For the paper loving + paper frustrated people in my life:
*top 5 tips for managing the paper chaos in your home*
Let's do this.
Let's just dive right into it...
I've seen it all: single life, college life, more single life, just out of college home life, apartment life, newly married condo life, new career life, old career life, renters life, living in a home on 7 acres next to mini donkeys life, renting a Dallas home built in the 1940s with ZERO storage life, and finally the home I am in now, the Texas 1960s mid-century home that has seen me at the peak of my career, change careers, grow a small business, pursue professional licensure, have babies and grow our family. PAPER has been involved in ever single one of these "lives" and it would be wasteful and remiss of me not to share a thing or two that I have learned along the way about ...
MANAGING THE PAPER CHAOS IN YOUR HOME.
#1 | DON'T GET BURIED
Some of you are like "Kristin, I'm already buried!" Yep, I get it! Been there... we'll work through that. Hang in there with me. It's really about having a system set up that is EASY and CONVENIENT, even if you're currently buried. You can start this at anytime, no matter what you're buried under.
First, keep a recycling bin or bins (or better yet COOL CONTAINERS) for your recyclables VISIBLE and CONVENIENT. If your bin is down three flights of stairs in a back alley, you're NEVER going to use it or it will be such a chore for you, it will take lots of time and planning to make it happen. That's exhausting, let's make things easier and not harder, please. This recycling task should become MINDLESS for you and hopefully EASY and FUN as you see your counters and tables stay tidy and clean.
As soon as your mail comes in, recycle what's not needed, keep a letter opener handy to sort bills / file things you need to keep, and REMEMBER TO SHRED the rest of your mail that has your name / address / and tracking numbers from shipments on them (yep, that has a direct link to your home address too).
PRACTICAL TIP IN OUR HOME:
We have both a trash can and a recycling can out in our kitchen (there is also one next to my desk in my home studio for convenience after doing test prints, reviewing receipts, etc). In our kitchen, our cans are both simple, tall white plastic cans labeled "trash" for one and "recycling" on the other. They are both visually clean, and blend in with our white walls so they don't stick out like an eye sore. BUT the most important thing is that they are HIGHLY VISIBLE and SUPER CONVENIENT and seeing it is a constant reminder to keep the paper chaos in check when the mail comes in. Even my toddler is an active part of our recycling process and helps us put paper, plastics, cardboard, etc. into the can. She can reach it, it's easy, and frankly she's helping mama and she thinks it is fun! I love this so much!
#2 | CHOOSE ONE SPOT FOR PAPER SCRAPS
OK let me be more specific: scrap paper for a grocery list or to do (better yet, to ACCOMPLISH) lists, sticky notes, extra note cards, etc.
YOU NEED TO ASK YOURSELF THIS QUESTION:
Where do you need scrap paper most? At your kitchen table because that's where you write all your lists (groceries, to do lists)? Should this be at your desk? Do you even need any of the scraps you're holding onto or could you have one notepad with a magnet on your refrigerator?
If you've decided you need something beyond the minimalist notepad on your refrigerator, then clear out a drawer in the most convenient and most frequented location possible. You can also consider an industrial metal basket for the scraps or something more decorative (like a serving tray) to fit your style to have out on a counter if you're out of drawer space, or hang a container from the wall if you're even out of counter space (we'll get to the topic of counter space in a future post).
Either way, keep your scraps in something attractive you don't mind looking at, keep in organized, keep it contained to just that spot, and add or remove things from it as needed.
PRACTICAL TIP IN OUR HOME:
Like myself, my daughter also has a scrap paper drawer of her own that is low enough that she can reach and she knows it is "just hers". She also tends to collect stickers, coloring books and other random paper scraps (sometimes mail scraps that will get recycled later that we give to her). She can go to it at any time, grab some extra paper, grab her crayons, and make whatever she wants. When the papers stack up and they've had enough "crayon time", they head to the recycling bin. Easy clean up and everyone can manage themselves. Just my style.
#3 | FIND A FREE PRINTABLE CALENDAR FOR YOUR HOME ON-LINE
Yes, the key words being FREE and PRINTABLE! Are you excited yet?! I was not a huge fan of calendars for a long time, until we owned a home and then added a baby into the mix. All the sudden there were a lot of extra appointments and dates to remember and no space in my brain for it. I'm also not a huge fan of the larger calendars that take up a ton of wall space, because I often need to move this calendar around to write things down in it in another room or possibly on the go.
So here's how I found the one I'm using now: I did a Google search for a few that were nice, then ultimately found one through a Pinterest search that was just my flavor/style if you will. Along the way I ran across several excellent and inspiring blogs, and the one that was the most my style, I decided to sign up with my email to receive their free, printable download for a very simple, minimalist calendar. I love it. It's just what I needed, nothing more. Find something that is your style and what fits your needs, and then display it however you want.
