How to file papers?

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Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in paper?

Maybe your wallet is overflowing with receipts. Maybe your desk drawers are crammed with wedding invitations and old Christmas cards. Or maybe you have piles of bank statements and bills shoved in the far corner of your kitchen counter.

Let’s face it: Paper clutter is one of the worst offenders. It accumulates quickly and can be totally overwhelming if you don’t deal with it on a daily basis.

But, thankfully, all it takes to banish paper clutter from your home are a few clever tricks and well-implemented organization systems.

Follow these 13 incredibly effective steps to organize, store, and get rid of your paper clutter for good.

MakeSpace is more than just storage.

To find out how you can make space in your life, talk to one of our space experts. We’ll get started with the right storage plan for you.

1. Go paperless with bank statements and bills

/stevepb

The first step to decluttering your paper is to stop all future paper items from entering your home.

How, you ask?

Transfer everything online. Most banks and major utility companies offer the choice to stop receiving statements and notifications in the mail — all you have to do is ask.

To go a step further, skip the hand-written checks and pay your bills online instead. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t even know this is possible (online bill pay only accounts for 58% of consumer bills paid), but it is, and it’s genius.

An online bill pay system makes it easier to pay your bills on time and manage your budget. It also eliminates the need to stock up on envelopes and stamps. That’s a win-win.

Free Bonus: 15 actionable tips for decluttering your home

2. Purge your paper

Flickr/Keith Williamson

First, gather every bit of paper in your house. Don’t forget to check the junk drawers for crumpled take-out menus, instruction manuals, and neighborhood flyers.

Then, sort everything into three piles: Recycle, Scan, or Save.

Put important documents like tax returns, medical files, insurance papers, and leases into a pile to be scanned onto your computer for safekeeping. Save any special photos or sentimental cards you absolutely can’t bear to part with, then recycle everything else.

Free Bonus: Read these minimalist living tips to learn how to pare down your stuff and live with less.

3. Shred personal documents

/Hans

Anything that has your personal information on it (like your address, social security number, phone number, or bank account number) should be shredded — not tossed out with the regular recycling.

Not only does a shredder help protect your privacy, but it also eliminates all paper that falls into the annoying “can’t throw it away, but don’t have a place to put it” category.

4. Recycle your stacks of magazines and newspapers

Flickr/Jessica Spengler

Let’s be honest: You’ll never read them again, nor will you need them for a future craft project or vision board (Pinterest has us covered).

While you’re at it, unsubscribe from all the magazines you’re no longer interested in.

Having a hard time getting rid of your stuff? Learn how to how to easily declutter your home like Marie Kondo, the most organized person in the world.

5. Create a filing system

The House on Hillbrook

There are so many different types of filing systems, but the best ones all have a few things in common: They’re logically organized, easy to access, and spacious enough to store new documents over time.

Consider your available space before you buy new filing equipment. If you have open desk drawers, metal file rails work great. If you have tons of closet space, go for portable file bins.

Prefer to keep your files in plain sight?

Desk organizers are just what you need.

Next, stock up on file folders and separate everything into categories. Make sure you cover all the bases (Pet, Home, Medical, Creative, Work, Kids, etc.) and be as specific as possible with your labels.

Give big categories like “Finances” their own folders with additional files for specific types of documents like “Tax Returns” or “Bills.”

Free Bonus: While you’re filing, learn how to organize your desk in under four minutes

6. Put a recycling bag or bin near your front door

Flickr/Wicker Paradise

Before you even bring mail into the house, pause by your front door to toss everything you know you don’t need — like flyers, advertisements, coupons, and junk mail.

Then whenever you’re on the way out the door, grab the bag and dump your paper in the recycling bin.

7. Create a “Take Action” station for papers that need to be dealt with

The Inspired Room

Put all papers that require action on your part — RSVP cards to mail, forms to sign, letters to send — in one designated spot. You could hang papers on a giant kitchen message board, stack them in a mail organizer on your entryway table, or place them in a shallow tray on your desk. Whatever works best for you.

To prevent your station from turning into a dumping zone, make a daily or bi-weekly appointment with yourself to take care of the papers and clear the space.

8. Store coupons in a binder

Tiny Tips By Michelle

Coupons can be a major culprit of paper clutter. You find them, clip them with enthusiasm, then stash them in your junk drawer to expire and collect dust.

If your urge to be thrifty is interfering with your space and sanity, you need a better solution.

The answer?

Binders. Or index card cases. Or any other middle school necessity. Just be sure to store the binder in your car or purse so you’ll actually use it when you go shopping.

9. Store important receipts in a binder, too

Honey We’re Home

Like coupons, receipts can be organized in a small binder.

Make sure you store the binder in a convenient place so you have no excuse not to add new receipts to it at the end of every week.

10. Use a calendar

Just A Girl and Her Blog

You don’t need to save event flyers or invitations if you have a calendar where you can record all your upcoming activities.

A digital calendar is ideal, but if you want to see your weekly schedule without having to unlock your phone, buy a desk or wall calendar.

Every time you get a new piece of paper that details an upcoming event, just transfer the information to your calendar and recycle the paper.

11. Hang photos, or put them in an album

A Beautiful Mess

Don’t let your precious memories sit in a box under the bed. If you have a bunch of printed photos hidden away, give them new life: Put them in an album, frame them, or hang them on a cork board so you can enjoy them every day.

Free Bonus: Here’s how to properly store and preserve your old photographs so that they, along with some of your fondest memories, stay in top condition for years to come

12. Store your paper items in the right places

In My Own Style

The key to using and enjoying your stuff on a regular basis is to store it in a place that makes sense. Here are three simple and highly-effective ideas:

  1. Keep the paper items you use every day in plain sight. Put new magazines on your coffee table, stationery on your desk, and so on.
  2. Store sentimental items like cards, school papers, and souvenirs in pretty boxes or baskets to display on bookcases and shelves. You’re more likely to look through your mementos every now and then if they’re not tucked away in a closet.
  3. Keep all your craft and office-related paper goods (like extra printer paper, notebooks, and sticky notes) in the same area.

13. Store your paper items in MakeSpace

For everything you can’t fit in your home, like boxes full of extra wallpaper, old Valentine’s Day cards, and books you’ve already read (here’s how to decide what books to keep), let MakeSpace store everything for you.

Simply schedule a pickup and pack your stuff. We’ll pick up everything from your home, transport it to our secure, temperature-controlled storage facility, and create a convenient online photo catalog of your stuff.

Then when you want something back from storage, just log into your MakeSpace account, click the item’s photo, and we’ll deliver it straight to you.

Top image via Flickr/Sean Winters

This article was written by Paige Smith, a freelance writer from Orange County, California who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics.

How to Declutter and Organize Your Paperwork

Kana Okada

Shoved into drawers or heaped into piles, snail mail and documents can quickly crowd a workspace-and stifle productivity. While the rest of your home may be easier to sort KonMari style, we’re betting bills and photocopied forms don’t quite bring the same joy. But that’s no reason to put off decluttering your paper piles for another year. Here’s how to do it once and for all:

FOLLOW THE “TOUCH ONCE” RULE

As the age-old, goldemn paperwork rule explains, for every sheet you come across, either act on it, file it, or recycle it. While it may seem easier to convince yourself that you’ll “just do it later”, this also has the tendency to create an even longer to-do list in the end. And if this rule seems like too much to handle just yet, the productivity coaches at Gateway Productivity, suggest an “Every time you touch it, move it forward” mentality.

KNOW WHAT TO SAVE-AND FOR HOW LONG

Often times, we end up saving everything simply because we don’t know what we’ll need and what can be tossed. In her new handbook, “The Martha Manual: How to Do (Almost) Everything”, Martha suggests saving paid utility bills, annual investment statements, and copies of checks for non-tax-deductible items for one year. Any IRS tax records, bank statements, and records of deductible expenses should be kept for up to seven years (IRS-recommended). Contracts, home-improvement receipts, mortgage records, and deeds should be kept for as long as they’re active. Items like marriage papers, education records, and passports should be kept indefinitely.

When it’s time to toss, shred any papers that list your name, address, or phone or social-security numbers; old insurance policies; and receipts (with the exception of those for larger purchases that have warranty policies in place). Bonus recycling points: while shredded paper can be mixed with the rest of your household recycling, it also makes a great addition to your compost!

GO DIGITAL

Minimize the amount of paperwork you have to sift through-and be more eco-friendly-by reducing it at the source. Switch to online billing for credit cards, cell service, utilities, and bank statements. Then, scan any must-haves document with apps that use your phone camera, such as Scanbot or CamScanner. These apps allow you to enhance, annotate, and crop documents; bundle them into a single PDF; and share them via email or social media.

You can then organize these digital files through designated folders on your computer or upload them to Cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive. These services, contrary to popular belief, are safe to use, thanks to redundancies-systems store multiple copies of data, all in different places-and user-specific encryption. For extra protection against hacking, set up two-step verification. This will require you to enter both your password and a code sent to an additional device (like your phone) to achieve access to Cloud-stored documents.

CENTRALIZE YOUR PAPERS

The more places your papers are scattered, the greater the chances are something gets lost. Whether it’s a shelf in your home office or a filing cabinet under your desk, try and keep everything in one place. This not only helps maintain an order, but will make your workspace less of an obstacle for actually working. That said, consider a few small touches that can make the space more appealing, like cheery stationery essentials and a good work lamp. Shredder an eyesore? Hide it in a tall basket. And don’t forget to spring for a comfortable chair-you don’t need another reason to avoid the task.

KEEP THE ROUTINE GOING

After you’ve set up the decluttering system that works best for you, vow to actually follow through with it. This can be as easy as setting aside a little time each week (try sticking to one designated day) where you sift through the week’s worth of paperwork, filing and purging as you go.

When you have a desk job, it’s easy to let the papers pile up. Reminders to call that person and send out that email get lost amid quickly jotted notes and printed information. And we try not to even look at the growing stack of papers that must be kept but have no real place. I say it’s time to do something about the stack! Take a look at these 20 ways to can buy or DIY some organization for all your papers and get your desk cleaned off for summer.

Buy

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Who can resist a pretty patterned box? Whether it’s your cubicle or your desk at home, adding a file box like this one will not only add a touch of glamour but also up the organization potential. (via Sundance)

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Are you working off of the metal cabinets your cube provides? Give them a pop of color by adding pretty patterned folders like these. (via The Container Store)

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You would never have believed it, but a simple box with shelves like this one can instantly transform any paper-covered desk or cluttered counter into an organized serene surface space. (via Dot and Bo)

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Filing cabinets don’t have to be gray and ugly. Add a chic white one like this to your office and you’ll have all the filing space you need without having to compromise on style. (via Blu Dot)

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No pink and sparkles here. This simple filing box can help give your office a masculine feel while providing ample filing space. You’ll be glad you bought one. (via Poppin)

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Kate Spade certainly knows how to design office supplies. Buying a set or two of these metallic polka dotted folders will make the two of you BFFs at the office. (via Amazon)

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When in doubt, go mint. This little cabinet is perfect for a shared office where you have three times the paper of one desk. Combine it all in one organized file cabinet that can roll wherever it’s needed. (via CB2)

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You might be thinking “A magazine file?”, but they can be super handy for quick and easy storage space. It’s a great solution for those papers that you still need on hand but don’t want cluttering your desk. (via The Container Store)

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If your office has shelves, you’ll want to grab a few of these filing boxes. Not only will they clear up your desk space, they’ll make a gray statement in your shelf decorating. (via The Container Store)

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Of course nobody said you had to go gray. If you’re more of the bold type, opt for this bright filing cabinet. Just imagine how classy it will look under your cubicle desk. (via Heartwork)

DIY

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Do you have an old filing cabinet you’re tired of? Give it a good remodel with stained wood. It will be like the 90’s went rustic in your office. (via Brepurposed)

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It’s a well known fact that adding leather in any form to any room immediately increases the classy ratings. So these simple DIY leather folders seem like a great way to add some leather and organization to your office. (via Homey Oh My)

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Bring a bit of brightness to any work space by covering a magazine file with patterned paper or even fabric. Oh the things you can do with decoupage. It’s magical. (via Craft and Creativity)

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If you have a free Saturday afternoon, you can totally redo your filing cabinet with just a bit of paint. Use painters tape to add a design or even just choose a bright color that will bring a bit of life into your office. (via Pretty Providence)

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An acrylic filing box will be easy to find and then with a bit of gold paint, you’ve got the prettiest filing box in the office. Don’t forget to choose some patterned folders! (via Homemade By Carmona)

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How to use up your last bits of wrapping paper always seems a puzzle, but this project makes it easy. Just tape it to a plain manilla folder to transform your boring filing cabinet to something you’ll want to leave open all the time. (via ModCloth)

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Upgrade a plain mesh magazine holder with some embroidery string. You could make starry designs like the one above or create a motivating phrase or even a full fledged landscape if you’ve got the embroidering skills. (via Design Improvised)

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Do away with all the sticky notes full of reminders and lists. Paint your filing cabinet with chalkboard paint to create office organization that will act as a calendar too. (via Design Improvised)

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Catch the rainbow with a bit of ribbon. Whether you buy the box or use an antique you already own, cover it in strips of color with a whole new look. DIY tip: try using washi tape for a faster solution. (via City Suburb Sanity)

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Looking for a filing solution that’s just a bit elegant but not over the top? You can easily add decorative feet to a clear acrylic filing box for a subtle feminine touch on your desk. (via Felicity Jane)

Struggling to keep your home office organized? With these 15 home office ideas, you can declutter your office space, improve office organization, and get more office storage!

Take Stock of Everything

Photo via @ikeafamilymag

The first step toward getting organized is to declutter. Go through what you have in your home office already. That includes furniture, home decor, and any files or paper documents. Separate them into groups of keep, donate, or toss. That way, you can clear out the things you don’t want or don’t need anymore. For more ideas, check out these home decluttering tips!

Differentiate Work Areas

Photo via @luminlamphouse

Even if you’re working with a small office space at home, separating your workspace from your office storage is important. Maintaining a clean space for working can help you be more creative and productive, and having a designated place for supplies and documents will make locating these items easier.

Create a Paper Filing System

Photo via @foreverflowersbymk

We might be living in the digital age, but if you’re running a home business, you’ll likely have some paper records and receipts to track. Home office organization ideas for files can be as simple as purchasing expandable folders, portable file boxes, or creating a DIY file organizer.

Utilize Wall Space for Files

Photo via @jenmackintosh

Especially in small offices, it’s good to take advantage of vertical storage. Try mounting folders on the wall to free up desk space and keep what you need nearby. Or fasten baskets of wire file organizers to the wall for an easy filing system or mail center.

Incorporate a Peg Board

Photo via @moderniafarmhouse

Utilizing wall space with a pegboard is one of the best home office organization ideas because it saves room in drawers and allows you to display items that are important to you! Place one above your desk and add a sheet of cork for posting daily reminders, calendars, and memos.

Reuse Household Items

Photo via @craftwarehouse

If you’re looking for budget-friendly home office storage ideas, look no further than what you already have at home! Old cans, mason jars, cookie tins, and tea containers can be transformed into cute desk utensil organizers.

Choose a Desk with Storage

Photo via @taicandido

Finding a desk that fits your needs can solve many storage issues. Having proper drawer space and attached shelving will keep your home office neat and tidy. Whether you’re shopping for a new desk or looking to add storage, there are many ways to make your desk a more productive workspace.

Consider Storage on Wheels

Photo via @jenmackintosh

An easy way to keep what you need nearby is furniture on wheels. Rolling storage drawers, movable office desks, and filing cabinets on wheels all provide portable storage options and help you maintain a tidy small home office. Utility carts are also a fantastic home office storage idea, as they allow you move your work and any supples to another part of the house.

Take Advantage of Closet Storage

Photo via @julielauren14

If your home office is located in an extra bedroom, utilizing closet space is another great home office storage solution. Take advantage of pre-existing shelves and hangers to neatly organize supplies or add movable cabinets to make the most of the space.

Give Floating Shelves a Shot

Photo via @myohome_design

Floating shelves are a simple DIY option for adding more home office storage! If you’re working in a cramped room or you have a tight budget, this is a simple and inexpensive home office storage solution.

Invest in Storage Cabinets

Photo via @nest.in.birdland

There’s a reason why file cabinets are an office staple. They’re a classic storage solution for keeping files organized and tucking away supplies. You can find many versatile options at a wide range of price points at home office supply stores.

Buy a Desktop Organizer

Photo via @glamlife4women

If you’re not much of a DIYer or into craft projects, don’t worry! There are many office organizers that will help with home office organization. File sorters, letter trays, and stackable cubes can all sit on top of your desk and make more room for your work!

Try Hanging Storage

Photo via @bayouvinyls

Do you have an extra canvas or plastic shoe organizer around the house? These cheap, versatile items are ideal for home office storage because they can store a myriad of items like pens, binder clips, and staplers on the back of any door.

Invest in a Cord Organizer

Photo via @yamazakihome

A cord organizer is the perfect home office solution for keeping wires from getting all tangled. It can also help you find which outlet each cord goes to. Buy one that already space for cords or make a DIY wire organizer using binder clips.

Embrace Portable Organization

Photo via @sterilitecorporation

Are you more inspired on the couch? Do your best ideas happen in bed? If you like to get away from your home office to do work every once in a while, try using a shower caddy to store office supplies. This organizing solution comes with a handle and makes working anywhere around the house a breeze!

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Need more space at home? Extra Space Storage has convenient self storage facilities throughout the U.S. that can help you get more room. Find a storage unit near you!

Storage & Organization

Conquer office clutter.
Find storage and organization solutions at Staples. An organized, clutter-free office lets workers keep their focus on the task at hand, rather than the mess on their desk.
Organizational storage.
With our selection of storage drawers, storage bins and totes, and decorative boxes and baskets, you can pack away paper, products, supplies and collateral, labeled easily so you can find it later. Color-coordinated storage bins make stored items easier to find, while see-through plastic boxes give you a preview of what’s inside. Stackable boxes let you condense your storage into a smaller space. And selecting smaller boxes for heavier loads helps to avoid back strain when moving bins.
Storage drawers provide flexible, portable organization options for storing smaller items. Decorative boxes and baskets offer a more stylish way to store items, adding style and color to offices and public areas.
Office storage.
From drawer organizers and letter trays to wall files and file sorters, Staples can help provide any office with many ways to keep everything in its place. Desk organizers put pens, paper clips and other supplies at your fingertips while keeping the desktop neat and clean. Letter trays provide a convenient way to store piles of paper, mail and stationery, and multi-tier letter trays provide a convenient landing place for materials coming in, going out, and to be filed. File sorters provide an easy way to keep files organized on the desktop or credenza. And drawer organizers make it easy to find the pens, pencils, paper clips and other office basics when you need them.
Storage furniture.
From open shelves to closed file cabinets, we offer lots of ways to keep offices and supply rooms organized. Storage cubes offer a modern, modular solution for storing smaller items. Bookcases and bookshelves are ideal for storing media, binders, manuals, and books, of course. And electronics and computer storage solutions provide a secure place to store and recharge equipment.
While you’re shopping for storage and organization solutions, don’t forget to stock up on file folders, paper, adhesive labels, and markers for labeling storage boxes.

So, here we are at step two of the Cure the Paper Organization Blues, and already I’m changing things up. We already set up a plan for handling incoming papers and gathered up all the papers from around the house that need organizing. But before we can dive into the task of sorting and purging, we need a plan for where we’re going to put all that paper when we’re done. I don’t know about you, but the less I have to handle the papers the easier this job is going to be. So today we’re going to talk about how to make a plan for our paper storage.

Creating a Plan for Your Paper Storage

Over the years I’ve looked into many ideas for how to store papers and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are really only three categories, or levels, of paper storage that need to be considered. We’ve already tackled the first level when we set up our system for handling incoming papers. This level is very temporary. It is just a holding place for papers until we act on them and/or file them away for later. The next levels of storage are where we put the papers once we’re done with them. These are the two levels we’re going to talk about today – our short and long-term paper storage.

It is always a good idea to check with your provincial/territorial/state and federal governments to be sure you’re keeping things for the right amount of time. I found the following two articles with general guidelines on what to keep and how long to keep it for but make sure you double check that info.

  • in Canada
  • in the United States

My advice – if you’re not sure, keep it! It may go against normal organizing advice, but in the case of papers and documents, I feel it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Long-Term Storage

My rule of thumb is that if you have to keep it for more than a year, iCreating a Paper Storage Plan That Works For Yout belongs in your long-term paper storage. Things like:

  • tax returns
  • medical records
  • birth, marriage, citizenship, death, and other certificates
  • legal documents
  • loan documents
  • deeds and other proof of ownership papers
  • life insurance documents
  • wills

How much you need to store long term, depends on your own individual circumstances.

Once you figure out the what you can determine the where. Most of us won’t need to access these papers on a regular basis, so we can easily store them somewhere that is out of the way, but there are many ways to store these types of papers.

  • dedicate one drawer in your file cabinet for long-term storage
  • plastic bin/file box that you can fit with hanging folders to keep everything neat
  • plastic bin with large envelopes to hold different categories of papers
  • bankers box
  • accordion file boxes
  • accordion file folders – you can use a few to separate categories

I use an accordion file box to store all our important and long term papers. It works really well for our family and our needs. What I really like about this system is that it is flexible and if we need more room I can add a second one if I need to. It’s also portable, so in the case of an emergency (I live in an earthquake zone) I can just grab and go and our important files are with us.

Short Term Storage

This layer of storage is for all those papers you might need to hold onto for a while. My rule of thumb for this layer is anything that I need to keep for more than a month goes here. Sometimes paper I store here move over to my long-term paper storage, like:

  • payslips
  • receipts for taxes
  • medical documents

Most of the papers I would consider for short-term storage would be things like:

  • utility bills (if you like to keep them)
  • bank statements
  • credit card statements
  • loan statements
  • insurance (car, home, health)
  • school report cards
  • medical documents

Short-term paper storage is more likely to be used and accessed more often than long-term. Whether it is adding papers to it, taking papers out to deal with them, or double check information, there is a better chance that these kind of papers are going to get used a little more frequently. You want to keep that in mind when choosing a storage option. Some great options for short-term storage are:

  • file cabinet with hanging file folders
  • open top file box
  • basket to hold files
  • binders (many people are using binders more and more to store their papers)
  • stacking paper trays or scrapbook shelves (pilers this might be an option for you)
  • magazine files with vertical file holders
  • wall mount magazine holders with file folders

The options are pretty limitless when it comes to storing your papers. As long as you can find them when you need them, any solution you choose will be fine.

Tips for Setting Up Paper Storage Solutions That Work For You

I say it all the time – your systems need to work for you, not the other way around, and paper storage systems are no different. You need to create a system that you can easily maintain and access without too much work on your part. Setting it up might take work, but after that, it should be fairly easy to keep up with it. I always approach creating systems by asking myself a few questions:

  1. Are you filer or a piler? We touched on this last post. How you naturally deal with paper will play a big role in how you create your storage systems. For me, the only real filing I have to do is for my long-term storage. It works for me because I really only have to touch those files once or twice a year.
  2. How many categories/sections will you need? There are a ton of articles and videos out there to help you figure out what categories and subcategories you need for storing your papers (if any). I keep mine really simple, but other people need more structure. My favourite resource for paper organization inspiration is Alejandra’s Home Office and Paper Management videos.
  3. What materials will you need? Create a list of what you’ll need. Shop your house for options you might already have at home to save some money. If you’re not sure about whether or not your system will work as you think it will, head to the dollar stores or thrift stores to see if you can find something similar to what you need before you invest in something new. Some of the supplies you might need could include:
    • file cabinet, box, or basket
    • folders, hanging and tabbed
    • labels
    • larger envelopes
    • binder clips or paper clips
    • accordion files
    • binders
    • paper trays
    • paper drawers/shelves

Special Note for Pilers

The world of paper storage and organization can sometimes feel like we need to force ourselves to adapt, which often leads to systems that stop working or hours spent getting caught up on our filing. There are a few tricks I’ve adopted over the years to help me work with my piling nature and I wanted to share some of them with you.

