There are three categories that I think causes most of the clutter in the home, clothes (click here to see how to organize your clothes), paperwork, and toys. My organization philosophy is “everything needs to have its own place, or its own container. If it has somewhere to be stored, chances are it may eventually get back there.
Paperwork in my eyes is anything paper that comes in from the outside world and now needs to be filed away somewhere, documented somewhere, or discarded.
Many homes are designed differently. Decide where you would like your central station to store these file: home office, kitchen cabinet/drawers, desk, bedroom or a combination of rooms.
My organization tips will help you get started and don’t require you to spend too much money.
Home files (Bills, Statements, & Important Life Documents) Organization Tips
What you will need: a two to three drawer file cabinet or two to three take-along file containers, file folders with tabs (colored optional), hanging file folders, desk top file organizer, two to three coupon organizers
- Gather bills, statements and important life documents into one room.
- Sort through the files and create piles based on your categories. I suggest using a room or floor area that won’t require you to remove the piles for the length of your project. Don’t use your kitchen table or bed!
- Shred or recycle any documents that you may not need anymore (don’t throw anything away that you are unsure about.)
- Create file folders for each category and write the file name on the tab.
- Print it! Home File Categories
- Note: I use different colored file folders to group paperwork in a similar category. For example, all of my home utility bills are yellow; all of my investments/banking documents are green.
- Place the hanging files into the file cabinet or bin and organize your files by color code or ABC order, whichever works for you.
- Any home files that need to be discarded – shred it!
- Tip: I keep a paper bag (or small trash can) and add documents that need to be shredded and bring it to a local company to shred two to three times per year. Or you can buy your own shredder, but they cost more money, takes up space and I personally don’t like them with children in the house.
- Set up the desk top (or counter top) file organizer. This serves as your “to be paid/or to be researched” organizer. Going forward, as new bills, statements or life documents come in, file them in the appropriate folder if no action is needed.
- Example: automatic bill pay, or file them in the desk top organizer, so they are visible for when they need to be paid.
Receipts, Memos, and the other “Junk Drawer Papers” Organization Tips
- Keep extra file folders, which are easily accessible, for papers that you refer to more often (Example: a kitchen drawer). Suggested categories: School Memos, Take-out Menus, Phone Numbers/Addresses and Activity Info and Ideas for Kids (Like Pinterest in hard copy!).
- For store receipts – use a larger sized coupon organizer and file all store receipts.
- Suggested categories: mom and dad, kids, pets, home, gifts
- For store coupons – use a larger sized coupon organizer and file all store coupons.
- Tip: For convenience, leave in your car, so you will always have it with you. Use a smaller coupon organizer for grocery coupons and leave it inside your reusable grocery totes, so you won’t forget to take them into the market!
Kids’ School and Art Work Organization Tips
Are we supposed to keep all of our kids’ school and art work? I never know the right answer to that. Guilt? So, until I run out of space to store it, I decided to keep projects, reports, artwork, and some assignments.
Every age and school is different, but as your kids bring home completed paperwork, find a spot that works for you.
What works for me: Decorative boxes for their current school year work. At the end of each school year, I decide what I want to keep from the decorative boxes and store it in a larger plastic bin (labeled for each child), which is stored in my basement and continue to add to it each year.
Paperwork Organization Tips:
Go through the home files twice a year and discard any files that are not needed any longer or need to be updated. Consider e-statements or online bill pay with some of your billing companies to eliminate paperwork.
Sort through receipts and coupons more often since they expire (great task when waiting for your child at an activity or waiting for an appointment!)
When you receive your daily mail, discard junk mail and try to respond to invitations or appointment immediately (or add them to the desk top organizer).
I use PaperKarma, a phone app that helps remove your name from junk mail, magazines, and catalogs. It helps to get rid of extra paper coming into your house and helps save trees!
Consider a French memo board on your wall or counter to display invitations, pictures, or announcements.
Try these paperwork organization steps and see how far you can get. Remember it may take some time and some tweaks, but after you have a process in place and stick to it, your life and kitchen counter will seem less cluttered!
Feel free to add comments below or send me an email with any questions you may have!
How long should you keep personal documents? Here are some helpful websites: