The Organization Organization Blog
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I received an email asking for guidance on how to get started organizing paperwork and decided to share my tips in my blog. You might have a stack of paperwork on your desk, some shoeboxes under your bead, or a file cabinet that isn’t updated. Here’s a chance to get started or revamp what you’ve already got!

If you already have a desk with a built in file cabinet, I would take advantage of that first. I love to repurpose and reuse as much as I can in order to save money. If not, you can get a file tub like this one. It’s lightweight and relatively affordable. It is probably somewhere between $16.99 – $24.99 depending on where you live and what store you go to.

Staples® Letter/Legal File Boxes, Assorted Colors

You’ll need hanging file folders, manila folders and a label maker if you have one. If not, you can just hand write. I personally use these super cute folders from Target:

Threshold™ 3ct Hanging File Folders-Assorted Styles for $2.99

If you are a couple and keeping everything in 1 place, there are 2 ways you can do it:

Organize by account, then have one for each of you

  • Employment Records – Jack
  • Employment Records – Jill
  • Medical Records – Jack
  • Medical Records – Jill
  • Tax Records – Jack
  • Tax Records – Jill
Or organize by person, then account
  • Jack – Employment Records
  • Jack – Medical Records
  • Jack – Tax Records
  • Jill – Employment Records
  • Jill – Medical Records
  • Jill – Tax Records

The couples I have done this for usually go with the first option, but whatever works with the way you think. If you were looking for something, would you first ask yourself “What account do I need?” or “Whose account is this?” If you like the first question, the first system is best. Second question, second system. If you want to take it a step further, you can color-code between your files.. but that’s totally up to you.

Here are 5 basic categories to start off with for things that are good to have hard copies of:

  • AUTO RECORDS – hanging file folder
    • “Make/Model of Car” – manila folder inside
      • Purchase/lease paperwork, maintenance records
    • “Make/Model of Car” – manila folder inside
  • HOUSING RECORDS – hanging file folder
    • “Name of property” – manila folder inside
      • copy of lease, copy of renter’s insurance
    • Medical
      • Medical records
    • Dental
    • Vision
    • Copy of drivers license
    • Copy of passport
    • 2014
      • W-2s, 1099s, copy of tax return filed
    • 2013

The important thing is to file things away as soon as you can. Since you have a file for them, take a minute to put them in the file. I tell clients all the time, taking 5 minutes out now will save you from wasting 5 hours later!

Jiliane Patriarca

Jiliane is the founder of The Organization Organization, a San Francisco-Bay Area based professional organizing company. After years of working in a variety of industries (food service, health care, financial planning, and communication), she realized that she had gravitated towards the same thing at every single job… organizing! Now she uses her super-powers to help people feel less stressed and cluttered, by transforming their space. It’s her mission to help people become more efficient and productive, so that they can have more time to do the things that make them happy.