Paper Organizing Tips

From junk mail, bills, and cards, to kid artwork, schoolwork, and other miscellaneous files, paper can be overwhelming. While technology has eased some of the physical load paper brings, it certainly cannot (and I’m not sure ever will) eliminate paper in our lives. So… what to do? 


Here’s a few tips:

  • Treat your paper piles, filing cabinet, desktops just as you would your closet.

    • Purge before organizing. This may sound painful, especially if you have a lot to go through, but it’s so important if you really want to get a handle (and more space in your house!) on your paper.

    • Going though every single piece of paper in your house may be too overwhelming right now, but in the meantime, you want to get control of what’s coming in.

  • Handle the mail every day.

    • Don’t bring the mail in until you can go through it right then.

    • Sort the papers into trash, recycle, and keep.

    • The “keep” category would include anything that requires action — bills, RSVPs — or anything you want to read — cards, newsletters. Put the “keep” mail in one place, preferably some sort of basket, bin, or box (not a pile).

  • Sort through other incoming papers daily into trash, recycle, and keep.

    • The stacks that come home from work or school can add up, so be sure what you’re deciding to not trash or recycle is truly worth keeping.

    • Encourage your kids to help choose which projects or artwork stays, and which ones to let go of.

  • Set one time a week to go through the “keep” bin.

    • Pick a time that makes the most sense for your schedule — Sunday afternoon might work for many, or maybe you have a morning or afternoon that’s typically free of other obligations. It’s all about creating new rhythms and habits to stay on top of the paper beast with a simple system.

  • Questions on how long to keep files?


The Dreaded Paper Piles

If you have paper piles everywhere, feel overwhelmed with starting a filing system, or feel like your current filing system isn't working, we have a few ideas for you...

1. Create an active set of files that are easily accessible (not in your file cabinet). Use this to keep track of the paper that come in regularly. Think school, sports, events, and other family/kid related paperwork.

2. Each year, go through your file cabinet top to bottom and shred the things that are no longer relevant or needed. If you're not sure, check this list to see what's safe to toss and what you need to keep.

3. Move things online- many services offer the option of going paperless. Take the time to switch your regular service bills to online billing methods to save paper and save space in your file cabinet.

4. Start with an efficient and organized set of tabs. Half of the battle of paper organization is figuring out how specific to be when creating labels and tabs to keep things in order.

5. Figure out what system works best for your stage in life, time, and personality. Maybe simple is best for you- try this 4 file system. There isn't an end-all-be-all best way to file, so finding a system that works for you is really important and will make all the difference in being able to stay organized.

Lastly, If you can't imagine facing the paper on your own, give us a call and we will work through it with you!