  • Large envelopes work wonders for long term storage. You can use one for each category and slip the documents inside. Then you can pop the envelopes into a bin and it’s easy to find them when you need them.
  • Binder clips and folders work really well together. I used to keep a stack of folders on my desk to help organize my papers. They were kind of like make-shift paper trays. I used binder clips to keep the papers clipped to the folder so they didn’t fall out when I moved them.
  • Binder clips with labels help keep piles neat and make it super easy to find what you’re looking for. You don’t have to buy fancy binder clips, just use some masking or washi tape around one of the prongs and a permanent marker to write on them.
  • Paper sorters/shelves can be labeled like files and used to keep your papers organized without sticking them in a file.

You might need to get a little creative and think outside the box, but you can create a system that will work for you.

Write Your Plan on Paper

Take a few minutes to jot down your ideas for your storage solutions. I like to make two lists, one for short-term one for long-term. I start by listing my ideas for how to store them. Then under that, I create a list of categories or subjects I plan to organize my papers into. That way, when it comes time to sort, I only have to sort once.

Handy Printable to Help You Out

It’s important to get our ideas out of our head and onto paper so we can fully map out our paper storage plan. To help I created a printable to help us organize our papers before we start sorting. We can create our plans for short and long-term storage and help make the sorting process easier.

As you can see I kept it super simple like always. One column for each with a space for storage ideas and a space for categories you plan to organize your papers by. As always, to snag a copy of the printable for yourself, simply click the picture and you’ll be taken to the PDF file.

No matter how hard we work at going paperless – even if we scan all our long-term documents into our computers, we still a place to store the originals. With a little thought and planning, we can create a paper storage system that will work well for us for years to come.

Now it’s your turn? Do you have and tips for suggestions to make paper storage easier? Do you have a system that is working well for you? Drop a line in the comments below and let us know.

If you hear the word “binders” and automatically think back to your school days and groan, you’re missing out! When you’re a grown-up, binders are still helpful for organizing (actually, they’re more helpful than ever), but they’re a lot more fun! You get to make them colorful and add a splash of your personality to each one, and there are dozens of ways you can use them to get more organized. A lot of folks find binder organization totally addictive. Once you get started, you won’t be able to stop! Once you start using binders to get your household in order:

Everything will have a place, and everything will be in its place.
No more searching for documents! Have them when you need them.
Use your binders to be more accountable and keep up with your commitments.
Track your progress on chores and progress.
Teach other members of your family how to get organized!
Use your creativity to make binders artistic and fun!

Okay, enough about why you should do it … when you check out these examples, you will probably want to jump in your car and go straight to your office supply store!

Table of Contents

Create a gardening binder … with seed packets!

Do you have a green thumb? The key to successful gardening, as you know, is timing! A gardening binder is a great way to keep track of the seasons and what you have done over the past year. With a gardening binder, you can record the date you have planted seeds or plants or done transplants, which plots seeds were placed in and when you expect them to rise, trends in the weather, where you purchased seeds, harvest dates for specific vegetables, pests to watch out for, companion planting tactics, and more.

Over the year, you will tally up useful observations that will help you become a better gardener! You won’t accidentally double-plant into the same plot, and you can use your notes to manage companion planting which will prevent pests. Place your old seed packets directly in the binder inside of sleeves so that you have all the detailed information on each plant available any time you need to reference it.

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Frugallysustainable

Hardware Binder – get those tangled cords in line!

This is another brilliant idea, this time from The Creativity Exchange. If you have a lot of technology in your home (and who doesn’t these days), you know what a mess all those cords and peripherals can turn into. Most of us have a stash of extra cords and wires we don’t want to get rid of, but don’t necessarily need to use right now. Maybe you also have some backup USB devices that you don’t use every day. Don’t you wish there were a way you could get all those supplies organized and out of your way?

The Hardware Binder is a brilliant way to do just that! You are going to need a massive binder for this. Get some large plastic Ziploc bags and start cataloguing your extra supplies. Coil up those wires and store them with the extra peripherals they actually belong to. Throw in your user manuals too! That way you have everything in one place and don’t have to hunt around later trying to figure out which wire goes with what. Punch holes through your bags and file them in the Hardware Binder. Genius!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Thecreativityexchange

Manual Binder

Related to the idea above, maybe you just want a binder where you can store all of your user manuals. Instead of a pile of appliance manuals collecting dust in your hall closet (never to be seen again, especially when you actually need them), you can file them nicely in a manual binder. Small manuals can be punched through and fit inside like normal pages. Larger manuals can be stored in plastic bags, just like you can do with the Hardware Binder above. You can use the tabs to sort manuals according to their purpose or area of the house. Like you might want a tab that says “Kitchen” and has manuals for all kitchen appliances, and another that says “Cleaning,” and so on. This is also a great way to store your warranties. You may want a separate binder for those, or you can throw them in with their respective manuals.

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Stayathomeista

DVD Binders

Are you a filmophile? These days it is pretty effortless to build a comprehensive film and television collection. When you can purchase used DVDs and Blu-Ray discs at incredible discounts, it is hard not to start piling up DVD cases. And let’s face it—if you collect television series, your problem is even worse, because a lot of those sets are not packaged to conserve space. What do you do when your collection starts taking up more shelf space than you have?

One idea is to pitch the original containers out and replace them with a set of binders. Yes, there are DVD storage binders you can buy, but they are often bulky and actually can be hard to use. Standard binders with CD sleeves can be easier to deal with, and you can make them much prettier. You will save a ton of space with this solution, and you will also have a much easier time finding things since you can categorize the DVDs any way you want. You could do an alphabetical thing, or you could organize according to genre, or use a combination of these methods. After you make DVD binders, you will have so much free space in your home you won’t know what to do with it.