PRACTICAL TIP IN OUR HOME:
Our calendar is CLIPPED TO AN INDUSTRIAL CLIPBOARD (will set you back about $1 to $2) that sits on the buffet counter near the kitchen table, but honestly it would look great hung on a simple silver nail on the wall. I was lacking wall space so I skipped that step. The clipboard solution has been great since it is a printable calendar printed on loose pages, you can easily switch out the pages each month. I really like that it always HAS A SPOT THAT IS EASILY VISIBLE, and it is equally as PORTABLE IF NEEDED, if I want to veg out on the couch and transfer dates from my phone to the calendar. AND by the way, I need both as reminders. I have often added the wrong times for appointments into my phone, OR my phone magically deleted an appointment as a result of a software update, etc. Not OK in my book. It will remain in two places because that is what works best for us. No judgement.
#4 | EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC OF THE BIRTHDAY CALENDAR
Relax friends, I know we just talked about calendars and now you think I'm telling you to have two, but give me a moment to explain the true magic of THE BIRTHDAY CALENDAR.
But first, let's get serious. If you don't care about anyone in your life's birthdays or anniversary or you have an incredible memory and magically remember everything, then you can quit reading this section. BUT if you DO CARE, this is a paper good worth purchasing.
FIRST: You keep your birthday calendar FOREVER. YES!!! When is the last time you made a purchase like this (and only spent a mere $16 like ours)?
SECOND: It streamlines your focus to birthdays, anniversaries and special dates you want to remember throughout the year. It's not like a normal calendar
No longer will these dates get lost on your regular OR need to be transferred over and over again from your normal calendars year to year. That's right, WRITE IT DOWN ONE TIME ONLY, and you're done! Add to it each year with new friends birthdays, when new nieces and nephews are born, your best friend gets married and you want to remember to send her an anniversary card (or dare I say, only a text...cringe...hey I'm in the paper business and I'm in love with greeting cards...!).
THIRD: Check out our favorite options HERE in our shop.
We've designed 3 different styles that don't take up a lot of space and compliment different home styles / desk decor. You can pin them up, hang them, attach them easily to a magnet from the industrial-look metal clip provided, or frame it and change it out from month to month.
PRACTICAL TIP IN OUR HOME:
Our birthday calendar is attached to a magnet on our refrigerator with very few other things (yep, I'm that girl that doesn't like a lot of things on her fridge) so I can focus on just that. I absolutely love that I can get a full month's preview of everything going on and plan for mailing cards, gifts or to plan a simple phone call of acknowledgement.
All we have in this life are the relationships with the people in our life and I believe that is something worth caring for and being thoughtful about.
#5 | DECIDE WHAT PAPER ITEMS ARE MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU
I'm talking photos, prints, books, magazines, newspaper, etc. This category will really challenge you to look at all the things you own in these categories and keep what you love and recycle, sell or give away the rest.
From my personal experience out of love for all things organization + efficiency, I would challenge you to use the KonMari Method of weeding out and tidying up on this one, and for the cliff notes version of what this method is, you take all the books you own from every room in your house (for example) and bring them out and lay them on your kitchen table and review how much joy they bring you, and then from my own practical Mom advice, ask yourself how often do you look at them and/or use them (did you even know you had it and do you even care type questions).
Here's a bit more of my advice on how to manage through each category:
Also consider if you moved the item would you enjoy it and use it more. Do you read more in one spot in your living room because it's cozy and has the right lighting? Then I'd consider carving out a "book nook" of sorts to enjoy your books more.
If you only look at your business market and resource books while working in your office at your laptop, I'd move all your resource books within an arms reach of your work space so they can be easily referenced.
Be open to giving away your books freely, especially if you know someone could enjoy them or use them as a helpful resource (ie. donate to a school or charity, mail a few to a friend, send some children's books to a women and children's shelter, etc.). And if you have time and desire to sell your books, there's so many websites and apps now to help you with this.
NOW you need to repeat this concept with each of these paper good categories.
YES this will take some time.
Some advice: Focus on one group at time when you're excited and motivated to work on it. It's your own timeline and no one else's, so pace yourself as needed and complete one at a time and build yourself some confidence in the process.
The BIG GOAL in all of this is to pair down to what you love and use the most, and then move it to a location you can showcase it and enjoy it (maybe an exception being photos you'd like to store away, for example). What is life if all your favorite things are buried in clutter or hidden away so you can never enjoy them?
PRACTICAL TIP IN OUR HOME:
Our home has several variations and locations of collage walls that showcase our favorite photos, prints, quotes and fun collections of things that magically look cooler when placed together. The two largest ones we have right now are in our living room / dining space (or home is mostly open concept so the kitchen, living and dining is all one fluid concept) and one in our daughter's room. Each collection changes each year in some way, whether we switch out photos, add new prints, add artwork, or find a cool old piece at an estate sale. While they are fixed on the wall, it is very much a LIVING WALL that showcases the things we love and memories we love being reminded of, or things that make us laugh (like the photo of our baby in a jazzercise outfit for her first Halloween). In a future post we'll share more about how to actually make this collage wall without stressing out about it. Deal?
Happy weeding out + collecting what you love!
Friends, if there was a particular category we discussed that you have more questions on or would love to hear more about, send us an email (click on the little envelope icon below) or message us through our INFO page and tell us more about what you'd like to see/hear more on! We absolutely love your feedback and input on what is VALUABLE and HELPFUL to YOU!