I am a natural-born organizer but if I may be truthful… I only like to do the fun organizing now that I am an adult and busy and can’t stay up until 3 a.m. every night alphabetizing my cassette tapes and CDs. So until recently, I avoided organizing my files at all costs. Oh sure, once a year at tax time I would vow to finally get it all sorted the right way (you know, the “Martha Stewart Way”). This new system would last 3 minutes and I was back to just cramming everything into a file based on whatever month I received it.
When I moved a few months ago (which always gives a fresh start to any area in need of organization in your life), I did some research online (you know, like searched Pinterest for hours) and found some methods that work for me. Perhaps the biggest change I made is that at the end of each month I go through my receipts, bills etc and scan what I need to keep onto my laptop and then shred the paper – HUGE SPACE SAVER. I use two methods of backing up my laptop so I am not worried about losing those important documents (Mac’s Time Machine and Carbonite). I also switched all of my bills to paperless if it was available – this way I can file them on my laptop without having to scan and shred.
So whether you like to make piles or files, here are some options for organizing your household paperwork that will give you peace of mind and more free time.
I use PearBudget to track my expenses and I have a small file box for my receipts that I keep on my desk. At the end of the month I review them and scan any I will need for taxes at the end of the year – the rest get shredded.
Here are some more ways to organize receipts:
Jen at I Heart Organizing always has a way of making any organization project more fun and cute to look at too!
The Pearson Familee uses separate envelopes for the stores they frequent the most.
A very inexpensive way to sort your receipts from SC Johnson!
School Paperwork Organization
I keep a large binder in the kitchen with a tab for each of my children. This is where I keep class lists, school schedules and supply lists, and anything else pertaining to their daily schedules. To save all of their school pictures, artwork, writing and report cards I use Jen’s method from I Heart Organizing.
I am bad at deciding which pieces of my children’s art to save forever, because I want to save it all! But at the end of the year, I purge their files and trim down. I also take pictures of any great pieces that are too large to save or that won’t last forever (or because there’s so much glitter on it) and I put together a photo book of their art from the year (This makes a great gift for grandparents!).
Here are a 2 more ways to store school papers:
Some tips for school work organization from Organizing Junkie.
Organize With Sandy has some great tips for scaling down the amount of school papers and artwork you keep in the house.
Organizing Household Paperwork
And the largest area of paperwork to be organized is of course all those important household and family documents. I use a small desktop file box from Target (similar to this one). I have it divided into main categories (home, medical, auto etc) and then subcategories (lease, bills, insurance etc), but as I mentioned before, most everything gets scanned into the computer.
Here are some other options for organizing important household documents:
A simple filing system from I Heart Organizing.
Detailed instructions for a household filing system from The Generous Wife.
A binder method from Apple Valley Girl.
Jenna’s alternative to the traditional filing cabinet.
Instructions on organizing computer files from Simple Mom.
Here is a good guideline for what documents you need to save and for how long.
Lastly, I think it is crucial to have a fire-safe box to store your family’s social security cards, birth certificates, passports, insurance information and phone numbers – anything you would need in an emergency.
I hope I have helped inspire you to clean up your mess of papers – unless you already have a system that works, in which case, I will probably try it, so share below!