This is the second part of my series on Managing Paper. Part 1 addressed dealing with mail, how to reduce unwanted mail, and what documents to keep. Today we'll talk about all those school papers/artwork and filing.
Children’s Artwork and School Papers
First, choose a receptacle for such papers. Consider the amount of storage space you possess, as you will probably have one of these containers for each year of school. I like plastic boxes, as they protect against damage.
With your child, clean out her backpack at the end of the week. Encourage her to choose only one item a week to keep. Label the back with the date and description, and place in the container.
At the end of the month look back over the previously stored papers to see if some of the sentimentality has decreased for the earlier keepers. Repeat every month.
At the end of the school year, determine if your storage is adequate to house that year’s keepers. If not, purge until it is. Label the container with your child’s name and the year.
Artwork that doesn’t make it into the keeper file can be sent to grandma, our troops, or nursing homes.
For family night one night, take out the keepers for the last few years and reminisce.
Ideas for storing artwork:
- For large three-dimensional projects take a picture rather than storing the entire project.
- Create a gallery by hanging a cord across a wall in your child's room. Using clothespins or colorful clips, hang the latest masterpieces. Swap out as necessary.
- Picture frame storage - showcase one picture in a frame with others stored behind the latest picture. There are picture frames designed especially for this type of storage.
- Permanently frame a picture - maybe one a year.
- The typical fridge or bulletin board gallery,
- Turn your child's artwork into place mats by laminating them.
- Use your child's artwork as wrapping paper.
- Scan your child's artwork, reduce if necessary, and print onto cardstock, creating greeting cards.
- Create a collage under a glass-covered coffee table.
- Create a calendar, using a different masterpiece for each month.
- Create a collage or digital collage.
- Have several art pieces bound in a book.
- Create a scrapbook or digital scrapbook.
- Store in binders.
- Create a photo album with pictures of your child holding various pieces of artwork.
- Turn the art into charm bracelets or Christmas ornaments.
- Create a digital photoframe slideshow.
- scan and load onto disk or memory stick.
- Have your child's art displayed on a t-shirt.The following websites can be used for the above creations: Big Art Blessing, Walgreens, Snapfish, Shutterfly, York Photo, Dynamic Frame. Filing
Filing is one of my least favorite things to do! Does anyone like filing ... really? If we have to do it, here are a few tips to make it a little painful:
- Setting up and maintaining a simple, effective filing system saves an untold amount of time because you know exactly where to find items you need.
- If you are a visual person, consider using different colors of file folders for different categories. For example, use green file folders for your financial files.
- Prevent eye strain by using the same file tab for one category. For example, use the left tab on your green files for your financial files. Use the right tab on your green files for gardening ideas.
- Don't over-categorize or get too detailed - it's too much to remember. If you must have large quantities of files, make a one-page list of your files and where they are.
- Keep frequently used files within arm's length of your desk chair. Store less-used files farther away. If you must archive files for a certain number of years, consider putting them in storage.
- If reports, statements, etc. can easily be found online, don't keep paper copies.
- File ongoing projects in a hanging file. At the end of the day, deposit work into that file, clearing your desk. Make a list of projects and work to be done the next day, so they are not forgotten or overlooked.
- Keep a "pending" file for those items without closure.
- Set aside specified time to file so it doesn't get out of hand. Multi-task by filing when you are on hold or when having a casual conversation or when your brain needs a mental break.
- In order to free up space in your file cabinets, go through your files and move inactive but necessary files into storage boxes. Number or label each box and keep a list of what is in each box so you can locate it, if needed. Toss files that do not need to be kept.
Remember, 80% of what we file we never look at again. So consider carefully whether you will need to see that paper again before you file it. Reducing the amount you file reduces your work and the amount of storage you need!
More on filing:
A Very Simple Filing System for Paper and Email
The "Do It Now" Mindset
Five Ways to Prevent Procrastination from Zapping Your Energy and Productivity