My only resolution this year was to get– and KEEP– control of the paper mountain that accumulates in my kitchen.  I don’t have a designated desk in the house, so piles of bills, kid’s school paperwork, and interesting recipes tend to pile up on my kitchen island and next to my computer on the kitchen table.  I’ve tried various organizational techniques throughout the years, but these piles seem to be tenacious!


I saw an organizer on tv the other day which seems promising:  it’s a big “blanket” (not really, but that’s the only way I can give you a quick visual) with 9 pockets or straps for keeping paperwork together.  When you need it, you unfold it (which assumes that you have enough clear space to unfold the thing), when you are finished, you fold it up and tuck it in a drawer.  The reviews on Amazon were uniformly crummy due to the construction quality, but I wonder if this isn’t a good diy project.

More importantly, if I build it, would I use it?  Or would I resort back to the piles?

I read an organization book (trying to get tips to help my hopelessly disorganized son) and learned that some people (me as well as DS) work better with horizontally sorted paperwork, as opposed to the more universally useful vertically stored paperwork.  If you are reading my blog, you are probably a horizontal-storage type person; it is more predominant in artistic people.

I have a shallow space for a desk, but it is out in the open– i.e. in my living room/kitchen area.  I bought one of those desks which folds down to provide a writing area– score!  always a clear writing surface– and folds back up to hide the piles– score!  However, the storage is so shallow that I can’t put my laptop inside, nor can I really store much beyond paperclips and a few pens…and a pile of paper that needs to be gone thru, now that I look at it!  The desk, in retrospect, was a good idea in theory, but the space was so shallow that the desk which fits isn’t all that useful, beyond the drawers underneath which are useful.  So the desk stays, as do my problematic piles.


I have some ideas for myself, and though this post is getting really long-winded, I thought I would keep you for a few more minutes while I share my ideas.  Who knows– maybe you’ll find my ideas useful, or you’ll have new better ideas (SHARE!!) or you’ll write to me and help me figure out this issue!

First, I think that the pile to the right of my computer is here to stay.  It’s the only place I have for “business”.  To make it more manageable, I’m thinking of re-purposing the vertical file holder that currently gets used for envelope storage (what a silly use!!)  I think I would feel less chaotic with a cleaner storage solution, and the verticality would take up less space on my table.  I’ll check in with you and let you know if this works for me.

Second, I took over a shallow but large drawer in my kitchen island to hide some of the clutter.  The clutter on the island drives DH crazy– and I see his point.  My house has an open floor plan, so when you walk into the house and look through the living area to the kitchen, that edge of the island is the first thing you see.  Short of putting a nice red bow on the pile…. I sweep it into the drawer.  In going through the drawer, I see that much of the paperwork consists of cooking magazines and a few files full of clipped recipes.  Since that’s counter-productive (I punned!!) I decided to order some of those sticky backed photo pages to hold the recipes in a binder.  I can still use the drawer, but perhaps you all can help me figure out how to use the drawer better!  Hmmm.  More food (I punned again!) for thought over the next few weeks….

OK.  I’ll let you go.  I took the month off from quilting for customers so that I could concentrate on my family over the holidays.  It was the first time in 7 years that I not only scheduled the break but actually stuck to my guns and kept the break cleared of last-minute quilting!  It was wonderful, and I spent some of the time working on my own little projects.  Photos and sharing to come!



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4 responses to “2011

  1. I pile paper everywhere. It just seems to be my way because I’ve tried everything to change my habits and it doesn’t work.

  2. Working Yarn

    Four years ago, I finally discovered a very simple product. Although mine are not this brand, here’s an example of a monthly bill organizer/folder: http://www.amazon.com/MeadWestern-Home-Finances-Organizer/dp/B001BIVJI2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294163399&sr=8-1.

    It helps tremendously when keeping track of bills. Unpaid bills go in the front zipper pocket. Paid bills are recorded and filed in each month’s folder. Tax information is filed in the back pocket. I now have three of these folders (not this brand), stored on a shelf and I can refer back to if needed. I know this only addresses one little piece of the paper/clutter issue, but it truly helped me when it came to financial paperwork.

    With receipts, I have a clunky but reliable system. Each year, I label a new shoebox with the year and the word RECEIPTS. Every so often (meaning as soon as my wallet is overflowing), receipts are dumped into the box. At the end of the year, the box is taped up and placed on a shelf in a closet. Someday, I’ll research how long to hold onto this type of paperwork.

    The thing that helped with other type of paper (junk mail, catalogs, flyers, etc.), was having a post office box. I can sort/recycle all the junk and even envelopes right there. If I didn’t have a PO box, I would probably keep a bin just for paper recycling somewhere in my house or garage. I do hold onto things like credit card applications and shred them at home.

    You know what? I didn’t even realize I had “conquered” my paper problem until I wrote this comment. Best of luck with your resolution!

  3. Once the kids are grown, a lot of the paperwork magically disappears. Paying bills online got rid of a ton of paper. Now the majority of paper is in my studio which is generally a wreck anyways! 🙂

  4. Lois

    Funny I should run across this because I could have written it myself,it is so familiar. I know that folding organizer you are referring to on TV, but I assumed it would be a cheap piece of junk. Before I saw it, I had decided to make myself something similar that could fold up and hang on a hook behind my bedroom door. It would be secure and out of sight.
    I also have an open plan so had finally gotten away from keeping a pile a paper in the kitchen like I used to. Now, I just transfer the pile to a desk in a spare bedroom. But being that is a larger horizontal space, I just keep on piling it up till I can’t find anything. I would really like to rescue this room to be used as a guest toom. Like you, the clutter mess is not really bills,although I can easily loose something in the mess, like my checkbook. Paying bills online as they come in and helped a lot. I used to think I needed more space but realize now that is just a nother way to add more stuff.

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