House & Home, Organization

How To Organize Your Paperwork

Do you have piles of paper clutter taking over your home? Learn how to organize your paperwork with these simple to follow tips.

How to Organize Your Paperwork

It seems like the only time you think about your important documents is when you need them. Then when you need them, you can’t find them because they aren’t organized. You look at those important documents and then toss them into the other piles of paper cluttering up your kitchen table.

Does this sound like you?

Do you have papers taking over your space?

Read on to find out how to organize your paperwork.

Keeping papers organized so you can get to them when needed requires something the papers can live in and call home. A small, two-drawer filing cabinet would be great to keep your paperwork in if you have the space for it. Portable hanging file boxes also work great. They can be hidden away in a closet or put on a shelf out of the way. You will also need some type of hanging file folders to go inside the cabinet or the box. My personal favorites are the multicolored folders with tabs so I can easily see what I’m looking for.

If you don’t have a lot of paperwork to file away, then a large binder with tab dividers may be the best option for you to organize your paperwork in. I use an expanding file folder for my daughter’s homeschool papers.

See also: Declutter and Organize Your Phone

Gather Your Paperwork

Locate all the documents you have. (Easier said than done!) Check drawers, the kitchen table and countertops, your desk, bedroom dresser and nightstand, etc. Make sure to also check your wallet, pants pockets, or purse just in case you left some papers in there.

Create Space and Sort

Find a large space, such as a kitchen table or even the floor. Clear off the space so that only your important papers are there and there are no other distractions. Start sorting your papers into neat piles such as auto, medical, receipts, and so on. After sorting through the piles you should have a better idea of what you can shred or throw away.

Categorize Your Paperwork

After carefully gathering all of your papers and documents from all over the house and sorting them into piles, organize your paperwork into the following categories.

1. Home and Property Records: These include your mortgage, property deeds, property tax information, home insurance policies, home improvement projects along with their receipts, and appliance manuals and warranties.

2. Auto Records: This pile will include auto titles, loan information, insurance policies and information, maintenance records, and payment records.

3. Health Records: Here you will place insurance policies, health insurance benefits manuals, doctor bills, prescription lists, explanation of medical benefits, medical receipts, and life insurance policies.

4. Financial Records: These include your tax returns and tax deduction records, bank statements, investment records, credit card statements, and loan records.

5. Electronic Records: This pile will include cell phone contracts, cable and internet plans and bills, wireless router manual and sales receipt, and warranties and sales receipts for computers, laptops, and tablets.

6. Personal Records: Here you will place birth certificates, marriage certificate(s), divorce certificate(s), custody papers, social security information, passports, military service records, immunization records, funeral plan and burial site information, baptismal and confirmation records and any pet documents.

Tips for Organizing Paperwork

  • Be realistic about your time. This may take a while, so plan it out. You may need to take more than a day to sort and organize your paperwork if you have a lot to go through. Maybe take one day to gather all the papers and sort on another day. Then do the final organizing when you have more time. Take your time so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up.
  • Consider an archive box for older papers you are unsure if you need to hold on to. File it away in a closet for later. Google is good at helping you know if you need those papers!
  • Once papers enter your home, file them immediately or put them into an “action” tray. For example, place bills in the tray and once you have paid them place any receipts in the proper filing folder.
  • If you don’t have the space or hate hanging on to papers, scan them and save them to a hard drive, then shred all the papers. Of course you should use your best judgment with this system because some companies require the original copy of the paperwork, not a scanned copy.

Organizing Your Paperwork in the Future

Now that your important documents and paperwork are filed away nice and neat it should be easier for you to keep them this way. Each month after paying bills, file new documents in their proper folders. If for some reason you had to remove files from your system, then refile them during this time. Review your paperwork and filed documents at least twice a year to see if anything can be shredded.

Do you have a system to organize your paperwork? I’d love to know how you control your paper clutter!

Find out how to declutter and organize your home quickly with my clutter-free series!

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Organize Your Paperwork

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37 thoughts on “How To Organize Your Paperwork”

  1. Hi Michelle. Our system is set up much like you suggest. We do use a fire proof safe for filing the important things. One thing that I do when I am paying bills is record on the portion that I keep – the date it was paid, the amount paid, and the check number. Those are then filed each month and if there is ever a question of a bill not being paid it is easy to check my records.

    1. That’s a great idea! It’s nice having everything together and organized so you can find it right away. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. These are great tips Michelle! I keep a folder of all my paperwork so it is in one place. I agree with filing things immediately, otherwise it all builds up and becomes such a big task. Very useful post, thanks for sharing! <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  3. Great post! I try to minimize the amount of actual paper in my life as much as possible and keep as many digital files as I can. I know a lot of the time you can’t get away from paper sadly, and all it does is pile higher and higher! It can be so overwhelming if you just let it go for months on end!

  4. Oh, I am terrible at organising my papers! I usually do a good blitz every 1-2 months (or maye longer) reorganising in my file, and shredding things I don’t need any more. These tips are really helpful though…I really need to keep organised with it, and not just pop stuff in a pile to deal with later!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Aimsy xoxo
    https://www.aimsysantics.co.uk

  5. I am so disorganized and cluttered. I will try to put these ideas into place. Unfortunately I am also a procrastinator and get easily overwhelmed by my clutter!!

  6. I’ve fallen into an awful trap with things like this. Because most things I have don’t come with much physical paper, I don’t get much and neglect to have a system because there isn’t much to sort through. Then I can never find anything…I need to try a few of these tips! x

    Sophie

    1. Hopefully this will help you get a system going so you can find your documents when you need to. 🙂 Thank you for reading!

    1. Thank you so much! Being organized definitely helps keep me from feeling overwhelmed and I can find what I need right away.

  7. Hi Michelle,

    These are great tips for staying organized! You know where everything is and you avoid any clutter. Going to work on categorizing all the paperwork next!

    Thank you for the helpful tips!

    Sandy

    1. Thank you! It’s nice to be able to get to what you need as soon as you need it without sorting through clutter. 🙂 Thank you for reading!

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