It’s 6pm and time to clear the table for dinner. You’ve been working on an on-going project, let’s say you’re planning for an upcoming trip. You won’t have time to work on it again this week so you don’t want to file it away and forget about it. So, where does it go?
Sound familiar? What do you usually do? Leave it on the table? Get it mixed up with the pile of mail on the counter? Don’t worry if you said yes to those last two questions. We’re moving our paper party to the dance floor, aka our active paper. In other words, paper we can’t file away because we need it again soon.
In the book, Lisa Woodward creates a system to pair all the papers that relate to current projects with a weekly check-in on your projects. She calls it her Sunday Basketaka the planning basket! It is a centralized container that houses papers and piles you need soon, just not today.
But before we jump hog wild into making our planning basket, here are a few basics to get this system working for you.
Pick a day to plan your week
Plan a time to sit down, get everyone’s schedule sorted out, think about what meals would be good for which days, decide realistically what can be crossed off your to-do list this week, etc. Sunday is a good day to set aside time for planning as you start a new week. No matter what day you choose, set aside that specific time to intentionally plan how you are going to spend your time this week.
Touch every “project pocket” weekly
I referred to this in my 7 Rules of Filing. If you know you are going to sit down each week with your planning basket, it becomes a trusted place to store paper. When you sit down to plan each week, decide what projects you are working on this week and what can wait until next week. Now let’s get to work organizing our paper!
Sort by Project
Grab your piles of paper and begin to sort by type. Your projects might already be separated out from other daily paper. Be sure to collect all the random project related papers that might be sprinkled around your home. Mine are sorted into file folders on my desk.
As you sort, toss any paper (or even whole projects) that are not longer needed.
In 10 Steps to Organized Paper, Lisa recommends these slash pockets from Smead . (I found a generic version at Staples). I added my own labels (because I am obsessed with labels), but what I love is that you don’t really need labels since you can see the papers. These pockets are super easy to access which makes it perfect for projects that change quickly.
I’ve seen slash pockets used in binders, but I love how these now exist as their own little project pockets.
If you do use a Home Management Binder, these little suckers can slip right into your binder so that you have a current project right at your fingertips. Can you tell I am already smitten? I even bought a few extra packages for clients. I also found these little ditties from Martha Stewart Home Office that could also work. Martha knows her patterns.
Making your Sunday Basket
Take all your paper pockets (remember each one contains a specific project) and corral them where you plan your week. I love the idea of having the planning basket right next to the couch with the project pockets ready to be flipped through like magazines on a Sunday afternoon.
Of course, you know you don’t have to use a basket. Any container will do. It could be a magazine file box next to your well-worn favorite chair, unless sinking into your chair makes project planning feel impossible.
I plan my week at my desk, so that’s where I keep my project pockets. I have to follow one of the cardinal rules of organizing: store items where they are used. My new project pockets are great in an old Ikea magazine file and take the place of my now seemly unsightly manila folders.
Filing through out the week
As papers come in during the week, sort them right into your planning basket just as you would into your active files. If you have a task that can wait and doesn’t have to be done before your next planning day, it can go into the planning basket. Author Lisa Woodward calls her Sunday Basket, her soft to-do list.
Honestly, I wish I had thought of a basket like this when I was an elementary school teacher. It would be perfect for all those ideas, plans, and flyers you’ll need to take action on in the near future.
Now it is your turn! Do you use a system for keeping track of all the projects you are working on? Share your own system in the comments below.
*Since the Organizing your Paper party has already wrapped up; you can browse any week!
- Week 1 Taxes
- Week 2 Important docs
- Week 3 Medical Paperwork
- Week 4 Archival- Focusing on Children’s Schoolwork
- Week 5 Manuals and Warranties
- Week 6 Home Binder
- Week 7 Project Basket
- Week 8 Action Files
- Week 9 Reference Files
- Week 10 Paper Management