Organizing Paperwork - Organizing Paper Clutter That's Pending So You Can Find It Later

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Organizing paper clutter that's pending is important for keeping track of those documents that you don't need to keep forever but can't get rid of yet.

This refers to papers that are relevant now but will expire or become obsolete once an event passes or someone else does their part of the required action. For instance...

  • invitations
  • concert tickets
  • travel documents

...would all fit into this category of "pending paper."

For more on organizing paper clutter that's pending, keep reading! Below you'll find a detailed system for processing this kind of paper as well as storage solutions to keep these things in sight and in mind. Enjoy!

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Organizing Paper Clutter: The System For Processing Pending Papers

1. The paper comes in through the mail or your printer or what have you, and the first thing you need to do is any required action on your part. For example, if it's an invitation then you need to decide if you are attending the event and send in the RSVP card.

2. Next, add the event to your calendar. Include any special notes or reminders for yourself. For example, if it's a wedding, you might remind yourself to bring a card and a gift.

3. Lastly, store the pending papers and any related material together in a place that you can both see and find. In other words, create a home for these pending papers that makes sense to you. Keep reading for details on how to do this!

Organizing Paper Clutter: Create A Home For Pending Papers

It's important that you create a home for these pending documents that you can see and that you can find. This touches on the "in sight, in mind" philosophy and also ensures that you can locate all supporting papers when necessary.

There are so many ways one can create a home for pending papers, so below I share with you what I personally do as well as some alternative paper organization solutions that have helped my clients.

This is what I do:

After I've completed any required action on my part, the pending paper gets immediately filed in a plastic pocket (see the below photo).

organizing paper clutter that's pending

As you can see in the above photo, this plastic pocket has concert tickets and a wedding invitation in it. It is the home for any paper related to upcoming events.

I have a different plastic pocket for each category of pending paper...

  • UPCOMING EVENTS (like in the above photo): invitations, concerts, travel arrangements, etc.
  • PERSONAL: pending paper related to my health, my dog, my family, my home, etc.
  • BUSINESS: business to do lists, things I want to research, etc.
  • RECEIPTS: receipts for things I may return, receipts for things I've given as gifts, etc.
  • COUPONS: coupons for shopping online

...and these plastic pockets are stored in a magazine file next to my desk where I can see them and reach them without getting up.

This means they are in sight and in mind all the time. As soon as an event passes or someone does their required action or what have you, I purge the paper that is no longer necessary to keep these plastic pockets to a manageable minimum.

This is what I've helped clients do:

1. Store pending papers in labeled, categorized plastic sleeves or pockets (like mine in the photos above) and then put them in a magazine file. The magazine file can live anywhere that it will be seen such as the office, the kitchen or the entryway.

2. Utilize a monthly accordion file or hanging file or paper storage box that has a folder for each month as well as each day of the current month. Using this method, organizing paper clutter that's pending is as simple as filing them in their due dates, event dates, etc.

3. Simply create labeled folders for each category of pending papers (i.e. upcoming, pending others action) and file them in the desk file drawer or nearby home office file cabinet that is used frequently. Remember, an important part of organizing paper clutter that's pending is that you can see and find these documents in a snap.

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