This is a guest post by Lorie Marrero from the Clutter Diet.

Throughout the fall, it feels like we're inundated with paper. Papers that come home from school can be handled better if you think "Action, Reference, or Trash?" Remember "ART." Here's how to handle each.

Action

Action means you need to do something with the paper, like fill out a form or send a check.

  • Keep some return address labels handy to stick on for quickly filling out a form with your name and address — saves some ink, time, and hassle!
     
  • If you have multiple children who need the same form completed, fill out everything but the information that is particular to that child (name, gender, and grade, for example) and make photocopies of it. Then just write in the information for each child as required.

Reference

Reference papers mean that you need to keep them for looking up information in the future.

  • For this we recommend keeping a Family Binder where all of this information can be centralized. You can store contact information for family members and other frequently-used numbers, household maintenance information about filter changes and repairs, medical reference information, sports and activity information, and of course, all of the school policies, and the school nurse, class schedule, and bus information.
     
  • We have a free printable form called "Note To School" on our site at www.clutterdiet.com/freetips (left side of page), which we recommend printing and keeping handy in the School section of this Family Binder for quick notes to the teacher.
     
  • I recommend using Better(tm) Binders and Better(tm) Dividers from Staples because they can stand up to heavy use with reinforcement in all of the right places. When all of the family is grabbing this binder and leafing through it, you definitely need something durable.

"Mo-o-m, what's grandma's phone number?" "Mo-o-m, where is the next soccer game?" The answer will always be in the Family Binder.

Trash

Trash obviously means recycling, garbage, or shredding.

  • Make sure you do shred anything that might compromise your child's privacy or identity.
     
  • I love the Staples Mailmate M5 shredder that is small but powerful and fits on my countertop to shred things right when they come in through the back door.
     
  • If you're not sure whether to throw something away, like graded worksheets or other ambiguous papers the kids bring home, use a set of stacking trays, one for each child, as a holding place. The size of the tray serves as a cue for you — when it's full, clean it out, with your child's help if possible. In the meantime, the tray may rescue someone who thought he turned in a paper but didn't... it works very well.

 

Lorie Marrero is a Certified Professional Organizer® and the creator of ClutterDiet.com, an innovative program allowing anyone to get expert help at an affordable price, Lorie is also the bestselling author of The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life. Lorie serves as the national spokesperson for Goodwill Industries International, and her organizing books and products are sold online and in stores nationwide.