Did you know that paperwork has to have a specific 'flow' in order for it to move effectively through your home and prevent paperwork build-up? It must have an entry point, a designated place to 'deal' with it, and an exit point. Paper clutter can be a huge cause of stress for many people, so if you're wanting to get your home more organised, tackling this problem area is a great first step. Here's how I did it!
When we were doing our bedroom makeover, I knew I wanted to include a filing cabinet and work out a system that would allow me to easily organise and access our important paperwork. The cabinet was originally going to be hidden away in the storage cupboard, but I really love the pop of bright colour we now have in the home office area thanks to this little beauty (from Officeworks).
The cabinet has a nice deep drawer at the bottom for holding lots of files, and 2 slim-line drawers above for stationary and other bits and pieces.
Pictured below is my old filing system - a few expandable files, and a large box that I divided into categories with cardboard. It worked well enough, but I didn't like having multiple locations for paperwork. I wanted everything in the one place, and more easily accessible.
For this paperwork overhaul, I purchased a set of colourful suspension files. The various colours are perfect for the different paperwork categories. Plus they're so much prettier than the standard office green!
The files come with a clear tab that you can easily slide along, plus inserts for labelling everything.
Now that I had all my supplies, it was time to get stuck in. I'm not going to lie, there were a million other things I would've preferred to be doing! But unfortunately sorting paperwork is just something that has to be done. Getting behind on it will catch up to you eventually and could lead to all sorts of other problems i.e. getting behind on your tax returns, misplacing important information, or having piles of paper building up around the house, causing you anxiety and stress. Not fun.
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I go through my filed paperwork once a year, at tax time. So the sorting process was boring, but not too difficult as there wasn't a massive paper build-up. I took every single paper out of its current storage place, one category at a time, and sorted through it. I got rid of what we no longer needed, and creating new categories using sticky-labels. These categories were spread out on the floor - I definitely recommend having a large, clear space in order to to sort your paperwork properly.
This was the pile to recycle at the end. We don't have a shredder, so I just rip the paper up, but if you're getting rid of a massive amount of private information, a shredder would be a worthwhile investment!
After about an hour, my piles were sorted and ready to be placed in the files - yippee! I assigned a different colour file for each 'category' i.e. yellow was house related, and had the sub-categories of house plans; house receipts; utility information; car info; and car services. I used my trusty labeller to whip up labels for each file, attached them onto the inserts provided, and slipped them into the tabs.
I created these sub-categories from my sorting process, as it became fairly obvious as I sorted the paperwork which files I would need to store the different information.
Lastly, it was time to place the files into the cabinet. The tabs slide across the top of the file, so it was easy to group the categories/colours inside the large drawer.
This filing system works perfectly with the paperwork system I have set up in the command centre for dealing with paperwork when it comes into the house, as everything has a designated place and the 'paperwork flow' is working.