How to Organize Papers

Full & Simple How to Organize Papers

My goals in March for Simple 2016 were to not drink any pop, start seeds for the garden and to finish up the paper section of the KonMari method.  I got several seeds started and I have kale, eggplant and cauliflower already sprouting up.  I didn’t drink pop at all until the 31st when I had these party slushes with ginger ale at book club.  AND I finished the paper section of the KonMari Method.  It took a little over a week of working on it whenever I could spare a minute, but I’m so relieved to have gotten it finished.

The first thing I did was go through EVERY. SINGLE. PIECE OF PAPER.  I pulled out all of the files that we currently had and looked at every single thing.  This took the longest.  I had bank statements from 2006!!!!  When I finished my shred pile was about seven inches high and my trash pile was about three inches high.



My shred pile after sorting through all of my files


My shred pile is toward the bottom and my trash pile is toward the top

After I cleared out all of the junk, I started to decide what files needed to be separated (We originally kept all of our tax information in a singe file, but now each year has its own file. and what files could be merged.  And I came up with this color system:

Black Folders

  • Bills
  • Banking
  • Income

Purple Folders

  • Taxes
  • Retirement Information

Red Folders

  • Medical
  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Disability Insurance

Yellow Folders

  • Home information
  • Home insurance
  • Auto information
  • Auto Insurance

Blue Folders

  • Memberships
  • Licenses
  • Miscellaneous

Now everything is easy to locate and we don’t have to sift through irrelevant papers to get the item we need.  I kept way more than Kondo suggests in her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I was leery of keeping less.  It is my plan to go through the files every January to keep them tidy.  I did, however, take Kondo’s advice and put all manuals in plastic sleeves in a binder instead of just having them lying around or in a file.

The next thing I did was decide on a system to organize papers that don’t get filed or that I don’t have time right away to get to.

I bought these magazine holders from and I love the vintage vibe they give to the office.  As you will notice from my pictures, the office has not been painted since we’ve moved in and our office furniture is secondhand, but it is my vision to turn this room into a vintage manly(ish) study/library.  I think these magazine holders will fit in nicely even after I make the changes I want to make.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I also bought this wall-mounted magazine holder for magazines and any mail that I haven’t had time to sort through.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

It is my goal to try to sort the mail everyday and get it in the right place to be dealt with, but I have designated Tuesdays as “Paper Day.”  This way, one day a week, I take time to deal with all of the unsorted mail, take care of any actionable items and file away anything that needs to be filed.  I thought this was an appropriate day since I already do a lot of other paper related tasks on Tuesdays like meal plan, coupon, and write out the grocery list.

Here are a few links that I found especially useful in setting up my paper organization system:

I hope that this helps you set up your own paper organization system!  I think that having a way to take care of our important documents takes away a lot of stress which is one of the key components to living a simple life.



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