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Six Tips For New Sunday Basket Owners

If you are reading this post, then you most likely have purchased a Sunday Basket from Organize 365. Congratulations! You are on your way to get your paper, your calendar, and your life on track. It just may not feel that way. You may very well feel confused, stuck, or frustrated with your Sunday Basket and perhaps have even started calling it the “Someday Basket” or the “Paper Junk Drawer.” 

The Sunday Basket System is a great tool for getting you organized, but so often I have clients who are simply frustrated with getting their box working for them and their families. While you can certainly set up a one-on-one call to customize your box with me or attend one of my Paper & Planning Sessions on Tuesdays, I understand you may be leery to invest any more money into this system. Therefore, I am going to give you some of my top tips for new Sunday Basket owners in this blog post. Please note, all opinions expressed in this post are from my own thoughts and beliefs, and do not represent or reflect Organize 365 or Lisa Woodruff. 

Tip 1: Have a Realistic Timeline

The Sunday Basket System takes at least six weeks before you will see the true results. The first few weeks you may find the papers you need faster, but you are bogged down with learning a new system, changing your habits of where you store ideas and physical papers, and you likely have a list of to-dos and a pile of paper backlogged in your home. 

Allow yourself at least 90 minutes to go through your basket (hint it does not need to be on a Sunday either) and then schedule at least one hour to go through the backlog of papers and action items. This can be on Sunday or broken down over the course of the week. Do this for the first six weeks and you soon will have your Sunday Basket caught-up and working for you. 

Tip 2: Don’t Fill Out All The Slash Pockets

It is so tempting to want to rip open the packaging, watch all the training videos, and then map out all of your 2.0 slash pockets. I caution you to not do this! Instead open the Sunday Basket, set up the 1.0 pockets (these are the primary color), watch the training video for this section, and then stop. Yes stop! Only use a 2.0 slash pocket if you find in your basket sorting that you have a lot of papers related to a topic and you need to do something with it. Right now, in the United States, we have a lot of tax documents coming in. It’s okay to make a “2020 Tax” slash pocket. 

What I don’t want you to do is feel the need to label and use all 25 slash pockets or to map out what you think your slash pockets should be. Let your paper tell you what slash pockets to create in the first six weeks. After six weeks you will be able to “level-up” and start adding in goal-based 2.0 papers. 

Here’s why. If you start with your 2.0s all labelled based on your goals or what you think should be in your basket, you may find you have a bunch of papers related to topics you did not initially pick. You obviously have an interest or need for these papers as they are in your Sunday Basket, but now instead of moving on you are weighing the decision of which slash pocket to repurpose or you may put the paper aside meaning your basket now does not have all your actionable paper defeating the purpose. The other downside of using all your 2.0 folders early is that you feel you need to fill them. Maybe you only have one big personal goal you are working on in the next three months, but because you have five pink slash pockets you are now subconsciously trying to find papers to fill in pockets so you may clip a magazine article simply to fill your slash pocket.

This approach reflects the original Sunday Basket Journey. As with any great wisdom this story starts with “Back in the old days…”. Back when Lisa was starting her paper organizing journey she was overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork (largely caused by her kids’ medical needs) and one night she started to just sort all the paper. Then over time she started to use slash pockets to basically create the 1.0 Slash Pocket Systems. It wasn’t until the paper and her family were under control that she could really start adding in the 2.0 slash pockets which are goal based. Fast forward to the original Sunday Baket trainings, and we all followed the same steps of getting all our papers and creating the 1.0 pockets. In my case, this was before the physical product existed, but even once the physical product was on the market, I believe, it was a year before we had 2.0 slash pockets. 

I want you to have this same experience. I want you to focus on just getting through your paper clutter, gathering all your actionable items into one place, and then becoming a pro at sorting your paper and scheduling your week before you add on 2.0s. Then when you add on the 2.0s, take your time and only use as many slash pockets as you truly need. 

Tip 3: Don’t Attend the Sunday Basket Club for At Least Two Weeks 

Imagine you decided that this year you were going to take up outdoor cycling. You have the knowledge of what it takes to cycle and you have purchased all your equipment. Finally, your bike arrives! Do you take it in the wrapper to a local bike ride meet-up or do you test it out and make the initial adjustments that are right for you first?

Similar to biking, I don’t recommend you take your new Sunday Basket to the Sunday Basket Club in the first couple of weeks. The Sunday Basket Club is a wonderful tool to provide accountability and fellowship, but it is not a training resource for how to set-up your basket. That information is on the dashboard. Instead of attending the workshop, what I would do is take the first week and gather all your papers that are lying around or are actionable then sort through these papers–obviously paying any bills or addressing items that will be due in the next week. The second week (or whenever your basket arrives) set up the 1.0 slash pockets and then try to run through your basket using the guidance from the dashboard. 

You know your needs and your paper the best. If you go too early to the Sunday Basket Club, you are either going to get distracted and not get much work done or you are going to pick up thoughts and ideas that are not at your level. For example, a client recently told me they started a binder slash pocket because they heard the idea in the Sunday Basket Club. A binder slash pocket is basically a “To Be Filed” pocket but for the Organize 365 binders. This is a great idea in itself, the problem is this client just received her binders and did not have them set up. She therefore had a slash pocket of jumbled medical, financial, and household papers stuffed into one slash pocket with no way to move those papers out of the slash pocket and into a reference binder in the immediate future. 

