Friday, June 7, 2013

Paperwork Organization

Most people have all of their important paperwork where they can easily access it if/when the time comes. Well not me. When my husband and I got married and moved in together (not necessarily in that order) we just kind of threw all the 'paperwork' in a box and tossed it in the office. I am not genetically predisposed to being organized. It takes a lot of practice, persistence and discipline for me. Time after time, he'd need something for one reason or another and I knew I had seen it somewhere at some point in time, but couldn't recall it when I needed to. This resulted in a lot of frustration (in our house, it's the wife's job to be the organized one) and often times, money not well spent in late fees, etc.  I am trying to be more proactive, instead of it taking something getting to the point of making me snap that I only then do something about it. I'm a work in progress, what can I say.

Ok, back to this life changing little system here.

From this...

{via *I didn't take a before pic so, I borrowed this one. Mine was MUCH worse...}

To this!

I mentioned above that I'm not inherently organized. For me, it's a learned behavior. Well, who better to learn from than a professional? It's kind of my M.O. If I don't know something, I just do what someone that I want to emulate does. It's pretty simple, actually.

I've spent years trying to do it on my own and it just wasn't working. Time to call in reinforcements. So, I hired a professional organizer to teach me how to get it together. Best $150 I've spent. She gave me a framework in which to work from. You know the saying "teach a man to fish...", well, she 'taught me to fish'.

Items I used:

So here's how this went down.

  1. Gather up ALL random paperwork
  2. Start digging in and making piles (trash was a BIG one for us. It helped having someone who owns her own business as well, go through the tax paperwork with me. She helped me decide what to keep and what to toss)
  3. Label your piles with a sticky note so you don't get confused with what is what 
  4. Grab your file folders and label accordingly
  5. Make 'category' folders with your hanging file folders
  6. Stick your file folders in your hanging file folders
  7. Stick hanging file folders in your file box and you're done!
Here's some close ups of my categories.

It took us about 3 hours to go through 5 years of paperwork. If your counters or offices look like the 'before' picture, schedule yourself 3 hours and knock this out!

Anyone have any of their systems or tips to share?

I'll also be sharing about how I handle incoming paperwork and keep that sorted and filed. It used to accumulate on the kitchen counter and it drove me crazy(ier)!

Erin over at Sunny Side Up gives a great tutorial on how she organizes her household paper. Check it out here.


  1. Um, I kind of feel like we are living the same life. We got on that same system when we moved (almost 4 yrs ago), but it's the maintenance that does us in. Hello there, pile of papers on the stairs/desk/counter/table. Why is it always the wife's job to be organized?????

  2. OMG this post is stressing me out! Please come to Columbus and do this for me. I'll entertain all the monkeys and you organize. Oh and I'll supply the wine. xoxo

  3. Can I just say that I can relate? I also have the habit of just tossing and piling up all my papers and documents. Yikes. Organizing them into categories is really nice and I think I'm gonna do something like that too. I hope soon. Thanks for sharing. :)

    Ruby Badcoe @


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