The Washington Post

The organized parent:

Professional organizer Rachel Strisik organizes her "To Do" items, notes, office supplies on a desktop at her home in Bethesda, 2011. (Linda Davidson/THE WASHINGTON POST)

And I feel undeniably attached to all of it, every last scrap. Which is why I thought it was time to talk to a professional organizer. Enter: Rachel Strisik.

Mother of twins who aren’t yet in school, she had lots of good advice that I will try (try!) to weave into our lives.

First, she says, put a system into place. Make sure there is one specific place for paper that has to go back to school, one place for artwork, etc. Seems easy enough, right? Well, according to her, that does not include dumping things on the dining room table.

“It should be somewhere confined where this paper comes in that forces you to go through it so you have no choice,” she said.

Also, it would be smart if people could set aside specific time to review the stacks of paper, she said. “Make that part of your routine as a family.” My goal will be to take 15 minutes after my boys are in bed, before I do anything, to sort.

Here comes the fun part: Strisik’s ideas for the products that work best in her experience. (You can find more help from her at or

* Large desktop station (The Container Store, $24.99): “Great for organizing and categorizing incoming paper. For example, Homework, Important (Field Trip, Teacher Notes), To Review (for the other spouse) Art (paper-sized!)”

* Wire mesh wall-mount magazine rack (Pottery Barn, $29.00): “Three (or more) of these are great going up a wall for categorizing the different incoming paper. Also nice that you can see through them and label them to get everyone involved in the process.”

* Teal letter basket (Target, $4.99): “If you have the space to have a few of these lined up, they are great. They aren’t too deep so there is a natural cleaning out point!”

* Set of four magazine files (Crate & Barrel, $15.95): “Love this set as it, again, keeps paper upright.”

* Kvissle wall magazine rack (Ikea, $14.99): “Another way to keep paper off a surface but organized.”

* Letter/legal file tote (Staples, $12.99): “Portable file box for different categories of paper. Can be easily put away when guests come and you will not have papers all over the place!”

So I’ll give it a shot. And help me out: What are your paperwork practices at home?

Coming later today: Tips for organizing your children’s artwork

You might also like:

Organized parent: A myth?

Your helpful hints.

Organizing in 20 minutes

Amy Joyce is the editor and a writer for On Parenting.


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