As we get deeper into this organization challenge, we are finally ready to tackle the home office, also known as the paper-clutter capital of the world. I’m splitting this month’s challenge into 3 posts, because we have a great deal to cover. Here are the first 3 of 10 office hacks to get you organized today.
1. Sort all the things.
You’ve heard me say this before. Sorting is my absolute favorite organization hack. Keeping like items together will save you valuable time when looking for things. Plus it teaches you and your household that all things have a place. Keep all writing supplies in one area, paper, card stock and construction paper in a separate area. Tape, glue and sticky velcro n another area. You get the idea. I like see through compartmented containers for sorting small items. The compartments are great, and they even allow me to sort markers and pencils by color. I also use them in my craft and sewing room, to hold beads, buttons, stickers, you name it.
Mail sorters are also organization sanity savers. I use them to hold printer paper, construction paper, labels, etc.
2. Tackle the paper clutter.
If you’re part of our Facebook Group, you’ll remember I asked you a few questions when you joined. Mail and paper clutter are by far the greatest of all organization struggles, yet if we really think about it, this is the simplest of all organization tasks.
I don’t check my mail daily (though I know I should). However when I do, I know immediately whether what I received is worth keeping or not. I can tell right away if it’s a bill, if it’s a check, if it’s junk mail, or a letter from a loved one. There’s no question or ambiguity, therefore action can and should be taken immediately.
The paper pile only grows when you feed it.
So how do you get it under control, even if you already have a stack the size of the Empire State Building?
We sort. Remember to sort ALL THE THINGS.
You will need 4 piles here:
- Recycle – The average U.S. household receives 6 pieces of junk mail every day, which amounts to roughly 2 billion pounds of landfill waste per year. Is that a scary amount or what? How many pounds of that is living on your counters, desks, drawers, etc.? Toss junk mail in the recycling bin, and move on.
- File – Not all mail delivered to your door deserves a place in your home. See hack number 3 to find what you should file/save for possible later use. Please do yourself a favor and recycle the rest. PRO TIP: Toss all envelopes. You will never need them again.
- Act – As you quickly go through your pile, note what needs action. Bills, jury duty summons, insurance claims, etc. These type of items require immediate attention, therefore they will need to be within reach.
- Scan – Not all things you keep need to be filed. Scan things like letters or postcards you want to look back on, or pay stubs and receipts that may need to be checked on in the future. We will spend more time focusing on paper vs. digital storage later in the year.
3. Color code your filing cabinet.
Before you ask, yes you do need a filing cabinet. At least until you’re completely ready and committed to go paperless, and I don’t think most of us are there yet.
Once again, the real hack here, is to sort. Here’s a list of the 10 categories I sort everything into, and the types of things I file in each category, under a different color. If something doesn’t fit in one of these, then it’s not worth keeping and taking up valuable space in my home. Your categories may differ, and there may be more or less. However keep in mind that we are trying to keep things simple. When we make things too complicated, it it’s much harder to follow through.
- School – Transcripts, high school diplomas, scholarship application info, homeschool records, etc.
- Medical – Immunization records, x-ray copies (lots of broken bones in our house), insurance information, etc.
- Taxes – Paper copies of the last 3 years of returns, as well as W2s.
- Pay Stubs – Last 6 months as a just in case thing. I prefer to scan these but my husband likes physical copies.
- Receipts – DMV registration, rent, other automotive or large vacation expenses.
- Household – Renters insurance.
- Business – Tax deductible receipts and paperwork for our home based businesses.
- Keepsakes – Kids art work I don’t want to scan, old letters that would loose character if scanned, etc.
- Scan – Anything and everything I want to switch to digital filing. I pull things out of this file as I have time, so this is an ongoing process.
- Shred – Paid bills, old pay stubs and documents I don’t want to recycle. This file is typically empty, because I try to take care of things immediately, but it’s there in case I’m not able to right away.
While we’re on this subject, let me highlight the importance of keeping important documents such as birth and marriage certificates, passports, bank cards, etc, in fire & water proof containers. I’m giving away two fire/water/smoke proof bags this month. be sure to enter below.
What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to organizing your home office? is there anythignspeciofic you’d like to cover? Share with us below or in the Organized 365 Facebook Community.
Remember that the whole point of this challenge is to get you AND your loved ones in the habit of keeping your home clutter free, and organized. We are working on this together, one space and one month at a time. Check out the closet and bedroom organization challenges if you haven’t done so, and feel free to jump in at any time. Also connect with us in the Organized 365 Community on Facebook.