Buried Alive…in Paper!

If you are joining me from Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Studies, welcome to Week Six of I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer!

I decided to high-jack the lessons for this week while Melissa, and the rest of the amazing women at Proverbs 31 Ministries, prepare for over 700 women to converge for their annual She Speaks Conference. {I hope y’all don’t mind.}

First, an Unglued giveaway!

Our sister Sharon Sloan is giving away three SIGNED copies of Lysa Terkeurst’s book Unglued which will be the next book in our study line up. I hope you will pop in on her blog this week and not only enter to win but be encouraged by her blog. Entries must be in by Thursday, the winner will be announced on Friday.

The next study will begin September 23rd, which sounds like a long way off, but be sure to order your book as soon as possible. You can also sign-up for the study on Melissa’s blog, it’s up and ready to go!

Now on to our mini-lesson!!

Chapter 13

Monday we read Chapter 13 and I don’t know about you, but I definitely needed that one! Stacks of papers are found everywhere in my home. From magazines and receipts, to random pieces of paper and notes that I just do NOT know what to do with!

Glynnis provides such simple ways to get these papers organized that I find myself thinking, “Huh…why didn’t I think of that in the first place?” Then again, organizing my clutter is not one of my strong suits. My theory for organizing papers is to throw them all in a round bin lined in plastic, which I then throw away. However…important papers tend to get tossed that way. Glynnis’ ideas are definitely a better choice…

I know there are so many projects to tackle throughout this book and there is just no way we can do them all at once, or even tackle one a week! So since, at the moment I do not have a file system set-up I am taking one baby step toward getting this paper clutter under control. I am setting up a few paper trays designated for different kinds of paper to be filed once we get organized. I am hoping that this will help reduce the visual clutter while we {my husband and I} get things set-up…whenever that may be.

One of my favorite ideas from her is to simply handle paper once pg 134. I cannot tell you how many times I have picked up a piece of paper only to put it down in another place…then repeat that process. So having these paper trays will certainly help give these things a temporary home.

First thing we’ll need to do is purchase a few paper trays or paper sized baskets. These are available almost anywhere, but Michael’s clearance baskets is always a good place to start. We live in a rather small condo and counter space is sparse, so I will most likely pick up inexpensive stackable trays from Office Depot.

Make sure that the tray or basket is big enough to hold a standard sized piece of paper which is 8.5 x 11. Then, label the trays by using an index card, little sign, or you may be lucky and find a tray with a little label in the front already. The labels I will be using are…

  • Receipts and Mail
  • Coupons and Circulars
  • Magazines and Other

I could come up with more, but for now my goal is to keep things simple and these are the things we handle daily. From here my husband and I can take the time needed to get our file cabinet set-up while still managing our day to day clutter.

How about you? Is there a little step you are taking with your paper clutter or are you working on a different organization project from the book?

Tomorrow, read chapter fourteen Taming Technology. I’ll share a few tips I’ve learned about taming technology on Thursday along with a few practical ideas from our Conference Call on Monday.

32 thoughts on “Buried Alive…in Paper!

  1. Hey there Heather, I am behind , but for the first time in a long time I have felt ok with it. Not being behind per say but not stressing over it. Now regarding the paperwork every where, I wish I could share a picture of my desk. At one point you could not see the desk or see what color it was. It is a two tear desk and every inch is now covered . We lost internet and phone a few minutes ago and when I pulled out the number for the internet/phone provider after calling I was going to find a place on my desk to put it, my husband said uh hu no way give it to me , I’ll find a place for it- if it goes on yours we’ll never find it again. Hes so right.. So I look forward to reading Ch 13. and we love you helping out.


  2. I love this chapter about paper clutter and organization. With 4 kids, all school aged thus chapter is an absolute blessing for this overwhelmed mom. I get so much thrown at me at one time its so easy for something to get misplaced or disappear forever. I will definitely be putting these practices into place before school starts back so we are ready for the new year! I think maybe 1 tray for each child?


