Find an easier way to fix your messy office and keep paper put away. Home office paperwork organization ideas that you can use to get the paper where it belongs instead of it cluttering your home & workspace. A super helpful tip for your home office organization.
Do you feel like you’re constantly playing catch-up when it comes to paperwork organization? If you’re like most people, your home office is a cluttered mess. You may have papers scattered across your desk, cabinets, and drawers that are crammed full, and even the floor is littered with piles of random papers and books.
The good news is, that you are not alone and the better news is it doesn’t have to continue this way. Organizing the papers can help you to create a clean home office that is more functional and less stressful turning it into a room you love to be in.
Paper is one of those things that many people struggle with. Whether you have a room that functions as your office or just an area to pay the bills papers can quickly take over an entire home. That is why creating a place for those papers to land is so important.
I learned over my clutter journey that having a drop spot for all the papers that come in (or just magically appear) daily is the key for me to keeping them contained. Not only is this helpful for controlling the clutter but it is also helpful for keeping on top of important items. Things such as bills, financial documents, invitations, or permission slips.
With just a few tips to follow you may find it easier to set up a system of your own that will keep the paper where it belongs.
Home Office Paperwork Organization Ideas
Before we get started let’s talk about your personal situation. Since all papers are not created equal you will most likely have more than one system set up for where they will go. And what you have will be different from what I have, for that reason, you will want to adjust the tips that follow so you can make a solution that fits best for you.
To start, I find it helpful to categorize the papers that are coming into a home. Think about your day-to-day and what you bring in.
- Junk Mail
- Financial Mail
- School Papers
- Appointment cards
Then you have the papers that pop up throughout the day.
- Random post-it notes
- To-Do Lists
- Shopping Lists
You do not need to make a list of what papers you have, just be aware of them so you can better create organizers you can stick with.
Create a filing system for all your paperwork
Having a good set of files is the key to you sticking with a new system. Many times people tend to overthink this part and feel the more files they have the easier it will be to use. However, I have found the opposite is true. The fewer files you have set up the easier it will be to drop those papers where they belong.
Remember, less is more when setting up a filing system.
Disclaimer: If you work from home your files may be different than those that do not. Remember to set up files that fit the papers you want to organize. There are no rules here use names on your files that make the most sense to you.
Color-code your files for easy identification
For me, I find that visual organizing is super helpful and encourages me to keep things put away. If this sounds like you then using color-coded files to streamline your drawer may be a valuable tip to use. This is especially helpful if there are multiple areas that you have papers for. When using colors to organize, keep the categories large so you are not overwhelmed when you open a drawer. Remember, less is more.
A few categories for a typical family to consider are:
- Home (utilities, mortgage, insurance, improvements)
- Vehicles (lease, car payment, maintenance)
- Medical (family, dental, eye, skin, mental)
- Money (credit card, loan, taxes)
When setting up files for a home business your files will be different, however, you will want to stick with the same tip for your categories and use color-coded files to help you quickly recognize what belongs where.
Putting it Into Action
Once you have your files set up you will need to be sure you are using them. In the beginning, you may want to set up a “To Be Filed” basket. Keep this near to where you are working so you can drop papers into it as you come across them. At the end of each day, week or month set aside time to file all of those papers at once.
Dealing with High Action Papers
There may be times that you have a paper that requires a bit of work before you can file it away. These are what I like to call Hich Action Papers. In the past, you may have let these papers get lost in the mess but from now on you will be able to deal with them in a timely matter. This is one of the amazing side effects of being organized. No more late fees, missed deadlines, or stress.
In order to be sure you are dealing with these papers you will want to have them out where you can see them. This will help you to be visually reminded of what has a deadline so you are sure to take care of the task.
A large bulletin board on the wall to pin up high actions papers will help you to see them whenever you enter the room.
A paper basket on a desk to hold papers that need to be dealt with is another great way to ensure they are always front and center.
Putting it Into Action
Once you choose the method that works best for you, you can start adding papers as they come in. You will want to train yourself to check your high action area so you are always keeping on top of the items found there.
Go through this area at the end of each day or week so you are familiarizing yourself with what is there ensuring you will get them finalized and done.
Remember when you have finished a paper in your high action area you will want to file it away or put it into your “To Be Filed” basket.
Use Binders for Files
Sometimes you will have papers that you want to refer to often making a drawer file a bit cumbersome to keep in use. For these papers, I like to use binders. I find they work great to hold a large amount and allow me to get to those papers more quickly.
Areas where binders work:
- Owner’s Manuals
Dealing With the Daily Paper Flow
To keep papers organized, having a system in place is a great start however there is more you will need to do to ensure you are dealing with papers the right way. I suggest having a day each week to go through any new papers that come into the home. You can set up a basket to toss these papers into then once a week go through what is inside of that basket dealing with each paper as you do.
This is what I like to call a weekly planning basket and it is an absolute game-changer when it comes to mail, random notes, and even papers that hit daily in the home. Adopt this one tip and you will find your paper struggle a thing of the past.
Putting it Into Action
Set aside a bit of time each week to go through your weekly planning basket. Have your calendar ready, your shopping/errand list, and post-it notes. Go through each item and either toss the junk, add it to your calendar or shopping list, or use a post-it note to add on additional tasks that need to be done. When you are finished going through each paper be sure to put them all the way away.
- Trash in the recyclables or shredder
- Coupons in your errand basket
- Dates in your calendar file
- High action items on your bulletin board or basket
- Financials in your bill paying area
Shortcuts to Have in Place
With any system, especially a new one like this, you may want to have a few shortcuts set up so it is easier for you to use it. I mentioned one earlier, a “To Be Filed” basket, and I find that is a great one to have. There are, however, a few more to have set up that you may find helpful.
- Daily Mail – A basket to put mail in is a great one to have in your kitchen, entryway, or where you tend to toss the daily mail.
- School Papers – If you have kids in a school you may want to set up a basket for everyone to toss papers in will be helpful for you as well. Be sure to go through this daily so you do not miss a permission slip.
- Bills – These are very important papers and having a dedicated basket for them may be something to consider. You can set up a basket near to where you pay the bills to toss in any items that deal with finances. This basket may be the most important to have because these papers are something that cannot be lost.
- Receipts – Another important basket to have and one that does not need a lot of room. A small basket will work just fine, be sure that it is in a place where it is easy to get to. Near where you keep your purse or on a dresser are a few examples.
Too Much Paper Bonus Tip
If you find yourself faced with too many papers and not enough room for storing them you can use a scanner to digitize important files. This will not only help you to free up space in your home office but keep those papers safe and secure.
Paperwork organization doesn’t have to be difficult, and it is definitely worth the effort to get your home office in order. These tips will help you start streamlining your paperwork and finally stop paper clutter from taking over your life. How do you organize your home office paperwork? Let us know in the comments!
Additional Help for the Office