Wednesday, February 15, 2012

142 Reader Space: Conquering Counter Clutter

Kitchen counter clutter?  If you take a closer look at it, what do you see?  Papers?  Stacks and stacks of papers?

It seems to be a epidemic sweeping across America.



Sometimes, however, the solution can be super simple and stylish.

Kate wrote:

Hi Jen,
I love your blog and read it all the time.  I'm always amazed at how much you get done and how quickly you get things done with three little boys, I have two little boys and feel like some days I am lucky to get food on the table and diapers changed. 
Anyway, I have a simple organizing idea for handling paper clutter in my home.  I've gotten great great feedback about it and wondering if you'd like to feature it. 
Thanks for your consideration!

Let's take a peek at the paper clutter that she started with:


"My oldest started school this year and I can not belieeeeve the amount of paper that is sent home with him.  Seriously, it is reedonkulous!  

All the paper he brings home needs some kind of organization.  Some of it is completed work or art that I put in a special bin in his room for keeps or on the fridge, some of it is information for me of special dates and events, some of it is homework he has to complete and take back, some of it goes straight in the garbage.
 
He brings me all this paper every day and I just start making piles, then mail starts coming in and I pitch what I can up front but the rest goes on top of the pile.   The pile keeps growing with whatever other paper stragglers make it into the kitchen and by the end of the week I have a HAAAAUUUUGE mess! 

The mess drives me nuts!  It drives the hubs, Mr. I-don't-like-anything-on-the-kitchen-counter-ever!, even nutser.  {Yes, I just made up the word nutser, but it's true} 
Although I have an office I tend to do all paper work in the kitchen.  This is where I spend 90% of my time,   I can keep an eye on the boys and get something done plus, I am too lazy to walk up the stairs.  My office/mom cave is still a work in progress so it's not a very good place to hang out right now anyway.

I decided I needed some type of filing system in the kitchen.  I have seen people with filing systems in their kitchen all over
blogland so this is not an amazing new idea.  I just tweaked it a bit to work for me. 

First, instead of a typical file box I got this super-cute lined basket at
TJ Maxx for only $7.99!  


I then found some files {TJMaxx too, I'm tellin' ya, they should pay me for all the free publicity I give 'em!}  that match perfect for $2.99 {even the plain ones cost that much!}. 


I labeled everything with skinny post-it notes that fit across the labels tab of the file folder so I will be able to re-use the files easily.  I now have a file for all appropriate school papers, household stuff, plus my decorating business with room to spare!  


And, it even looks pretty!!

When we have company or I want less on the counters {or the hub wants less on the counters} I can just take the whole basket and move it to my office revealing a clean counter... everything stays organized and in it's place. 


Why didn't I ever think of this before?!  I guess it just took getting huge amounts of paper from little guy everyday and finding a cute basket and files {I don't care how much it helped me, I wouldn't put an ugly file box on my counter every day if you paid me}."

Oh, I completely agree!  I wouldn't either Kate!

  •  It's such a simple solution to paper piles!
  • It can be kept out and still looks great.  I love when organizing mixes with style!  It will motivate Kate to keep those counters looking fab!
  • Most wouldn't think to use a basket to hold paper/files.  It's simply genius.  
  • The labels are interchangeable so the system can change and grow with her.
  • She realized that she wasn't using her office space, so she implemented her system where it makes the most sense.  It's OK to move your systems around to where they will actually be used {even if that means moving your office to the kitchen}.  If your system is out of sight or too much work to manage, then it won't be used and it will fail.
  • She didn't want to settle for a typical filing system, since so many can be so unattractive.  She found an inexpensive to give her system function and style.  

So what do you think?  Who else can use a system like this for your counter clutter?  What other ways are you tackling those paper piles, in an easy to maintain and effective way?



ATTENTION!!  Want to be featured in a Reader Space edition?  Have an awesome organizing story to share?  I am looking for projects that have made a positive impact to your life.  Please send your story and photos to iheartorganizing@gmail.com and I would heart to feature them right here, on the blog!!  Photos should be high resolution and unedited.  Please include a description of the project, including any costs, inspiration, and how it has changed your life and routine for the better!  Oh, and no worries my friends, we will NEVER judge "before" pictures because that just wouldn't be nice!  Only love goes on at this blog!  More info HERE.

