How To Organize Paperwork In Your Home

Paperwork is my weak point. If you’ve thought a good way to file paperwork was putting the papers in diaper boxes in a closet, raise your hand. *Raises hand high.* I’m going to show you how I went from filing paperwork in old diaper boxes to finally getting my paper clutter under control.

Before I decided to officially organize my paperwork like an adult I would separate it into three boxes. Garbage, shred, and keep. While this is fantastic for quick decluttering of kitchen tables, offices, or desks it’s not at all efficient in truly organizing paperwork.

Check out my post How to Declutter your Home.

Organize Paperwork Into Files

There are only a few things you actually need to file. You don’t need a large filing cabinet anymore thanks to the many technological advances that we now use.

A small filing box will do the job of a cabinet and can easily be stored in a closet. You can also check out the ottoman filing cabinet that I feature in 10 Creative Living Room Office Ideas.

I recommend this file box because of the easy close and open wide lid. The cheapest option for a file box is always the banker’s box.

The things you want to file away include tax forms for seven years, bills that don’t have electronic options, and pay stubs. The IRS recommends holding on to these forms for at least seven years in case of audit. These include business taxes and receipts.

File away warranties for fridges, stoves, baby equipment, and any other warranty information related to house, cars, and other big purchases.

Check out my post 11 Bullet Journal Cleaning Schedules.

Protect Important Paperwork

There is a full on list of paperwork you need to make sure you protect. Everything in this list should be put into a fireproof box or safe for protection. This is also your bail out box. Make sure your box is large enough to hold everything, but small enough to carry.

Here’s a search of fire safe boxes. We have used this SentrySafe Fire Safe in the past. However, as our need of more room grew we decided to go with this Sentry Safe 0.61 cubic foot Fire Safe.

We stick with SentrySafe because their products are rated well. Both of these safes are rated at 1550 degrees and ½ an hour of fire time. Plus, in case of a fire Sentry Safe will send you a new safe to help you get back on your feet.

In case of an emergency like an evacuation order or natural disaster this box holds all of the important paperwork you will need. It’s always better to have it than not.

Your must protect paperwork includes but is not limited to:

  • Birth Certificates
  • Social Security Cards
  • Health Insurance Information
  • Life Insurance Information
  • Wills
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Divorce Decrees
  • Child Custody and Support Paperwork

Take Control of Paperwork by Scanning

Stop filing those bills and payments. Seriously it’s no longer necessary. Scan bills and the payments associated using your PC and save the images on your computer with a back up to a cloud service.

While you are backing up your bills create a backup of business files or any other documents you don’t want to lose too. Having an electronic version of all your documents with a back up to a cloud can be helpful in cases of fire, theft, or other emergencies.

Now that you have filed, protected, and scanned the majority of your paperwork the rest of it falls into one of next two categories. The first of the two is garbage. The second is what paperwork to shred.

Check out my post Time Management Tips For Work At Home Moms.

What Paperwork to Shred

I know a lot of people who get concerned over what paperwork is ok to just toss and which to shred. As a rule of thumb I say if you are unsure if it’s ok to toss shred it and stay on the safe side.

Shred anything with sensitive information that could lead to account hacking or charges. This means old phone bills, things with your SS #, tax forms that are 7 years or older should all be shredded.

It’s always better to be safe and shred anything with personal information. In the past, I have been known to shred anything with my name and address. While nothing can be done with that information alone I always swayed on the side of caution when it came to paperwork.

Check out my post 10 Creative Home Office Ideas.

What Paperwork to Toss

Toss any junk mail, envelopes, old warranties or anything that does not have sensitive information on it. Make a habit of tossing these things right away to prevent build up of unnecessary paperwork on your desk.

The trick to keeping your paperwork under control is to keep handling it as soon as it enters your home. Simply throwing out the envelopes and junk mail, scanning, filing, and protecting your paperwork immediately lessens the amount of time you spend monthly straightening out your paperwork.

Do you have any tricks to keeping your paperwork under control? Leave a comment below, follow me on Pinterest, and pin this to your favorite organization boards.

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    Crystal Lynn

    Crystal is the founder & CEO of MommyThrives and also full-time mom to a very active little guy. She’s passionate about cooking, cleaning, and organizing and turns her experiences into actionable systems to make mom-life simpler. When she’s not busy, you can find her reading, painting, or even on occasion indulging herself shooting bandits in Borderlands on her PC.

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