  3. This chapter was written for me! Now I will say when I first got married my dad told me I should have a file cabinet. So I got a cheap 2 drawer file cabinet. Where was Glynnis 9 years ago? Lol! I had no idea what I was doing. Or should I say I saved a lot of unnecessary stuff that has jam packed my drawers. If I think about spacing, the size is fine…maybe this will encourage me to not hold on to everything…My 1st task would be to set up a meeting between my file cabinet and my shredder. From there I can keep it simple…


  4. I was overwhelmed with all the good ideas, too. It is nice to know that I am not the only one! Thanks for stepping in for Melissa. I love to hear what you have to say.


  5. I used to lose paperwork. For years now, every piece of mail, notes, etc. All go into our blue box at my desk. Then twice a week I sort that box. If someone needs something in between, we know it’s in the blue box. It may not be “most” efficient, but it has worked for years now.


    1. Finding what works for YOU is the most important thing!! I actually like this idea. I may have to do this for my office. My “inbox” is too small for everything that comes in during the week, so something a bit bigger may be the way to go for me!


  6. I have always had some sort of filing system but I love the idea of how she suggests subcategories! I never thought of that and it will only help to organize my system even more!


  7. what a treat, heather—you hijacking this week’s lessons! thanks for the love! i, also, love what glynnis writes about handling papers once. looking forward to ‘taming technology!’ i peeked ahead and oh! what glynnis writes is just a wee bit confronting. oh well. we’re here to change and move ahead, right? God bless you! ❤


  8. I really struggle with paper clutter at work. I end up with stuff scattered all over my desk in layers for every task I’ve done for days or even weeks at a time. I’ve tried making folders for different things I’m working on and filing them and for some reason, I just can’t make that work for me. This week, I have tried something new. I have one big wire basket on my desk. When I finish working on one thing, I gather up all the paper associated with that task, clip them together and toss them in the basket before I move on to the next task. It is quick and easy and when I need to return to that task or reference the information again, it is right at my fingertips. Right now, there are four or five little bundles of paper in the basket. I plan to go through the basket on Fridays and file things that are complete, throw away what I don’t need anymore and leave what is still pending. My desk has been clean every day when I leave and that feels so good!


    1. Christa I am with you on the filing it always starts out good but then it falls apart and I’m back to square one. Good for you with the new system you are doing. I love color coding so I color code my files/ folders on my desktop. even when I do sticky notes they are color coded with my computer files. Hoping this color coding with go far with school.


  9. Thanks for helping out this week, Heather. One project I would like to tackle this week is my children’s art work. It’s currently in a huge stack on my desk. I’ll have to pick my favorites (this will be hard) & put them in their respective binders. There were lots of great tips for all the paper that clutters my life, in chapter 13.


  10. I used to be the queen of filing papers (at work, at home,…). Something happened about 6 months ago – things started unraveling – husband’s health, marriage issues, craziness at work,…and every receipt + is now in my large laundry basket in my extra bedroom! The basket is almost full – unbelievable. So…I am going to begin “emptying it” this weekend. I know i won’t be able to get it all done (and i had said i’d do it 2 weeks ago), but i’m going to try. I need the basket for laundry and i need it to be emptied for calmness.


  11. I’m one of the chronically disorganized Glynnis refers to in her book. I’ve tried for years and years to organize. I am a champion of putting together a system, but it never sticks. Now, my husband is much more involved on the family farm and there are all kinds of important documents coming in the door and I have to figure out a system where we can keep the information the way we’re supposed to or potentially face fines if we get an audit or inspection-eeeek! This study has such amazingly wonderful timing, and I’m thinking about all the suggestions and will hopefully see a system that works for me emerge! 😀


  12. Heather, I just love your heart and passion to study God’s Word! Thanks for your wonderful insights and the link to a Sharon’s blog to win Lysa’s book. I’ve never visited Sharon’s blog before, but now am subscribed. A great discovery! Blessings!


