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!