How To Organize Your Paperwork
Do you have piles of paper clutter taking over your home? Learn how to organize your paperwork with this helpful guide.
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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.
How to Organize Your Paperwork
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.
Looking for more organizing inspiration? I recommend these posts:
Bedroom Organizing Ideas That Will Work for Anyone
Organizing a Small Closet on a Budget
How to Maximize the Storage Space Under Your Bed
Declutter and Organize Your Phone
My Clutter-Free Series
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.
Archive old papers
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!
File papers immediately
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, store any receipts in the proper filing folder.
Scan and shred
If you don’t have 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!
49 thoughts on “How To Organize Your Paperwork”
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.
That’s a great idea! It’s nice having everything together and organized so you can find it right away. Thanks for sharing! ?
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
Thank you! The folder is a great idea! Thank you for sharing that tip. ?
We once burned a pile of paperwork in the backyard. It was insanely satisfying. 🙂 Have a blessed weekend!
I bet!! I have a stack of papers I need to burn. I’m oddly excited about that! 😀
Michelle, being organized certainly pays back when we can readily locate needed records.
I agree!! ? Thank you for reading! ?
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!
Yes it can! It can get so overwhelming if you just let it go. Digital files are a great idea. ?
Nice and useful tips Michelle, thanks!
Thank you so much, Arlene! ?
I like the action tray idea. I always keep to many papers. I think I have a fear about throwing stuff away.
I completely understand! I think I keep a lot of things I don’t need to when it comes to papers, too. ?
As always, great tips Michelle! We will try to use your tips between our work and travel. Happy Travels!
Thank you! ?
I REALLLYYYYYY need to do this. It’s just so daunting.
Gathering everything and organizing the first time can be so overwhelming! It gets easier afterwards, though. ?
Michelle, paper clutter is like a monster, who can eat all your time and energy. I agree with you putting and organizing them in categories make things easy. A great post as usual.
I agree! It can take over everything if you let it and become overwhelming. Thank you so much!
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!
It’s a lot easier said than done. ? Thank you for reading!
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!!
I get overwhelmed by clutter, too. ? I hope these tips help. Thank you so much for reading!
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
Hopefully this will help you get a system going so you can find your documents when you need to. ? Thank you for reading!
Great tips! Definitely being organized helps a lot ? Thank you!
Thank you so much! Being organized definitely helps keep me from feeling overwhelmed and I can find what I need right away.
This is so useful, Michelle! The paperwork on my desk has been piling up and needs to be organised. Saved + pinned.
Thank you so much! I’m glad I could help! 🙂
Thank you for these tips Michelle – I have papers literally scattered all over the house. I really need to categorise and sort. xxx
Youre welcome! I’m glad I could help! ?
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!
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!
Thank you so much!
Great tips! ?
Great tips! We need to do this!
Thank you! It makes it so much easier when you need something in an emergency.
Great post Michelle! I love how you mentioned it doesn’t all need to be done at once – good advice! Sometimes cleaning can be as overwhelming as the mess! 🙂 Thanks for the tips. Hope you have a lovely day!
Thank you so much! I’ve learned that if I get overwhelmed with something I will stop and never go back to it. 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
Thanks for sharing these useful tips. I really like your ideas for categorizing the paperwork.
I can usually find the important papers when I need to but I should review my filing cabinet, get rid of old stuff and reorganize.
Thank you! I used to keep papers for a long time before I realized I didn’t need certain items any more. Happy organizing!
I had to come back to get a copy of your tips because I am in the middle of re-organising my filing cabinet and desk.
Thanks once again for the excellent tips! 🙂
That’s great! I’m glad the tips are helping. 😀 Have fun organizing!
Thanks Michelle. ?