All those papers can totally take over your desk, counters, and tables. But seriously, how do we actually acquire so much paper? In order to combat the paper clutter, there are some systems you can put in place to help keep the paper piles at bay. No matter how you want to store your papers, I am breaking down my tips for keeping the papers organized. Plus I have some home filing system categories you can use to help you keep your paperwork in order.
Filing System In File Cabinets
The most common option for creating home filing systems is to use filing cabinets. There are many size filing cabinets. Find one that will work for your papers. But make sure that the filing cabinet isn’t too big or you will end up collecting papers you don’t need. Not sure of the size? Start with a small filing cabinet. You can always add another if you need. But when you start with a small filing cabinet, you are more likely to only keep the papers you really need to save!
Now with every filing cabinet, you need to make sure you have a visual component. That means you need some way of knowing what is inside the filing cabinet. I like using an index that I write all the files that are in the drawer and placing that on the outside or directly inside the filing cabinet.
Another thing to consider when setting up a filing cabinet is creating a process for decluttering unwanted paperwork before putting it in the filing cabinet. A lot of people have a tray for papers. I like that as a way to sort through papers before filing. Use that tray as your sorting pile. Decide what needs to be filed and what can be shredded. Keep the shredder near where your filing cabinet is to make it easy to declutter.
Home Filing System Categories
Now I also like to be systematic when creating categories for your home filing system. I start by looking at everything we typically need to keep. Then I create folders for each category. Below I have included general categories and sub-categories for the home filing system. I start by grouping the items by category. Then I subcategorize everything under each category. You can get wild and color-code each category as well. Or just stick to one color to make it easy. When you are putting the categories into your filing cabinet, you can put them away alphabetically or by how often you need them. One client kept all the medical and money files in the front of their filing cabinet. And the home and car files in the back based on how often she needed to file and find files.
Home Filing System Categories + Sub-Categories
- Individual by family member
- Real estate documents
- Receipts for major appliances
- Documents for major home improvement projects
- Documents for major home purchases
- Home owners insurance
- Renters insurance
- Any other document that relates to home
- Documents for repairs/service
- Credit cards
- Important Documents
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate
- Social security cards
- Adoption documents
- Death certificates
- Divorce decrees
- Military records
- Power of attorney
- Will and trust
- Large appliances
- Baby items
- Major purchases
Filing Papers On Desktop
While I do love an organized filing cabinet, I know that not everyone can keep up with it. So I have a few ideas for how to organize your documents by keeping organizers on your desk.
The first way to do this is use magazine holders. Each holder can be a category. And all the documents go into that holder. Label the magazine holder so you can find the category you are looking for. I like this system because it is easy to file and easy to find. The only thing is that the magazine holders can get full so you do have to declutter often.
Another way to create a home filing system is by using a filing box. This is a box that holds your files, similar to a filing cabinet. But you keep it on your desk or on a shelf. I like this because it allows you to still file papers without worrying about forgetting where you put it inside a large filing cabinet. The tricky piece with the filing box is that they usually come with a lid. And papers can easily stack on top of each other on that lid. So my solution? Remove the lid so you can easily add the papers to the proper folders. Just make sure you have a plan for decluttering papers prior to starting your filing box.
How To Keep Up With Your Home Filing System
No matter which home filing system you go with, you need to make sure you have a system for decluttering papers both before you file and after. One way I like to do that is to set a time once a year to go through all my files to shred anything that I no longer need. I also try to get as much paper as I can into digital format so I can file on my computer, making it easy to search. And I would suggest getting my free Declutter Paper Like A Pro checklist. This checklist has helped thousands of people declutter paper the easy way! Download yours now!
Want more paper clutter tips? Check out these resources:
Now it is your turn to create a home filing system that will work for you. Whether it be a filing cabinet, magazine holders, or filing box, pick one that works. Then create categories to create the files. Only file papers you need. Create a plan for decluttering papers. Get as much as you can in digital form. Then create folders on your computer to keep those documents organized. And make sure you keep it easy for yourself. No one has time for difficult paper organizing systems!