You don't have to wait for a new episode of our organization series to have a "big O"! Fans of Monica Ricci can email us ANYTIME with their organizing questions and stories so we can share them and learn together.
Big O Question: Hi V&J, My biggest problem is not having a place for everything to live so they don't get put away. Mostly papers that gather on the coffee table. Also, how to I deal with a husband who will not deal with the pile of papers of his that I leave for him to decide what he would like to keep? He's gone 3 days out of the week and doesn't feel like going through the stuff when he gets home. They continue to pile up. I've tried to put them in decorative boxes but then he REALLY forgets about them. Please help. Thanks, Kelley C.
Big O Answer: If it makes you feel any better, pretty much everyone struggles with these same issues. Number one, we ALL have a couple places where items seem to collect and typically it’s transient items that pile up, such as mail and kids school papers.
Think about this… when you come home with bags of groceries, do you sit them on the kitchen counters, leave them there all week and just rummage through the piles to figure out what to eat next? Of course not. Groceries all have a place to live, so you put them there right away.
You can do the same with paper. One of the best ways to handle incoming papers (whether it’s mail or whatever) is to CREATE A PROCESS where you presently have none. The trouble is that paper has all kinds of possible actions so it’s not as cut and dried as groceries are.
The trouble with paper is that most people have ONE big pile of it, and then continually add to it, and search through it to find the action items. The secret to paper management is to break the big pile of paper into THREE piles and you add to those piles every time you process the new mail which ideally, should be every few days or so. (However, JEN only processes her mail WEEKLY which works for her.)
EVERY time the mail comes in, it goes into ONE pile and then on processing day that big pile gets broken down into these three little piles. Every time you process your mail and other incoming paper, typically these are the three categories you’ll find:
1. Toss / shred
2. Save for future reference (file, display or scan)
3. Action (Bills, permission slips, items to review, respond, etc)
The first step in the process is always to IDENTIFY JUNK or any other non-crucial items. These things you don’t need should be pulled out and tossed / shredded in the moment. This includes catalogs!
Items to be filed, scanned or art to put on display should be PUT IN A SPOT where they can accumulate until you feel like filing, scanning or hanging them them.