142 comments:

  1. ummmm guess who's grabbing the nearest basket, dumping it of its contents and getting to work ;) haha!

    girl this is an epidemic sweeping my kitchen! for real! Love kate's solution!

    xoXOxo
    Jenn @ Peas and Crayons

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    1. So glad you like my idea. Thank you for the sweet comment! :)

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  2. I always look forward to "reader space" posts, Jen. This is one is simple and easy to implement, too.

    I like that it is pretty enough to leave out on the counter, and therefore you will probably be more apt to actually USE it!

    Bravo, Kate!

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  3. love it! and love this blog. i am so ready for some organization in my home and in my life. thanks so much!

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  4. I have no papers sitting out in the main areas of my house (the only place is in the study). How do I do this? My motivation is 16 pounds, furry, and adorable... my cat will eat any paper left out anywhere that he can get to (counters and tables included). It's really a horrible thing that I wouldn't wish on anyone (he's pulled checks from other people out of my purse to eat), but it does work. However, with no paper out for him to eat, he's taken to pulling books off the bookshelf.

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    1. When humans are anemic they will crave ice, paper, cardboard, and dirt! Is your cat anemic?

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    2. I've talked to the vet about it as well as people at a natural pet food store, and they all think he just likes doing it, and he has no medical problems. That's also supported by the fact that he only likes crunchy paper; he doesn't touch tissues, toilet paper, or paper towels.

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  5. I am totally doing this when I get home. (And- seriously- why must school send them home with so much paper! And my daughter won't let me throw out any artwork even if all it has on it is one little crayon mark.)

    If I had a dollar for everything here I pinned....

    Thanks!

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    1. I know, paper overload for these little kids! Hope this helps you. :)

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  6. Why is there so much paperwork? I have piles on top of piles on top of piles of paperwork! Where does it all come from? I print things i want to read and remember to do, then they sit in a pile of paperowrk and I never end up reading it or doing it. I am working on a solution to my paperwork clutter. Thanks for the cute idea!

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  7. Ahh! Less than an hour ago as my husband was leaving for work, I looked at our kitchen counter where I keep the household/kid paperwork and said, I've got to do something to make that look prettier. I have no other place for it, so it has to look nicer. BINGO! Thanks!

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  8. I like this idea! The only thought I have is that if it is in a folder will I forget about it and things get forgotten. I guess when the pile on the counter gets bigger and bigger I do the same thing though. I see a very near trip to TJ Maxx today maybe for a basket and folders! I have 3 children 3, 7 and 11 and school papers, mail, appointment reminders and bills, etc all pile up. I too throw away mail when it comes in that I don't need, file the bills in a file on my desk, but anything else that needs attention goes in...dum dum dum...THE PILE. I TOO have a wonderful hubby that does NOT like anything on the counters. So maybe this would just make his day!

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    1. I have one file that is the "to do" file that I look in every day so that hopefully I don't forget anything. It works better than the big pile for me. :) Good luck!!

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    2. I'm in the same boat - I have 3 kids 6, 9 and 11 and the paperwork is tremendous! My problem is..I can file papers in there, but where do they go once the files get full? Eventually it becomes stacked and disorderly again. I have a paper tray that I use, but it doesn't look half as nice as this. I would totally do this if I could actually keep it looking nice. My paper tray bowes in the middle due to the weight of all my papers and stuff on top. Does anyone have suggestions?

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  9. Great Job Kate! Looks beautiful too.

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  10. What a great job! Her before definitely looks like my counter.

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  11. My husband is the number one offender in terms of paper piles. I wonder if he would use something like this...worth a shot! Thanks for sharing :)

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  12. Love it! I'm going to go home and do the same thing right now!

