Action File: Make A Home For School-Day Paperwork

Back-to-School Paperwork.

Back-to-school on the horizon? Here comes the paperwork! Today in the Organized Home Back-to-School Countdown, we're preparing for the paper flood ahead.

Each school day, children's backpacks grow paperwork like leaves on trees. Permission slips and lunch menus. Sports rosters and progress reports.

Keep them organized by setting up a simple filing system to track and hold school paperwork: an action file. Your filing system can be as simple as one file folder per child, or can break down paperwork into multiple categories like "Homework Assignments", "Soccer", or "Lunch Menus".

Giving paperwork an organized home means you'll never have to play "hunt the permission slip" on busy mornings!

Tame Floating Paper with an Action File

Paper piles can be pernicious--and when they start piling up on your dining room table, it's easy for important items to go missing.

At bottom? The problem is homelessness. Whether it's daily mail or children's artwork, papers that have no home will sprawl out on any space available--where they tend to reproduce like rabbits. Soon the dining room table is covered with stacks and piles of stray paperwork.

An action file creates a simple solution to the problem of homeless paper. An action file is a set of hanging file folders designed to sort and organize incoming paper, fast. Whether you clear a section of a dedicated file drawer, or invest in a simple tabletop file box, you'll want to add these folders to your action file:

  • To Do
  • To Pay
  • To Decide
  • To File

Next, add a folder for each family member, by name. The goal is to create a simple sort-and-drop destination for incoming paper.

How to use the action file? Here comes the day's mail! A couple of bills are tossed into To Pay, and an invitation requiring an RSVP lands in the To Do folder.

If you're in the market for a new mattress, that department store sale circular makes it to To Decide for further review.

A tax form from your employer is prime candidate for To File, while a card from your child's grandmother goes into the child's name file.

Home from work with a stack of papers? Same drill: file each according to whether it's something you need to do, file, or decide about.

When it's time to pay bills and handle desk work, it's easy to work file by file--and with a dedicated home, you've tamed the problem papers. Simple!

For more tips on handling household paper, try this article:

Paper Chase: The ABCs of Household Paper Management