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Home Office Organizing: How to Deal with Paper Clutter

One of the most important items to get organized in a home is paperwork and other home office related items. Why? Paperwork is consistently sifting through the house that needs to be dealt with in a timely matter in order to not only avoid clutter build-up, but from causing a mess in other areas of your life.

As a home stager, I’ve seen paperwork piled high on entry surfaces, kitchen corners even burying desks. Paperwork left alone for even a week or two while on vacation can get out of control in the busiest of homes. This is an issue for many homeowners including a few seeking to find a better solution.

Both Youtube fans have common dilemmas among any adult, no one ever tells you about all the paperwork you have to deal with as you grow old. Insurance policies, mortgage statements, financials, junk mail, school stuff…the list is endless I’m sure! But, don’t let that overwhelm you.

Here are a few solutions you can use whether you’re a stay at home mom, an entrepreneur who works from home, 9 to 5’er or a major workaholic.

I became a bit obsessed about having an organized office after Superstorm Sandy flooded our home in 2012. But, to be honest even though it looks neat and organized beneath the surface paperwork still lurks. Let’s address bizybee65’s issue about dealing with paperwork.

Daily Handling

Whether you like it or not paperwork arrives in your mailbox everyday. Don’t just drop it off when entering the home take a few minutes to immediately go through the pile. Quickly determine whether the item needs to be:

  • Tossed – junk mail, subscriptions and other paperwork to get discarded.
  • Filed – paperwork you may need, file away.
  • Take Action – paperwork that needs your attention.

Now, when you’re sorting don’t agonize over the decisions. It should be simple to determine what stays and what goes, the problems arise when determining what to do with the papers staying

Take Action Basket

Put action items all together in a pile, a basket or a file –anyplace where you can easily check back regularly to take action when you have more time. Whether it’s bills, following up with phone calls, signing permission slips you want to keep these items front and center so you don’t miss a payment, deadline or opportunity that could alter your life. Depending on your (and/or your family’s) needs you can check the action basket daily, weekly or monthly.

When going through the items in the action pile, write on each piece of paper the very next action that is required, make it specific and deadline oriented. For example, “left message, try again Monday” then move the document to a place where you think will prompt you to take the next action.

TORI’S TIP: Creating the system is the hardest part, once you have a plan in place digging out of the paper clutter may take some time, but when you’re finished you’ll have a system in place to keep you from drowning in paperwork.


Filing Important Documents

In our home office we’ve chosen a few different filing systems to house paperwork. We have a file cabinet to hold important office paperwork that deals with clients. There are also, file boxes being used to store our personal paperwork, along with our company’s paperwork (separate of course.) For programs, courses, directories or projects we’re working on we use a binder system.

Chose a filing system that fits your needs and personality, maybe you need a color-coded system:

  • Yellow – House – Store all house-related information such as maintenance, pest control, security system, handyman info.
  • Green – Financial – This category can hold mortgage statements, credit card bills, stocks, auto loans, etc.
  • Red – Medical – Hold your doctor info., medical records, vet bills and records anything that deals with health put in a red folder.
  • Blue – Insurance – This can be auto, health and home insurance.
  • Orange – Personal – Anything else that may be happening in your life.

Maybe color-coding isn’t your thing then just take a cue from these categories to either section of in a filing cabinet or binder system: medical, pet, auto, manuals, personal, home, credit cards, utilities.

So Happy Together

All of my paperwork is in one room the office, now my husband’s paperwork is another story it’s in his nightstand, sock drawer and wherever he can put it. (Know the feeling?) If you have closets and drawers full of papers, empty them all and designate a place where all the paperwork in your world will live happy together. Yes, it’s overwhelming, but you’ll have more space overall.

Place to Print

Designate a space to house the printer and printer supplies. A wireless printer is a great investment because it doesn’t need to go right by your computer. Placing it in a cabinet or other area in the office, you will gain more space on your desk to work.

Store Essentials

Office supplies should be front and center in an office (duh), but they can clutter a workspace so, they’re better kept out of sight. We store ours in an organized roller drawer under the desk. Plan on storing all supplies in containers, drawers, baskets and bins to stay on top of clutter.

Label It

By taking the time to label your files, drawers and boxes in an office, you’re giving everyone else who may need to access them a fighting chance at actually finding them and better yet, returning them back in the proper place. I highly recommend investing in a good label maker.

Categorize ChrisRules1014

Many times when I’m staging a home office it needs to be dual purposed, for instance an office and a guest bedroom or an office and playroom. First determine the room’s main functions and zone out each area of the room. When zoning items make sure it makes sense! So, group like items together, organize based on how you’ll use the items in correlation to one another to help keep the clutter at bay.

Book Clutter 

Try to organize books by genre, color or size depending on your preference. Organizing by color will add a stunning design element while giving the space a clutter-free, organized look. You can also mix in décor elements to create a more personalized look.

Utilize Wall Space

Go vertical, this is often the one step people miss when organizing their office. Use the wall space to hang filing systems, calendars, whiteboards, shelving and more. There is so much more space available when you go vertical, we went up to the ceiling in our office.

Create a Station 

Maybe you don’t need an entire office in your home, that’s awesome! But, you should designate a command center in an area of your home. This will help control paper coming and going. Whether you have paper bills, party invitations, school calendars or other reminders, use this system. Here’s what you need:

  • Folder for incoming mail
  • Folder for outgoing mail
  • Folder for mail to file
  • Folder for bills
  • Folder for every family member
  • Calendar for schedules
  • Personalize the space with a few photos, inspirational quotes

As soon as the mail comes in, file it in the mail station. Then once a week go through each folder. You can place a command center (hyperlink) in a kitchen, hutch, mudroom or near the entry –so it’s easily accessible.

Be Creative

If you don’t have a lot of space to work with, it’s time to get creative. Look above and behind things: An area over the desk can be used for files while the back of a door might be good for storage.

Try to set aside ten minutes at the end of the day to clean your desk and get ready for tomorrow. This will start the day off right tomorrow. Want more home organizing tips then sign up for our FREE Online Home Organizing Class featuring the Clutterbug and Toni Scott-Daniel who will share their best kept organizing secrets with you!

Happy Organizing,

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