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  13. This is perfect. I'm dealing with this problem right now. I come home from work to find more paper and clutter in my kitchen and on our bar area (and we have no kids. just 2 adults). This is a great solution! Now, I need help with the actually kitchen. I have collected/bought so many kitchen gadgets and small appliances that I'm running out of space in my tiny 1 bedroom apartment.

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  14. Such a great idea. I always have clutter all over my counters.

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  15. This is a wonderful idea, and it looks terrific, too. Nice job, Kate! But, as sunshinemama said, out of sight/out of mind can be an issue. If that's the case, perhaps you could put the most important papers in a file folder that's a bright color so it catches your eye when you walk past it. Then, if you want your basket to blend in with your decor when people come over, all you have to do is tuck the bright folder in the back of the basket. The only trick then is to remember to take it out again after they leave! ;)

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    1. I have one file that is the "to do" file that I look in every day so that hopefully I don't forget anything. Thanks for the compliment! :)

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  16. Great solution!!

    I have been battling this as well [3rd grader, 1st grader, and a preschooler]!

    I found my solution at TJMaxx as well! I am using a big wire file sorter than hangs on your wall. It is really cute, and looks great in my kitchen, and fits in the space provided!!

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  17. Although I have a great filing system for household paperwork AND kids' school paperwork (because I found it ALL right here on this blog already:)....there is still the daily pile that appears and has to be filed by the end of the week. LOVE this simple solution for the in-between file days. I probably won't even use files, but just throw the papers in a cute basket. So simple, it's scary.

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  18. This is exactly what I need on the kitchen desk! Such a great solution to the counter top paper clutter that also plagues our kitchen. I can only imagine how much worse it will become when my son starts preK in the fall!

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    1. Get prepared for the paper now or you'll be lost under piles after he starts school. ;)

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  19. Oh, I like this! I may have to get rid of the metal thingie that I'm not using and try this out!

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  20. Such a great idea. I will try it too.


    Nina von Ordnungsliebe

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  21. Great idea! I wish there was a picture!!

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  22. That is so pretty! I love it!

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  23. We are moving in a month, but I think once we get into the new house I am definitely doing something like this! Our counters are always like magnets for CLUTTER. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  24. Well, that does look beautiful! Wonderful idea. But, seriously? The pile of paper she started with? Not really that bad. I'd love to have a small pile like that!

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    1. My piles weren't always that small, believe me... that was a good day. :) Thanks for the compliment!

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  25. I absolutely love, love, love baskets but I hadn't thought to use them as part of a filing system. Great idea and I think I will try it for my kitchen counter that's always looking super cluttered. Thanks again for the tip.

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  26. Love, love, love this brilliant idea! What a great and stylish way to conquer the counter clutter. :)

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    1. Now if only someone could come up with a basket that will make my dirty dishes disappear ;)

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    2. Thanks for the nice compliments! If you figure out how to make your dirty dishes disappear call me!! :)

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  27. No joke....doing this fab idea when I get home! Thanks!

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  28. It really is amazing how much paperwork comes home with kids! I love how you organized it all. I definitely need to get my space together.

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  29. Great idea! I am drowning in paperwork too. I hope my TJ Maxx has something as adorable as that in stock! :)

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  30. I have been doing this for several years. I have gotten several of my friends to try it and they all loved it too. The only difference is I don't have the pretty file folders. I have the basic ones. I need to try some pretty ones.

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  31. I have done this for years. I have 5 kids and it works perfectly for me. I have gotten several friends to try and they love it too. I just have plain files vs the pretty ones. I need to get some pretty ones.

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  32. Am I the only one who thought the pile she had to start with was neat and not that cluttered looking? I am embarrased for my kitchen counter. Her before would be my after.

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    1. Believe me, I have had some much bigger piles, that was a good day. :)

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  33. Love the basket and file folder idea! It looks awesome and I love that it is portable. I agree with Lesley though. The pile really wasn't that bad....

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    1. Thank you! But really, I've had some much bigger piles, that must've been a good day. :)

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  34. I love the idea of the basket. I also like the file folders. We have more just little things I am working on for clutter around I should use a basket for that I don't know why I don't.