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Thelovenerds

Organize your random ripped-out magazine pages.

If you have a lot of magazine subscriptions, odds are you tear out stuff you particularly like on a regular basis—cosmetic ideas, recipes, products you are interested in buying, articles you found particularly fascinating, etc. This allows you to throw out all the old magazines and retain the stuff you love—but you also probably have a pile of old magazine scraps that is out of control and incredibly hard and frustrating to search for to find what you want.

If that is the case, why not try putting them in a binder? You can set up tabs that help you find what you are looking for; the one in this photo is for holiday planning, and each tab is for a specific holiday. You could also have binders or tabs for beauty, recipes, products, simple home solutions, decorating, fashion, hardware, automotive tips, and more. While we’re at it, this is also a great way to save newspaper clippings! Yet another cool idea from Make Life Lovely!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Makelifelovely

Recipe binder

Recipe books are great, but a lot of the best recipes come from random places. Sometimes you find something amazing online and print it out—only to lose track of it later (and then you find the recipe has been deleted—oh no!). Or maybe you found a great recipe in a magazine and lost the clipping. And what about that amazing recipe that your friend wrote down for you, which has now completely disappeared?

Stop losing your recipes with a recipe binder. You can organize this any way you want with the tabs. You might go with types of foods, foods with certain ingredients as their main elements, or foods from different countries. You may want to have a section for “fast and easy” as well, and maybe even one for “budget meals.” Another cool idea is a tab for recipes that you haven’t yet tried, but want to make. That way you’ll be sure to never miss out on an amazing recipe that could become your new favorite thing to make. The sky is the limit here; you can do so many great things with a recipe binder!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Iheartorganizing

Make a teacher binder.

Do you mold young mind for a living? Binders are not only your students’ best friends, but yours as well. A teacher binder can help you to stay organized and sane, which is even harder for you than it is for them! For a teacher binder, you will need a heavy duty binder that will hold up to plenty of use, and pick dividers with pockets that you can write on and erase. Come up with a smart system for organizing and include sections like “Calendar,” “Student Info,” and so forth. A “Quick Reference” tab listing school policies, computer logins, schedules and more can be a huge help!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Luckeyfrogslilypad

Make a great student binder for college.

What if you are a student and not a teacher? You already know how challenging it is to keep up with your work and remember everything you need to do! Well-organized school binders can help you out. Buy some divider sheets and make them pretty! You will have an easier time staying organized if you love your class binders. Just look at this gorgeous class divider page for sociology. You can also see some of the sections, including Notes, Handouts and To Do. These sections help you quickly jump to exactly what you need. Never waste time digging through disorganized school supplies again! The less time you waste trying to find what you need, the more quickly you will get your homework done, and the higher your scores will be!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Theholladaylife

School binders are perfect for younger students too!

Parents! Do you have kids who absolutely cannot seem to keep their school stuff in order? Do you lament at the sight of their endless clutter? Do you worry they will lose their assignments? You can help them to stay organized by going a step further than just purchasing them a binder. You can take the time to set up the dividers and divider pages just like the college binder we talked about a moment ago. Those same sections work great for elementary and secondary school students! You can also buy them in bright colors and make them super cute and personalized so your kids will love them, like in the photo!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Thirtyhandmadedays

Easy baby book

If you’re the parent of a newborn (or you have a little bundle of joy on the way!), you know how important it is to capture all those special memories when they happen. The years go by so fast, and before you know it, your little sweetheart will be all grown up and heading for college.

One of the easiest ways to capture the memories is with a baby book binder like this one. As you can see, this is an easy way to journal about your baby and include photographs, mementos, and other keepsakes. The brown envelope you see in the photograph has the baby’s hospital bracelets! Very cute, easy to make, and perfect for preserving the memories of a special time that will never come twice.

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Newlywoodwards

School year keepsakes binder

As your child gets older, the artwork, schoolwork, awards, and other assorted memorabilia will start piling up fast! A lot of parents struggle to know where to put all of that stuff and wonder how much of it they can really hold onto. One great way to stay organized and save space is by using a keepsake binder like this one. You can keep awards, school papers that your child is particular proud of, artwork, photographs, and more! Each year you can start a new school year binder!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Heidiswapp

The family binder

Household binders are very popular tools nowadays, and online you will find a ton of great examples, and even free printables on many websites that you can use to make your own home binder. Pick a cute cover sheet, and then add tabs like Finance, Notes for Traveling, Home Maintenance, Calendar, Meal Planning, Coupons, and more! This is a wonderful way to keep all of your family organization paperwork in one place. Sometimes you need to cross reference sections (like maybe you want to look at Finance and Coupons before you plan next week’s meals). The binder makes it easy, and helps you to save time and money!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Iheartorganizing

A binder just for your budget

On a related note, what if your finances are especially complicated, or you just like to go more in-depth with your accounting than other people typically do? You may want to skip the Finance section in your family binder and make an entire binder just for budgeting instead. The binder you see here is tabbed according to months in the year, but you could also break down categories with tabs like Coupons, Budgeting, Receipts, Tax Documentation, and so forth. Use a sealable pocket (even a Ziploc bag will do) for your receipts. The website that gave us this idea, A Cultivated Nest, has a ton of free home accounting printables. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and check them out!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Acultivatednest

Editable binder covers.

These editable binder covers were put together for a teacher to print out for his or her students, but you could use them for just about anything, depending on what you decided to put in the text fields. You can choose any font and size you’d like, and you can also print these out in every color of the rainbow. This is an easy way to make beautiful binders for students, teachers, or for the home!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Teacherspayteachers

Holiday organizing binder

When fall rolls around each year and it’s almost time for Thanksgiving, and then Black Friday and the winter holidays, do you feel like you have it together? Or do you panic? A lot of us panic, because we realize that we have a ton of planning to do, and not enough time to do it in. There is just so much to keep track of if you want the holidays to be perfect.

