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5 Effective Ways to Quickly Organize Important Papers at Home

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Despite this being the “digital age,” we have more papers than ever in our homes.  Whether you have papers in the kitchen, the bedroom, or in a home office, keeping them organized is sometimes challenging.  So, what’s the best way to organize papers and documents at home?  

The perfect paper organization system will:

  1. be easy to access
  2. help you find things quickly
  3. keep papers together
  4. be portable (if needed)
  5. keep you from losing important things

Let’s take a look at various paper organizing solutions and which ones are best for different situations.

File folders in a drawer

Files & Pockets: organize papers for easy access

These are best for:

  • projects that contain relatively few papers
  • projects that need frequent, easy access

Some examples would be your current projects and bills to pay.  When deciding between pockets and files, remember that pockets are more secure for transporting papers, but files are easier to flip through.

If you use file folders to organize papers in file boxes or cabinets, you might also want to use file folder labels or hanging folders with tabs.  An easy way to keep your current folders accessible is with a file organizer that sits on your desk or hangs on the wall.

NOTE: if you can’t see any pictures with links on your phone, turn the phone sideways and reload!

2 stacked binders

Binders: organize papers in the right order

These are best for:

  • projects with more paper
  • projects that need to be kept in order and referenced
  • projects that you want to keep on shelves instead of in drawers

Some examples are an emergency home binder or a recipe binder.  If you decide to use binders, remember that there are more steps to put papers away because you must punch holes and open the binder ring.

In addition to the binders themselves, you might want to use tab dividers, page protectors, and, of course, you’ll need a 3-hole punch.  Binders can sometimes be challenging to keep upright on a shelf (especially if they are not full), so consider using a shelf organizer.

Organize papers in paper trays and cubbies

Trays & Cubbies: keep papers and objects together

These are best for:

  • projects with a lot of papers
  • projects that also have books or binders
  • projects that include non-paper objects

Some examples are

  • home school subjects (with books, binders, craft materials, etc.)
  • a project to create a recipe binder (the binder, page protectors, recipes)
  • bill paying with supplies (envelopes, stamps, pen, letter opener)

When deciding between trays and cubbies, remember that trays are open and mobile (and some can be stacked), whereas cubbies are stationary.  Trays can also be put into cubbies if you want the best of both worlds.

Organize papers in memorabilia boxes

Boxes: portable paper organization

These are best for:

  • projects that have many file folders or non-paper objects
  • projects that you need to transport frequently

Some examples are taxes, yearly school papers, or a scrapbook project.  The best thing about boxes is that they are stackable for compact storage in out-of-the-way places. They are also portable so you can move them to where you want to work.

Besides the obvious file storage boxes, you might also consider using memorabilia boxes if you need to organize papers that are more archival in nature, like letters or photos.

Organize papers in a filebox

File Cabinets: storing quantities of paper long-term

These are best for:

  • long-term, archival storage
  • vast quantities of paper that must be kept

Some examples are medical records, legal papers, and home office papers.  File cabinets are definitely not portable.  They take up a lot of space and they can become a dumping ground for papers that you probably should get rid of.  Use with caution!

There are a lot of different kinds of file cabinets ranging from the extremely industrial, 4-drawer metal file cabinet to the more decorative basket files.

Finally, don’t forget one of the most powerful paper management tools: the recycle bin (and a shredder for sensitive documents).  This tool alone can keep your paper piles to a minimum.

5 effective ways to organize paper

When you are deciding how to organize papers at home, consider how accessible the papers need to be, how many of them there are, how you will use them, and how portable they need to be.  If you need more help with organizing papers, read How to Banish Paper Piles for Good.

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