By focusing on creating your basic basket first, you will make the most of the time you set aside for your Sunday Basket and you will be able to focus on what will work for you and your family. 

Tip 4: Feel Free to Bend the “Rules”

I know some of us are more rule followers than others, and that’s okay. When you are trying something new it does help to have rules and guidance which is why there are so many “rules” to the Sunday Basket. I propose you look at the “rules” as suggestions instead of absolutes. Here are some of the rules that I think are okay to bend for you and your family: 

  • Sunday Baskets should be kept in the kitchen. This idea is assuming your paper clutter is in your kitchen because it is the hub of your home. If you have a different layout or are a messy cook, it’s okay to keep your basket in your office/living space/etc. In my house my basket is in my office, and we have designated drop baskets (almost like satellite Sunday Basket locations) by the main entry ways where I collect the paper each week when I start by Sunday Basket sort.
  • Only actionable paper can be in the Sunday Basket. Now this rule is tricky because the Sunday Basket is not a filing cabinet (and yes you will still need a small filing cabinet even with all the products), but the term “actionable paper” can be misinterpreted. For example, if you love gardening this may be a slash pocket in your box because you have plans and seed catalogues and articles about gardening even though you are only taking action on them for a few months out of the year. The fact that all that paper is continually coming into your home makes it an actionable slash pocket. Another example is tax documents. We collect tax information all year so I always have a green Tax Slash pocket in my Sunday Basket. I don’t need to go through these papers, but I do like to have the information readily available. I also have a “File Pile” folder for items that I want to keep in our long-term filing but to be honest I am too lazy to file them every week so when the slash pocket is full I take it and file everything until it all lives happily in my box.
  • You have to go through your baskets on Sunday-You don’t! Lisa needed a name for her box and because she went through her papers on Sunday she picked Sunday. You can do your “Sunday Basket” any day of the week. I actually prefer Saturday in the early morning because I have all weekend to get my errands and to-do list items checked off. I also have a back-up time on Tuesdays (during the Paper & Planning) for when I am traveling or have a hectic weekend. The rule is to have a designated time, the suggestion is that that time is Sunday afternoon.
  • You have to wait until Sunday to go through your papers. I have no problem waiting, but I also organize papers for a living. If not knowing what was in today’s mail makes you anxious or if your overflowing Sunday Basket causes you to not even want to start going through it, then you need to tweak the system. The time-saving part of the Sunday Basket is that you know where all your papers are and you take action at one time. It is okay to do a quick sort of your mail on the way in and recycle the junk as long as all the important mail that can wait makes it to the Sunday Basket. 

I do recommend you follow these two rules, at least initially. If items can wait until you sort your basket on Sunday, then keep the items in the basket. You will save so much more time then tackling to-do list items as they come your way. Second, keep to the slash pocket colors as much as possible so you have that common language when you listen to podcasts, read posts, or are in the live workshops. 

Tip 5: Keep Your Current Paper System

Before you purchased your Sunday Basket you likely had a system for your papers. It may not have worked the best, but was something. As you start your Sunday Basket do not feel like you have to get rid of your old system entirely. You will, over time, gradually fade out the parts of your old system that did not work, but initially you do not want to create too much change or extra work for yourself. 

I recommend reflecting on what is working in your current system. For example, do you like to write on sticky notes and you always know where your sticky notes are? Then, keep writing on them versus moving straight to index cards. If you use your phone or have an online bill pay, keep it but also add a note that will live in your Sunday Basket to remind you to check these locations during your initial sort. Also, do not pull any archived paper out of your filing cabinets, banker boxes, etc. Focus solely on getting your actionable and recent papers organized with the Sunday Basket system and then after about six weeks decide what additional paper products you are going to address. 

Tip 6: Keep your expectations in check

The Sunday Basket is a wonderful tool, but it’s for managing actionable papers in your home. I often see people add in slash pockets for work, large projects, or other family member’s projects. While you can have a slash pocket for a side gig that you have (say Rover or Instacart) you cannot run your entire small business from this basket. Likewise, if you are taking college courses, remodeling your home, job hunting, home schooling, etc. you will need to separate these materials from your primary Sunday Basket. 

If you have any of these issues, it may be because you have too many items in your Sunday Basket: 

  • It’s impossible to regularly sort the front part of the basket in under 30 minutes 
  • Your items are consistently overflowing the box-especially if most of it is paper
  • You feel like you are mentally shifting from home to ____ when processing your basket

The good news is that in most cases, you can use your knowledge of the Sunday Basket System to set up additional Sunday Baskets for large projects, work, etc. This does not mean you need to order an official Sunday Basket, you can definitely use office supplies around your home and then decide if you need extra slash pockets or if you would like an extra basket to have a matching set. What you must do is, you must set a standard time to go through this additional Sunday Basket. Just like you have a weekly time for your home basket, you need a weekly time for the additional Sunday Basket as well.

I hope these tips help in setting up your Sunday Basket. If you would like additional help, please feel free to schedule a call or join us for a Paper & Planning Tuesday session. 

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