One of the best solutions is a holiday organizing binder! You can have a binder with tabs for each holiday, or you can have several binders which have subcategories for each. For example, if you have a Christmas binder, you can have a section for a Calendar, another for a Holiday To Do list, another for gifts, another for gift ideas (you can print these out or tear them out of magazines), another for recipes, etc. This is the ultimate way to plan the best holiday season ever! Be sure to drop by IHeart Organizing to download their free holiday binder planning sheets!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Iheartorganizing

Dry-erase to-do list!

Do you have a regular daily or weekly routine, or even a longer annual routine? If so, you probably have a to-do list in your head that you are constantly marking boxes off on. Each day, week, month or year, you have to reset the list and start again. One cool way you can do this on paper (particularly useful for the shorter time periods) is the dry-erase to-do list.

This to-do list has a list of daily tasks that need to be remembered every day. As you can see, the paper sheet with the tasks has been pushed inside a laminated cover. With a dry-erase marker, you can check off the boxes each day—and then erase! The next morning, you will wake up with a fresh to-do list, empty and ready to mark off. Think about how much paper you can conserve this way. It is fast, easy, and it helps you keep track of those regular tasks that are so easy to forget!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Wecraftdaily

Wedding planning binder

Planning a wedding is a ton of work; to do a great job at it, many people feel you need to spend at least a year, possibly up to two. Most weddings are going to be expensive, but your wedding planning materials do not have to be. A simple binder and some sticky notes and kraft paper, and you should be ready to plan away. Helpful tabs can include Contacts, Scheduling, Budget, Inspiration (i.e. printouts), Attire, Venue, Flowers, Photography, Entertainment, Décor, Honeymoon, Guests, and Thank You’s! If you make your wedding binder beautiful, it will become a keepsake that you will treasure forever.

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Gloriajoy

Fitness binder to stay motivated.

Trying to lose a few pounds? Exercising can be a lot of fun, but staying the course can be a challenge as the weeks and months go by. A lot of us have a hard time sticking to our exercise programs and meeting our goals for weight loss and strength training. One cool tool you can use to stay on track is a fitness binder. You can save cut-outs from magazines here and printouts from the internet. You can have sections for different types of exercise instructions (a section for Cardio, a section for Strength Training, etc.).

You also could add a section for Inspiration, where you clip photos that remind you of the goals you are trying to reach. Another section could include your Schedule, and you could include a sheet where you keep track of your progress too! You may even want to create some kind of special “Rewards” section where you include ideas for little rewards you can give yourself when you do achieve your goals (maybe cut-outs from magazines with products you want to try).

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Tipsfromamomof3

Reusable binder pages

Here’s one way to keep things easy! Try reuseable binder pages. This works great with those divider pages that are nice and sturdy. The tabs help you find them, and you can use them again and again if you stick post-it notes on them instead of writing directly on them. This is a great example from Thirty Handmade Days; you can see the caption “This Week for Dinner,” on the top. Instead of writing on the page and having to tear it out and put in a new one every week, she just adds and removes post-it notes with the different dinners scheduled for the week. It’s simple, it’s colorful, and it keeps things fast and easy!

This would be a great system to use for all sorts of regular scheduling tasks. Just imagine the possibilities. “This Week’s Projects,” “This Week’s Errands,” “This Week’s Chores,” and so on. What a wonderful system!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Thirtyhandmadedays

Laminate pages you use frequently

With any home binder, there are going to be pages that you turn back to again and again. If you keep doing that, they are likely to get crumpled and smudged. One way you can prevent that is to protect them by laminating them. They will stay neat and easy to read, and you also will have an easier time locating them and flipping to them right away when you pick up the binder.

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Somewhatsimple

Personalize your binders to make them more fun

Get your creative juices flowing when you are making your binders! If you don’t, you may find it hard to get into using binders. When you allow yourself to be artistic, you have more fun, and it feels more personal. We just love this binder on Thirty Handmade Days. It’s pretty and brightly colored, and with the fun fonts and design, it says something about its owner’s personality. This particular binder is an accountability binder for a child—but that doesn’t mean that this is just a great idea for kids! It is also a perfect idea for the kid in you. As the binder’s designer says herself, “I get excited looking at all my pretty binders in a row.”

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Thirtyhandmadedays

Get fancy with fabric

Looking for a really amazing idea to make your binders pretty? This idea from the Uncluttered Lifestyle is one of our favorite ideas for binders yet. If you have a binder for a special purpose that does not need a paper cover (like the DVD collection binder the author of the post was decorating), a fabric cover is a really cool choice! You can head to the fabric store and pick up some textile that matches your personality. Choose something with a fun texture; for 4 binders you will need around 2 yards. Get some spray adhesive and some book plates.

Cut the fabric to fit, leaving an extra half inch to an inch on all sides. Cut the corners so that there will not be any overlap when you fold the edges over the top and bottom of the binder (to prevent a bulge). Start by adhering the fabric to the front flap. Close the binder, then adhere to the spine, then the back flap. If the binder is open when you do that, it will be too tight to close the binder. You can then cut extra pieces to adhere to the inside covers. Finally, get your book plate and adhere it to the side of the binder with the label for the binder! This is an amazing way to transform an ordinary binder into something that looks fancy, formal, and rather upscale. It will no longer feel at all like an office supply!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Unclutteredlifestyle

Stay organized with a baby with a household organization binder

Earlier we talked about a binder for baby keepsakes, and we also talked about a household binder. The reality is, when you have a new bundle of joy in your life, your household is going to be a lot different for a few years. The household binder you use for most years just is not going to be fully applicable. You have a totally unique set of responsibilities to take care of when there is a baby in the house.

