to pay bills, you’re all set!
For the kids’ school papers, have one plastic bin or file folder for each child. Once you’ve noted the necessary information on the family’s calendar, put the flyer or memo in this file. Then, when you’re looking at the calendar and see a field trip or bake sale or anything else coming up, you know where you can find that paper with the additional information you need.
It’s also imperative to have one spot in the home where you keep important papers, such as the deed to the house, title to the car, insurance policies, and so on. A fireproof metal box is handy, and can be purchased inexpensively at virtually any office supply store. You can of course get a safety deposit box at your bank if you wish, but these home safes can work just as well.
Small filing boxes can be purchased at any office supply store and typically work well for most household. You can put away the bill stub once it’s been paid, store your paycheck stubs, tax returns, and anything else out of sight. However, these storage methods won’t work if you don’t use them! Don’t just toss your papers anywhere and leave them there; make it a point to put things away in their file once you’re done with them.
Purge the paperwork as well! It’s a general rule that tax returns need to be kept for ten years, but other bills – utilities, car payment, etc. – can usually be pitched after six months, if even that. When you get a new bill in, make sure they’ve credited your account for your last payment, and then when the bill is paid and you file it away, pull out the oldest one in your file and pitch that.
It’s a good idea to have a small shredder for use at home, for security and privacy. If you don’t have a good place in your home office where it can be plugged in unobtrusively, put it away in a closet and when you need to purge papers and bills, stack them on top of the shredder. Then, once a month or every other month, pull it out, plug it in, shred your papers, and empty it.