Tackle your paper mess with a simple and inexpensive DIY Corkboard project! Make one or make several to streamline your paper drop system in whatever ways work for you. They look great in any room!
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If I could invent any gadget, it wouldn’t resemble Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. But it would pick up all the nudgy little bits of paper that always seem to get lost.
Lost in my purse.
Lost in the chaos on my desk in the middle of the day.
Or simply lost to the land of the missing socks better known as my washing machine.
- There are always nudgy little bits of paper that are important to hold on to.
- My fridge is already crowded with wedding invitations, family portraits, and the menu for the one place that delivers to our house in the country.
- I’m a notorious “dumper.” When I get home, everything gets dumped on our dining room table. It can wait until my dog no longer crosses his paws, whimpering to go out.
What’s the downside to being a dumper?
You can never find those nudgy little bits when you need them most.
I vowed to leave my dumping ways in the dust all because of one fateful morning a few years ago.
The Morning that Drove me Over the Edge
It’s 6:45. I’m supposed to be at the school by 7:15 by contract, but I’ve never been there later than 7 to claim my coveted front-lot parking. My lesson plans are tucked into my bag, along with the essays I stayed up until midnight grading.
I’ve turned over my coffee table, my desk, and the junk drawer in my kitchen, and I can’t find it.
The little envelope with the concert tickets for that night.
Erica’s sad sigh crosses my imagination. We’ve been looking forward to this concert in Boston (on a school night, no less) for months. I can’t let her down.
I gaze reluctantly again at the clock — 6:52 a.m. Exactly 3 minutes remain before my commute will render me tardy.
I’ve never been late for work.
I frantically search through my purse for my phone, tempted to call my department head to tell her I’m running late. Everything gets dumped out — the lesson plans, graded essays, and gradebook. I turn my purse over and dump everything on the floor, plopping next to the pile of chaos that seems to represent my life this morning.
And there it is.
That stupid, little envelope, resting on top of the mess I just made.
The Search for A “Nudgy Little Bits” Solution
Every time I get a wedding invitation, concert tickets, or fundraising flyer, I remember that morning. For years, I tried different “catch all” places for those little pieces of paper that always seem to walk off on their own just when I need them.
I tried an “inbox” by my door, but that quickly piled up and took over most of the table it rested on. Then, I tried a sorting file, like my mom used to put her coupons in before shopping day. I even tried a magnetic white board, where I could write correlating dates.
I still lost things. They got buried beneath piles of paper, or knocked off their magnets and kicked around.
It wasn’t until I was pinning “Star Pieces” of my students’ writing to the corkboard in the back of my classroom that I realized the obvious solution.
3 Reasons Why a “Catch-all” System Doesn’t Work.
Organization is not “one size fits all.” I’ve known this for years and yet I was trying to make one system work for multiple problems:
- Important, small papers like concert tickets and invitations
- Bills, mail, and other things I brought in the house at the same time
- Things I needed to sign or complete, then return in a timely manner.
My “catch-all” systems weren’t working for several reasons. I was tossing things with different purposes and importance into one system. As a result, they all got lost in the shuffle. This system failed for three fundamental reasons.
1. It discounts workflow.
Just dumping things into one place discounted each thing’s purpose and importance. Even going through the pile once a week created more work than necessary. I spent more time going through the pile looking for something I knew needed to be done than it would have taken if I’d had the time to do it when I got home.
2. It’s not actually organized.
Ultimately, my little box of mess was no better than the junk drawer in my kitchen. Sure, it was all in one place. I knew where it was. But, I didn’t at the same time. I still had to spend my time searching instead of doing.
3. I hadn’t lost the anxiety from losing things.
I still had plenty of mornings looking for that piece of paper that needed to be turned in or that date I needed to add to my calendar.
So, I put my brainstorming cap on.
I thought about what ended up in that pile. I actually sorted everything out into three categories (the ones I mentioned above). Then, for each category, I thought about a system that might work.
Cue Cork boards. Yes, you read that correctly. Boards.
How to make fun, shaped cork boards for your command center.
Call me crazy, but I hate the big, tan cork boards you can buy in the store. That tan color is hideous. Plus, I have a small amount of wall space and multiple needs. One big corkboard just wasn’t going to cut it.
I searched for fun shaped cork boards, but only came up with options that were too expensive, too big, or too boring.
I can never make things easy on myself, can I?
But, I’d seen a contractor use fiber board instead of cork for a bulletin board in the office I worked in before I left teaching to move to Maryland. And a genius idea came to mind.
What if I made my own?
Here’s what you’ll need for this easy DIY Corkboard:
- 1 2 x 4 ft sheet of ¼ inch fiberboard
- Jigsaw or Hand saw
- Large scrap pieces of fabric
- Staple Gun & Staples
- Picture Hanging Kit
The process itself was quite simple.
First, I drew out the shapes I wanted. Then, I cut them out. A jigsaw helps with more accurate cuts, especially on circular or curved shapes. But, a hand saw will do just fine if that’s all you have.
Pro tip: If you’re working on a curve with a hand saw, shave off pieces in straight lines, creating the curve gradually.
Once your shapes are ready, iron your fabric pieces and lay them on a table, pattern side down. Lay your shape over it and trim to size. Pull the fabric tight and staple to secure fabric all the way around.
Finally, follow the directions on the picture hanging kit to decorate your walls with functional cork boards!
It’s the perfect excuse to buy some fun push pins like these.
Adding Corkboards to Your System
I made multiple boards because I wanted to have at least two by the door as “catch all” places. That way, they each serve a specific purpose. I use them along with an inbox system for maximum organization.
An organization system that works always calms my anxiety.
My green board holds quick reminders and things that need to be done ASAP. It’s a great place for things that need to be signed, fundraiser info, and refill reminders. The important thing is that they are all quick turnaround items.
But my blue board is a place for things that are coming up sometime in the future or that I just don’t want to lose in the chaos of my life:
- Wedding & Other Invitations
- Concert & Event Tickets
- Reminders about anything Annual (like health physicals)
Basically anything I can’t forget about, but isn’t urgent ends up here.
Whenever I bring paper into the house (usually from the mail), those things get sorted before I sit down.
Junk mail goes immediately into the recycling. Bill reminders and anything that needs to get scanned or filed goes into my inbox. Everything else gets divided between those two boards. Things get pulled off as I need to use them and my inner organization freak does a happy dance.
It’s that simple.
From One Organizing Junkie to Another
My system isn’t perfect. I would argue that nobody’s is. I had to practice this system for weeks before it became second nature. But do you know what happened?
Things have a place as soon as they enter my home. I always know where to find concert tickets, wedding invitations, and all those other nudgy little bits.
That’s perfection enough for me.
Go out there and try your own version of this system. Switch it up and find what works for you. Make your own cork boards or buy some if you want.
Just give it 30 days.
Set reminders on your phone to do it. Repeat mantras in your head. Or, write it in big letters on your wall.
It takes at least 30 days to figure out if an organization system is working for you. And I’m telling you right now, it may fail.
But don’t give up.
Change it a little at a time, and soon your nudgy little bits will fall in line.
Get out there and find your organization bliss!
Find more organization bliss with these 5 Kitchen Organization Systems You Can Implement for FREE!
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