“…make me crazy.  Run like poison in my blood.  One more night could kill me, baby.  One is one too many.  One more is never enough…”

There are SO many things that could fall into this category for me.

You know what I’m talking about.

That stuff you LOVE but isn’t necessarily the best choice for you.

  • Cheese popcorn

  • Late night Etsy shopping

  • Kid Rock video marathons

And then there are those things in life that are just…freakin’ terrible. They make you absolutely-lose-your-mind crazy.  They make you wish for a meat grinder into which to throw yourself.

  • Technical difficulties that NEVER happen when there’s a witness

  • Diarrhea on a road trip

  • Paperwork

Oh paperwork.  You just really suck, don’t ya’?

Now wayyyyy back before I was a loser, I got ya’ started on how best to handle the thorn in your side that is paperwork.  Topic numero uno was how to deal with your mail.  (If you missed that post or if you’ve forgotten it because I wrote it eons ago, here it is.  (For real, just click on the word “here“!  It’ll take ya’ right there!)

Today, we’re gonna move on to the next step.  I like to refer to it as the “What the crap are you supposed to do with the mail and other paperwork items that you need to keep and/or deal with?!”  step.

Before we get started, it’s really important to remember that this is part of a system that’ll work even when you’re lazy.  ESPECIALLY when you’re lazy. That means this system is set up so you can be successful even when you put out the least amount of effort humanly possible.  If, for some reason, you’re feeling motivated or particularly industrious, you might could skip this step.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set it up though.  Remember, we plan for lazy.  We want it to work when you have zero energy.  I promise you that you’ll encounter lazy/exhausted/downtrodden/demoralized WAY more often than you to motivated and industrious!

Whether it’s your kitchen counter, home office or a spot in your bedroom, you need to set up a sorting station.

That’s right, a SORTING STATION.

The sorting station is pretty much the missing link in most paperwork systems.  It’s where items that made it past the mail bin but still need further action go.  It pretty much replaces that pile of crap in your house.  Know which one I’m talking about?  It usually consists of bills, school papers, coupons, medical reports, warranties, manuals, receipts, invitations…You know, the one that ALLLLLMMOOOSSSTTT falls over every time you go near it. The one that you sweep into a laundry basket whenever you have company coming.  (Then you hide that basket in your closet and do your best to forget about it until you realize you need something out of it.  By the time you finally find that flexible spending receipt it looks like your entire life has exploded and there’s a brand new pile just waitin’ for the opportunity to take its place).

Here’s what you need so set up your own sorting station.  It’s SUPER simple.

  • A designated spot for the sorting station to live

  • Three to five letter trays

  • Labels for the trays

That’s it!  That’s all you need!  Now here’s how you use it!

  • The top paper tray is where your “To Do” or “actionable” items go.  Permission slips that need to be signed.  Newsletters to read.

  • The middle tray is where your “To Pay” items go along with postage, some return address labels and a few envelopes.  I know, I know. Online bill pay, right?  Well, lemme tell ya’ something.  I use online bill pay and STILL get a few paper bills! Throwing ’em in with all the other To Do items just didn’t work.  Stuff didn’t get paid and it wasn’t pretty.

  • The bottom tray is where you put anything that needs to be filed. When the tray gets full, you file.  In all honesty, I only file when the tray is full.  Or when I’m avoiding something else.  Like cleaning the bathroom.

  • Depending on what season of life you’re in, you may need an additional tray or two for kid schedules or coupons.  AND THAT’S FINE. You don’t want more than five or six trays though.  The system needs to be simple which means you wanna look at a piece of paper and immediately know which tray it goes in.

The goal of the sorting station is to have ONE designated place in your home where important “work-in-progress” paperwork lives. Paperwork that needs to be dealt with.  Paperwork that needs to be filed.  Mail that needs further attention.  Papers that wormed their way into your life through another avenue.  (Meetings, kids, spouses, shopping trips…) I promise you it will clear up those teetering piles on your counter. Or your dresser.  Or in your gym bag.

The sorting station is the second step in our “Taming the Paperwork Beast” extravaganza. The sorting station is not, however, the end-all-be-all destination for the paperwork in your life.  The final stop is your filing system.  Prepare yourself.  We’ll tackle that next week!  (Seriously, we will.   I won’t be a slacker this time!)

In the meantime, send me pics of your mail bin and sorting station!  And don’t hesitate to ask me questions.  I’d love to help!