De-cluttering Series: Paperwork

The place is "sandy". For the last several days, we had medium to mild sandstorms.  Apologies for my long absence. This week I've been home alone, with the husband overseas for work. With that, I kept myself very busy. The sandstorm prompted me to do two indoor things offline:  (1) Catch up with friends over food and movies at their place and (2) Organize the house inside out.   Coughing due to dust and cold weather prompted me to stay at home most of the time de-cluttering (or maybe all that coughing was brought about by cleaning).

#2 was motivated by house guests coming over in February.  I'll have the entire in-laws from France staying with us for a week. Parents and kids and their babies, a fun bunch of 7. I'm going to convert my studio/office into a temporary guest bedroom.  I'm excited, because I love having people over. A house filled with laughter and food and stories. 

This week will be all about de-cluttering and organizing.  I'm going to start off with today's post focusing on bills and important documents because I don't know if you're like me but I find paperwork the most stressful. To be honest, I procrastinate when it comes to opening envelopes and that resulted to 2 years worth of unopened statements and bills on my shelves. (I get the same files online anyway)

A.  Paper-less filing is the way to go!  Since I could just copy paste all the online statements, it would be better to avoid all the clutter and save actual storage space at home. It's convenient to complement it with this great video I found from Martha Stewart Organizing Paperwork Video -scanning receipts and bills that is automatically organized into your system.    

For someone like me, who doesn't have a scanner.  (I'm the type of person who's not techie at all and who doesn't even use our TV. My relationship with the technological world and shows that I like are confined within the laptop).

B. Organizing paperwork by filing.  In our part of the world, a lot of bill payments go online. However, we have important documents and bills that we need to present at times when getting something processed.  Finding them is stressful.  The last several years, I tried to minimize by storing them all in  large expanding folders with tabs but the increasing amount of paper to be stored has become a nightmare.

Each of us has our own style of organizing.

Take 5 minutes to figure out what works best for you. 

Much as I want to embrace becoming a minimalist, I've realized I have my limits as there are things that mean a lot to me and just can't seem to throw them away.

I did my level best to keep everything as simple as possible and only keep what I think is necessary.

I spent one full day throwing out junk paperwork in the recycle bin and sorting them by categories. e.g.  Health, Bank, Car, Appliance Warranties, and Receipts, House Files in separate piles.

Take your time.
Spending a few minutes each day breaking down the task is better than not doing them at all. (Look at where two years worth of unopened bills got me :)

After categorizing each pile, I organized each by date.  The current one on top, in chronological order. 

I got some color coded box files from Office Depot, Colorful separators with tabs so I could write on them, A4 Punched pockets for important documents, CD punched pockets, Stapler, Puncher and a Pen. You can print labels if you want and you can also use stickers.

I re-used the expanding folders for Appliance Manuals and Receipts.  Each one with their own pockets.  I tried to re-use the other colored box files that I have instead of throwing them away.

Update whenever possible
One lesson I learned is, as soon as I get the mail, I need to open them at once. Accordingly, keep them in a "To-File" drawer so I could store them in the box file later.   

I intend to make these white binders less boring with the first image as an inspiration. Though this would be kept inside a covered closet anyways. It would be easier to identify them when they're color coded. For now these handwritten file boxes would functionally do.

Phew! Now I can blog peacefully again.  There's still a lot more to organize but I'm taking a break for now.

Any tips you would like to share in organizing paperwork?
I would love to hear from you. 
Happy Organizing!



  1. Organizing is a huge challenge! It looks like you did a good job, though.

  2. great organizational motivation!

  3. I'm going to be doing this next month once my thesis writing slows down a bit. I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be interesting to figure out what to do with my thesis data (all paper). I think I might have to buy a scanner!