Colourful Hanging files

How to organise paperwork

If you have yet to find the best way to manage your paperwork, I’m writing this just for you!

Paperwork is a fact of life but where does it come from and does it have to cause so much clutter?

Like death and taxes, you can’t get away from it! Anything from owning a gadget, to holding a bank account, store card or mobile phone, being employed, having a family, running a home or car, all generates paperwork! And that’s the important stuff! Then there is the paperwork that just arrives without cause or invitation; the leaflets, marketing materials, menus, catalogues and magazines that come through our doors all the time!

Do you also generate your own paper? I know I do; hand-written notes, printed documents, tickets, itineries to take to events, because you may need them, or simply because you prefer to read a real document sometimes.

In a bid to hold on to paperwork that may be useful, you stash it in a drawer or file it in away but it soon mounts up.

According to US National Association of Professional Organisers:

we don't look back at 80% of the paperwork that comes into our homes

Searching through mountains of paperwork to find that one important document you need is so frustrating!! At best it can cost you time searching, at worst it can cost you the price of a holiday when you can't find your passport!

The good news is, it is possible to keep it all under control!

And it's not that hard to manage if you dedicate a little time to setting yourself up with a simple system so that you tackle it as it comes into your home. Make sure you take 10 mins every day to do the following (don't just stack it up to deal with 'later'!)

  • Open envelopes and sort out the useless paperwork
  • Recycle envelopes, leaflets, menus, instruction manuals (unless you intend to sell items in future) and anything else you can find online
  • Take action:
    • add any key dates and appointments to your diary
    • schedule payments, make phone calls, book appointments
    • login to your online banking and other accounts and indicate that you’d rather receive online bank statements
  • Once actioned, recycle or shred the document (unless you need to take the letter along to the appointment, e.g. hospital appointments)
  • If you don't have time or can't take action straight away - assign one shelf, basket or noticeboard for the paperwork that is Waiting to be Actioned

Then each week tackle your Waiting to be Actioned pile - ensure you go back to this location every week and take the actions needed (perhaps it's a Saturday breakfast-time job)! Once the task is complete, file, shred or recycle the document

Now you've got a system set up to take tackle your paper clutter each week, it's time to sort out your existing paperwork

  • Prepare - Choose a table or floor with space to spread out, grab a recycling bag, shredder and a folder with dividers
  • Gather all paperwork from around your home
  • Sort through it, shredding, recycling or filing
  • File the documents in sections in your folder

Don't forget to use a system that is as simple as possible but feels logical for you - afterall you need to use it!

If it's a huge task, do this for each room, then bring everything together in one and have another pass and it.

I've created an Important Paperwork Checklist that outlines sections and lists all the documents I'd want to keep safe to refer to in future. It offers a guide to how you could organise your filing and the types of documents you might file. I'm sure there will be other important documents that you'll need to refer to or keep as evidence for something and you need to decide whether to keep them. If in doubt, keep it and gain some advice!

What are you waiting for?

So get started and do let me know how you get on! I love to hear how you get on with my tips.


By the way, just so you know, I'm an Amazon Associate so I earn from qualifying purchases. 


About OrganisedWell

Would you like help getting organised?

Laura Williams, Founder and Professional OrganiserIf you need guidance, ideas and practical support to make more of your home, organise your possessions in a way that supports your best life or to get started with your decluttering project, then give me a call.

We provide tailored advice and practical support to clients looking to make changes, to create calm, ordered space and free up time and money to focus on the important things in life. We specialise in organising rooms, garages, wardrobes, paperwork and much more; see our services or get in touch.

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