Monday, February 14, 2011

An Organized File Box

When I thought further about my 2011 To Do List I realized that this year is all about making my house work for me instead of the other way around. I wanted to make it easy for me to maintain the house, meal plan, and not go crazy. That was a light bulb moment for me and really gave me momentum to get going.

Jen @ IHeart Organizing is having monthly challenges relating to different areas in our house and lives. What I love about Jen is how she doesn't just share what she does. She improves right along with the rest of us! If something stops working for her, she changes. Jen inspires me and my house thanks her. Her challenge for January was paper. I found her near the end of January and decided to jump right in even though I'm still working on a few aspects of her challenge.

This was definitely a good place to start as anyone who has been to my home can attest. I may not be the most cluttered house in the world but {several} stacks of paper in {several} various spots was not an uncommon sight. Is there a such thing as organized clutter? That's what it felt like to me. I usually knew what was in which stack and could find what I needed when I needed. Usually. It was still clutter.

The first thing I did was gather up everything I needed onto my dining room table (good thing we didn't have people over for a few weeks...). This included the stacks of paper, my file box, extra file folders, and music.

How did Lindey's Christmas stocking get in the stacks of paper? I'm not really sure. That really isn't all that bad. Except the box is filled with stuff too.

My original files weren't horrible. Sometimes my categories confused myself though. Really. If it's going to confuse the person it is for, something is wrong and must change. Why didn't I realize that before now? I set up this box three years ago!

I sifted through everything separating out into tentative piles different categories for files. It ended up being definitely tentative because I kept changing how I was going to file them. I pulled out everything in my current files and threw away the labels and started completely fresh.

I decided what to keep and what to shred or recycle. Old ads and coupons? Toss. Pay stubs from previous years that we've reconciled to our W2 or whatever you get for taxes? Shred. Old bank privacy statements? Toss. The shredder and I bonded. This pile does not really show how much of it there was. I got rid of a lot.

I decided that I didn't like the look of the labels and tabs that come with the hanging file folders so I used these labels instead. They are made by Avery and the top can be written on. I got them months ago as a product test but I have seen them in stores so I know it's okay for me to show them off.

I ran out of pink labels so I had to use blue. There is no other reason for the different colors.

The main categories that I settled on (after much internal debate) was the following:
bank accounts
pet information

As I put the papers into the folders, I put other file folders with sub-categories. I got all "must be aesthetically pleasing" and so I used only the middle tabbed folders (I managed to convince myself that ignoring the blue and pink mix'n'match was best). Some main categories on have one sub-category but I still gave it a manilla file folder. I don't really see the point of listing out my sub-categories but I could if someone was dying to know.

After all of that, filing all the paperwork was so easy! Can anyone explain to me that even though I will pretty much be the only one to ever touch these files, I still file them for a right handed person?

There is still plenty of room to grow. See?

Now I just need to make sure I set aside time each week to maintain this so the paper piles don't come back to haunt me.


  1. I need to do this with the papers around my house... I keep telling myself "I need a REAL file cabinet" I know it's only an excuse... but it is AN excuse... which is sometimes all you need :-)

  2. It feels so good to have papers under control. Thanks for linking to We're Organized Wednesday.