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  35. I love, Love, LOVE this! I hate clutter in the kitchen (well, everywhere) and we get so much paper that comes into the house every day! I am so going to do this soon! My system doesn't work very well AND it's nowhere near a decorative as Kate's. I wish my pile were as small as her's :) You can't see my countertop right now!!!

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    1. Thanks SO much! I hope my idea helps you!! PS: My piles usually aren't that small... That was a good day apparently. :)

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  36. This is a lovely solution, and I never thought of going to TJ Maxx for organizing supplies. The problem my organizing clients have is then remembering to GO THROUGH those files regularly to make sure they don't become overstuffed, upright piles! I advise them to set a reminder on their phone to go off once a week, perhaps on Sunday evening, to sit down and go through those folders.

    Thanks for sharing your inexpensive and beautiful solution!

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    1. That's a great idea Mary Jo! You can only stuff so much in those files... :)

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  37. Yep--I'm also one who thought the "before" was the "after." I can't tell you how much I wish I kept my counters like her before shot!

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    1. I promise, I have many days of bigger piles, that must've been a good day. :)

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  38. Great idea! Everything looks beter in a basket!

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  39. What an amazing idea!! I would have never thought of using a basket to store and organize the paper clutter. Thank you!!

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  40. There's one corner in my kitchen just piled with paper and random stuff...I've missed things because of this. I will definitely be taking inspiration from this post! :) Cath

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    1. That was one reason I did this, missing something important because it was stuck in a pile. Not anymore!Thank you! :)

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  41. what a great idea. I am so going to do this. we are in the middle of a move. we thought we would have been gone 5 months ago, and so I put most everything in storage, including my filing stuff. paperwork has gotten WAAAAAY out of hand. this is a perfect idea for me, right now, and when we get moved too! thanx!

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  42. Great idea. Simple, easy and looks nice. I'll definitely be considering this. Thank you!

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  43. I love love love baskets. I have started organizing more of the house since I found this blog (hubby is liking the organization, but still lost over "blogs" lol) and a lot of the time it's a basket of some sort. Just on my desk: I have a Inbox that's a basket and a little pictures/business cards/stickies skinny basket.

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  44. I loved this so much I even copied it. Slightly different take but so far we are loving it. I love that she can take it off the counter to hide it away if need be. Super cute.

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  45. I love this idea. I'm going to do this in our home office. We have a small old style metal file cabinet that I strongly dislike and never use. I'm going to find a basket and put it on the bottom book shelf for my often used files. Thanks for sharing!

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  46. Yes! Love it. I think you just helped me to figure out why I don't use my current, awesomely organized filing system. It's not pretty! No wonder I shy away from it. It's not pretty enough to be left out in the open so I keep it hidden away and then I never use it. I have about $20.00 left on a TJ Maxx gift card from my birthday this month. Now I know exactly what I'm going to do with it. Thank you!

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  47. Craziness!!! I am smack in the middle of doing this in our home. The only thing I'm adding is a space for mini clip-boards in back for each of the kids' portable chore charts.

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  48. I LOVE this idea!! It's going to be my next mini project!!

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  49. It feels so good to contain the papers. Great ideas here.

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  50. I am SO doing this....I bought some really cute file folders at Target a couple months ago in the dollar section and haven't used them yet....now to find a cute basket to put them in. I have 3 kids....2 in school and our papers and mail is getting out of control and it drives me crazy and it drives my husband even more crazy cause he can never find what he needs.
    I love your blog, by the way.....my goal this year is to be more organized and stay that way!

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  51. Love this! I actually have a basket on my kitchen counter, and it does collect papers to keep the counter mess "contained", but it's still not organized. I have been on the hunt for cute file folders. I really wish I had a Target close b/c they have the ones I want (and aren't sold online), but I will have to check out TJ Maxx.

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  52. Awesome post! I may go to TJMaxx tomorrow.... <3 those baskets!!

