How to Take Control of Household Papers

Keep track of all the paper that enters your house


Who would’ve thought something as simple as paper could cause so much stress in our daily lives?  We’ve got bills coming in, junk mail, school work, kids’ activity schedules, save the date cards, book order forms, party invitations, paperwork to return to school, paperwork for your taxes and other financial records, sentimental items from your kids, greeting cards, recipes you’d love to make, exercise plans you want to follow, receipts, and that’s only a small list!  

So many of my clients feel like they are drowning in paper clutter.  I used to feel that way too!

I have created a simple system to manage all these papers effortlessly.  I developed my system years ago shortly after my husband and I got married.  He’s not as organized as I am and I soon became frustrated by all the papers piling up that needed some type of action.

household papers

I call my system the Brain Basket.  

Without this basket (which functions as my second brain) I would be a complete basket case...hence the name.  I can attribute my current sanity level to this basket.  I can’t live without it and as soon as you start using this system I think you’ll agree with me!


Let me explain how the Brain Basket works.  


What to use:  

I bought a pretty basket at my favorite place--Target, of course.  I chose a longer rectangular basket so it wouldn’t stick out as far on my kitchen counter.  Any type of basket or bin will work but I love to find one that is aesthetically appealing so it matches the decor.  Don’t let deciding which basket to use hold you up on starting this process.  Just find a temporary basket and begin.


Where to keep it:  

I definitely suggest keeping your basket in or near the kitchen since that is the heart of the home and where everything enters our home.  You want to make this system as convenient as possible.

What to do with it:  

As papers enter your home put them in your Brain Basket.  It is a collection tool to gather everything that will need action steps at some point.  Also, if there is an item that needs to be repaired or batteries replaced I toss that item into my basket and it stays there until I have time to take care of it.  


My goal is to keep my mind focused on the task I’m working on and not be distracted by other to-dos. We waste too much energy task-switching so I strive to eliminate that as much as possible.  


Once the item is in the basket I can stop thinking about it because I know it is waiting for me and I won’t forget about it.  This gives me the peace of mind to keep pushing through my current task.  If an item is too large or can’t be placed in your basket then I recommend writing a note on a piece of paper and tossing that paper in the basket.  

Hello, World!

How to organize everything within the basket:  

To create an organized basket I recommend using the Avery binder pockets to keep like items together.  The pockets are transparent so you can quickly see what’s inside but nothing falls out.  You can use my affiliate link here if you’re interested:  



When to go through the basket:  

This is a crucial step in the Brain Basket system.  You must have a regular weekly appointment with yourself to go through your basket or the system won’t work.  


For me I go through my basket every Friday afternoon when I get home.  I never miss a Friday.  If you prefer another day or time during the week, go for it.  Just be consistent.  


If something comes into your home but doesn’t need to be done before your next brain basket appointment toss it in there and wait until the scheduled time.  If it needs immediate attention then go ahead and deal with it as soon as needed.  


What does the Brain Basket appointment look like? 

At your scheduled weekly appointment you empty everything out of the basket and lay it on the table.  You touch each item and ask yourself if this needs to be taken care of before your next week’s appointment.  If not, then place it back in the basket.  If it needs to be done before next appointment, take care of it now.  Do this until you’ve touched everything and nothing is left on the table.  If you have time and want to do other tasks in your basket that aren’t due before your next appointment go for it!!


Who does this system work for?

This system works for anyone who wants to leverage their time and increase their focus.  With better focus you will accomplish far more in a shorter amount of time.  Over time this will add up to reaching more and more of your goals, which means you can be as successful as you’ve always desired.  


Other tips/suggestions:  

I also set up a basket just like mine for my husband so when mail comes in that he needs to deal with I just toss it in there.  I’ve also told my husband and kids that if they need me to take care of something and it can wait til Friday they just need to put it in my basket.  


I hope this system helps keep you focused and organized during the busy weeks.  I know you’re balancing a lot and sometimes it just gets to be too much.  A good system can help eliminate so much stress.  If you are needing to increase your productivity and lower stress around your house, please comment below and I’d love to connect.