After sharing my super awesome studio closet and how much it packs, I wanted to take it down a bit to tell you all about one of the little gems that has worked for us for years. It’s a super easy concept and helps keep incoming paper under control while making it a piece of cake to stay current.

It’s called the “once a week basket”. Simple and to the point.

Here’s how it works:

  • Find a basket. Or a bin. Or a container of your choice – Whatever works. I use a tray, but it’s like a basket for incoming papers, so that’s why I call it a basket. Note – I use the top tray, Darren uses the middle, and the bottom is for scrap paper.
  • Plan a day each week to go through your basket. Keep it the same day each week to make things easier on you.
  • Put all your incoming papers in the basket that can wait until your regular day. Lots of times I just throw whole pieces of mail without even opening it. Of course, if it’s trash, I skip the basket all together and head straight to the recycle bin.
  • On your chosen day pull everything out and handle it all at one time. File what needs filing, pay what needs paying, respond to what needs responding to, act on what needs acting on.
  • Return anything that may need to wait for action on.
  • Repeat the next week.

My day is Monday. I start work later that day, so it is my morning to get household stuff done, like updating the budget, paying bills, going through the basket. I grab everything out and make a few quick piles – do something with it now, file it, put it on the calendar, trash it, you get the idea – and then get to work. This really takes only a few minutes and I never spend more than maybe 20 minutes tops on this.

I have to say also that I have reduced the number of papers coming into our house significantly. Most of our utilities and bills are done online. We don’t have kiddos bringing school papers home. I’ve cancelled a lot of direct marketing that usually comes in the mail. I don’t save receipts for everyday things. This is that minimizing before organizing principle strong at work. 

I must warn you – To keep this the most useful and most effective system, you have to be diligent. You will miss things if you don’t go through it each week. I’ve been there. But seriously, spending 20 minutes each week on a regular basis to keep the paperwork under control and your life much smoother is super worth it. It’s not complicated. It’s one of those small simple things that make a huge difference. 

Who doesn’t want to be the boss of the papers coming into their home? 

Let me know if you do this and how it works for you!

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