This idea combines the household organization binder and baby binder. Many of the tabs will be about the same—Grocery Lists, Budget, Calendars, and so on. But you also will probably have some unique sections. You might have a section for Daycare, and another for special Baby Supplies. You also may have a section on Toys, and so on. Another idea would be to keep your general household binder separate, and have a baby planning binder where you keep track of what you need to buy for your baby over the years, and activities you want to do. Raising a little boy or girl is very complicated, and a binder can help you make it much simpler!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Ginaraemillerphotography

Make your binder clips pretty using washi tape

Washi tape, if you aren’t familiar with it, is a crafting supply which you can do about a zillion things with. It is a form of masking tape from Japan that is made out of washi paper. Washi tape comes in lots of different colors and patterns. If you do not have access to washi tape, you can totally make your own if you buy some patterned tissue paper and double-sided tape. Just apply the paper to one side of the tape and cut strips, and you’ll be ready to go.

Here you can see a set of binder clips which have been covered in washi tape. As you can see, it transforms them instantly into very pretty clips, and makes them feel a lot less office-y. Perfect for your personalized home organization binder!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Artsyville

Finally, if you love the idea above for beautifying your binder clips, imagine making them even more amazing. These binder clips have been ornamented with little ribbons, flowers, and labels. They look amazingly adorable, and the labeled ones are perfect for keeping things organized and inspirational. These adorable binder clips not only are perfect for your own organizational binders, but they also make amazing gifts for likeminded friends!

DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Mylovelyinspirations

Now you have a lot of awesome ideas for using binders in fun and innovative ways to organize your household, and you know how to make them look amazing! Organizing with binders takes some time to set up, but once you start, you’ll have so much fun you won’t be able to stop! And after you have your binder systems all set up, they will save you time, money and headaches. Running your household will be easier than ever!

How do you use binders to stay organized? Do you have any cool tips for making binders beautiful? Share with us in the comments below!

21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done

You may think that you don’t have time to organize your office, but if you really knew how much time that disorganization cost you, you’d reconsider. Rearranging and moving piles occasionally doesn’t count. Neither does clearing off your desk, if you swipe the mess into a bin, or a desk drawer. A relatively neat and orderly office space clears the way for higher productivity and less wasted time.

Organizing your office doesn’t have to take days, it can be done a little at a time. In fact maintaining an organized office is much more effective if you treat it like an ongoing project, instead of a massive assault. So, if you’re ready to get started, the following tips will help you transform your office into an efficient workspace.

Great Tips to Organize Your Office Space

  1. Purge your office – De-clutter, empty, shred, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Look around. What haven’t you used in a while? Take one area at a time. If it doesn’t work, send it out for repair or toss it. If you haven’t used it in months and can’t think of when you’ll actually need it, out it goes. This goes for furniture, equipment, supplies, etc. Don’t forget about knick-knacks, plants (real or artificial), and decorations – if they’re covered with dust and make your office look shabby, they’re fair game.
  2. Gather and redistribute – Gather up every item that isn’t where it belongs and put it where it does.
  3. Establish work “zones” – Decide what type of activity happens in each area of your office. You’ll probably have a main workspace (most likely your desk,) a reference area (filing cabinet, shelves, binders,) and a supply area (closet, shelves or drawers.) Place the appropriate equipment and supplies are located in the proper area as much as possible.
  4. Close proximity – Position the equipment and supplies that you use most within reach. Things that you rarely use can be stored or put away.
  5. Get a good labeler – Choose a label maker that’s simple to use. Take the time to label shelves, bins, baskets drawers. Not only will it remind you where things go, but it will also help others who may have a need to find, use, or put away anything in your workspace.
  6. Revise your filing system – As we move fully into the digital age, the need to store paper files has decreased. What can your store digitally? Are you duplicating files? You may be able to eliminate some of the files and folders you’ve used in the past. If you’re storing files on your computer, make sure you are doing regular back-ups. Some quick tips for creating a smooth filing system:
  7. Create a meeting folder – Put all “items to be discussed” in there along with items that need to be handed off, reports that need to be given, etc. It’ll help you be prepared for meetings and save you stress in the even that a meeting is moved up.
  8. Create a WOR folder – So much of our messy papers are things that are on hold until someone else responds or acts. Corral them in a WOR (Waiting on Response) folder. Check it every few days for outstanding actions you may need to follow-up on.
  9. Clear off your desk – Remove everything, clean it thoroughly and put back only those items that are essential for daily use.
  10. Organize your desktop – Now that you’ve streamlined you desktop, it’s a good idea to organize it. Use desktop organizers or containers to organize the items on your desk. Use trays for papers, containers for smaller items.
  11. Organize your drawers – Put items used together in the same drawer space, stamps with envelopes, sticky pads with notepads, etc. Use drawer organizers for little items – paper clips, tacks, etc. Use a separate drawer for personal items.
  12. Separate inboxes – If you work regularly with other people create a folder, tray, or inbox for each.
  13. Clear your piles – Hopefully with your new organized office, you won’t create piles of paper anymore, but you still have to sort through the old ones. Go through the pile (a little at a time if necessary) and put it in the appropriate place or dump it.
  14. Sort mail – Don’t just stick mail in a pile to be sorted or rifle through and take out the pieces you need right now. Sort it as soon as you get it – To act, To read, To file, To delegate or hand off. .
  15. Assign discard dates – You don’t need to keep every piece of paper indefinitely. Mark on files or documents when they can be tossed or shredded. Some legal or financial documents must be kept for specified length of time. Make sure you know what those requirements are.
  16. Storage boxes – Use inexpensive storage boxes to keep archived files and get them out of your current file space.
  17. Magazine boxes – Use magazine boxes or binders to store magazines and catalogs you really want to store. Please make sure you really need them for reference or research, otherwise recycle them, or give away.
  18. Reading folder – Designate a file for print articles and documents you want to read that aren’t urgent.
  19. Archive files – When a project is complete, put all of the materials together and file them away. Keep your “working folders” for projects in progress.
  20. Straighten your desk – At the end of the day do a quick straighten, so you have a clean start the next day.
  21. File weekly – Don’t let your filing pile up. Put your papers in a “To File” folder and file everything once a week.

Use one tip or try them all. The amount of effort you put into creating and maintaining an efficient work area will pay off in a big way. Instead of spending time looking for things and shuffling piles, you’ll be able to spend your time…well…working.

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