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  53. What a wonderful Idea! The ironic thing...I actually have this exact basket...sitting on the floor....nothing in it! That situation will be corrected in the morning! Thanks for sharing this great idea. Oh, by the way, I WISH this was all the clutter I have. My pile could eat your pile for dessert! Ha! You are way ahaed of the game. :-)

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    1. All you need are some cute file folders and you're good to go! This happened to be a "good" pile day, I have had some big ole piles too. :)

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  54. i never comment on these blog posts (altho I read them and try to get motivated...) But this is something quick and simple that will help me right away. i know what i'm doing tomorrow - THANK YOU!

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  55. Love this!! And now I get to shop for a cute basket! Double love!

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  56. Is it hard to find the right size basket? I have implemented it already when I saw it last week on your post, but I feel like my basket is too wide. The narrower ones I feel might not be tall enough. Do you think it is easy to find the right dimensios?

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  75. I am majorly battling the counter clutter - thanks so much for sharing these tips - planning to organize a system for us this weekend!

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  76. What a truly lovely idea...really didn't think about using dividers in a basket!

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  77. I am so totally going out to the shops to get me some pretty basket and file folders! Too bad here in Austrralia we do not have TJMaxx for the rescue, nor the same items at Target! :(

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  78. That is a great idea and I am implementing too, so kitchens all over america will have a basket of files-also just read a cute tip on the TIP JUNKIE (she's my idol) using clip boards ladies vertical space always good you can clip up the fridge art and change out with ease make chore charts she had 25 great ideas ck into it and thankyou for an inexpensive solution. TJ MAXX rocks along with MARSHALLS and STEINMART

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  79. How do you keep the files upright in the basket?

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  80. Elegant solution to an ugly problem. *wink.
    I love it, Kate!
    (Wait til you see my office post! I will have added this idea to my room!)
    But then again, you always have great ideas!
    HUGS and blessings!
    ~me

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  81. I love the files that you've found! So cute and very pretty! :D

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  82. I love this idea! I've been searching for an idea for organizing some of my paper stuff, and this looks like a great solution!

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  83. I like this idea! So pretty and the coordinating frames really dress it up! I have a calendar inside a cabinet and that is where ALL of the dates go. Anything I can take off a school newsletter gets rewritten there and the papers go to recycling. an envelope is taped inside for upcoming bills to pay (they get filed away here so I can grab them all in one step) appointment reminders, business cards, banking online acct #'s--this is where it all is. I use that tacky putty type stuff to quickly pin it there. When I'm done with that paper--it's outta here!...

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  84. Thank you for sharing this. I had this same idea and bought a Thirty One bag and placed it on my kitchen counter, but then I found I was just dumping everything in it. Why didn't I think to put file folders in it?? I am so glad you did! Thanks again for the idea.

    www.createyourdecor.blogspot.com

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  85. This is so simple and yet I could not have thought of organizing our papers like that. Incoming mail, my daughter's school papers, bills - everything piles up on our kitchen counter, too. I will tackle this a s soon as possible. THANKS for the inspiration.
    Jule

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  86. Love it! I totally implemented this yesterday. I have a folder for each child, a To Do folder and a To Be Filed folder. Then once a weeks I will put the papers in their permanent homes. The kids each have the school file system talked about on this blog so I will just transfer them to their files :)

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  87. what are the categories on the divider folders?

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  88. Me too Love it! I totally implemented this yesterday. and so does the http://gossipwelove.com fam!

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  89. This is EXACTLY what I need!! I've tried several systems and currently DO have an ugly three tier organizer on my counter. *ducks head in shame* I have a basket that is the perfect size sitting empty at home...off to look for pretty folders!!

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  90. I follow this blog frequently (shhh... don't tell my boss ;), but have never commented. I just HAVE to now. I have been scouring the internet, blogs and pin for mail sorting ideas. My mail/paperwork/receipts never seem to make their way into my office until they become a huge pile of unsorted chaos (i.e. - hurry, the in-laws are coming over, throw everything on the table onto the office desk and close the door!). This is such a great organization system that I can then pick up and bring right into my office to file everything. FANTASTIC!

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  91. Love this idea! How big is that basket?

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