Incoming Paper Organization

I’m not sure if everyone has a seemingly endless amount of papers coming into their homes each week, or it’s just me. But between the teaching and the grad school and the being obsessive about taking notes… I cannot stop the paper monsoon that seems to (constantly) take over my office!
Here is just a little glimpse at this problem. Oh, did I forget to mention that I refuse to get rid of all of my old scrapbook paper because “I might need it one day”? It’s true. 
By the way, this is the pile AFTER I threw 2/3 of it in the recycling! These are the things that I actually needed or wanted to keep. 
Luckily, during my last Target binge, I bought these adorable little file folders. I only bought them because they were pretty (because, you know, that’s a valid reason to buy things) and I literally had NO purpose for them. 
Until now…

I started out by laying out my papers and dividing them into 3 major categorized piles: 
Lesson Planning, Organized Charm, and U of M
 Then, I subcategorized the big piles into 4 smaller piles. For example, I subcategorized the “Lesson Planning” pile into: Blank FormsLesson PlansOutlines, and Strategies.
Doing it this way worked out perfectly because I ended up with 12 folders and 12 stacks of papers. Everything immediately had a home and my office was looking much better! Woo!

Finally, I labeled the folders. Of course, I started out with finding a way to color code them! I just chose to draw little color-coded hearts to symbolize the big category. 

I used a Sharpie pen to label the folders. Of course, printing these out is ideal (but I’m a poor graduate student and printer ink and paper cost money). 
So here is how the final product looks!
And the chances that every paper I bring into this house falls into one of the 12 categories in this bin are astronomical. In fact, I would go as far as to say that every paper I was bringing into my office falls under one of these 12 categories. Which is just fantastic! 

I also created a little place for my most frequently used writing utensils directly next to the filing system for making notes, highlighting upcoming or past events, etc. 
I set this bin right beside my office door. When I come in from class or work, I stop here and categorize my papers right away. No more stacks of random, loose papers all over the place!
And if (when) the folders get too full, I can just transfer the papers to a 3-ring binder!

And now I don’t even cry every time I walk into my office 🙂 
How do you deal with the all of the loose papers that sneak into your home? 

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