  13. Am keeping up with the reading, but am behind on the implementation. Glad Melissa said what she did Monday night on the call. I feel a little less guilty. Thanks so much for your talk on the call as well. The “Jesus Stops” were great! There are just times when you can’t do a quiet time because the day is so busy. That’s a great solution. As far as the paper clutter, Glynnis had such good ideas! What I’m doing now is emptying the file cabinet I do have. When I remarried and moved in here, I took the cabinet as it was and haven’t purged it since. Last night I tackled my medical folder – lots of stuff from 2009 and 2010 still in there which had to be shredded. My goal is to do this folder by folder and then insert the current stuff which is sitting in a plastic storage bin under my computer desk. We’ll be away next week for five days, so I don’t know how fast this will go, but at least I can start. My biggest problem is not knowing what i can get rid of and what I must keep. Glynnis was a great help here.


  14. I have WAY too much paper sitting around our home, too!! I have implemented the “handle this once” rule with the mail I receive, and hopefully will be tackling the older piles soon. I do wonder what to do with my 3 year old’s art projects that are not flat, so they won’t fit in a book. Any ideas??

    Carissa in eastern Iowa


      1. When my kids were little, I let them each create their own “memory box” which was basically a huge white gift box left over from Christmas, that they got to hand paint and decorate. THEN, we could sweep the “must save” projects into their memory box every so often. Because I let them choose what was worthy….they were actually more scrutinizing that I would have been, and we ended up saving way fewer projects. It was interesting to me to see what they valued most, and then I was able to let go of the sentimentality for projects that they didn’t seen to care about. :o)


    1. i assume your refrigerator is already covered – or almost- with the masterpieces. We had a bay window in our living room that faced out on to the front yard. I used to tape up a few on the window, to show my kids how proud of their creativity I was. I wondered what the neighbors thought until I had one of them over to lunch and she commented about how good that was for my kids’ s4e;f-esteem. At one point when we were finishing our basement, we had unpainted walls for a time. These became a temporary gallery for the artwork. Hope this is some help.


  15. Hi, Heather. Truly enjoyed the conference call Monday. Wonderful ideas and practices shared.

    Regarding progress with handling paper, I am endeavoring to handle all items in my daily mail at the time I received them. That eliminates additional paper clutter. I also adopted Glynnis’s suggestion of having your shred container and a recycle container near my shredder. Hoping that will encourage me to shred when the container gets full. I like the idea of trays rather than files for things that need a temporary home. I had already begun a filing system with file folders in an attractive linen container for items from health insurance to charitable contributions, to prescription receipts or car info.


  16. I’m still trying to deal with the fact that I broke my shreder and I need to get a new one. We have so much paper, and I’m trying to get it under control, but then as soon as I think I do, it’s out of control again. I might try the file folders to cut the paper in piles on the desk


  17. This chapter on paper clutter was definitely much needed for me. At times, I feel so overwhelmed by all the papers I deal with at home as well as at work. One of things I am trying to implement from this chapter is a simple filing system. ( having a designated place for every piece of paper ) So far so good!


  18. This chapter really hit home. My paper clutter has been driving me crazy. I already had files set up, but they are in a room I seldom use and I guess I’m just too lazy to take the papers in there all the time. So….I set up another file that I keep handy to where I use my pc in my den. The files are kept in a little plastic tub that fits perfectly under the table next to my couch. I’ve still got a long ways to go,, but I’ve got a good start and feel some hope that I might get this monster under control finally. Yay!


  19. Oh sister, i am soo blessed by this lesson & i needed it soo much for my office. I have a paper tray on my desk but unable to classify the documents in it but after reading your post, its nolonger like before. Thanks alot for the great job you are doing to us & may God continually strengthen & enlighten u! Remain forever blessed.


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