7 Steps to Deal with Papers

As we’re in the Home Office space this month, let’s talk organising your paperwork! I love a good paperwork session, but I know, from experience, how overwhelming people can find it. Break it down into steps to make it easier and know that you can take a break at the end of each step.

1. Find all the papers in your home – that is, everything that has been written on with the intention for you to read it (except books and magazines!) and that is not sentimental.

2. Find a large, clear space to work on. It could be a table – many times when I am doing this, I end up on the floor!

3. Sort into general categories, for example, bills, receipts, pensions paperwork, certificates and passports, manuals, newspaper clippings etc.

4. Go through each piece and decide if it.

a. Recycle – any piece that is unnecessary and has no personal information.

b. Shred – any piece that is unnecessary and has personal information.

c. Pending – any piece of paper that has something on it that needs an action.

d. Frequent Use – anything that needs to be referred to frequently.

e. Important Documents – birth &marriage certificates for example.

f. Limited time – anything that you need to keep, but for only a set length of time (such as tax documentation).

g. Deep archive – anything that needs to be kept indefinitely, but does not need frequent access, such as building warrants.

5. Action anything that needs to be dealt with.

6. File the remaining.

a. Papers that need frequent access – for example, home management binder. Somewhere that is extremely easy to access, possibly a drawer or space in the kitchen.

b. Papers that need occasional access – for example car documents in a filing cabinet in an office.

c. Papers that barely need access – for example, old tax paperwork, building warranties. These can be put into a space that is not very accessible, such as the top of a tall cupboard. Do not store in the loft or garage though.

d. Grab papers – very important papers, such as passports and birth certificates. In a fireproof/waterproof folder that is easy to grab in an emergency.

7. Deal with future papers.

a. Unsubscribe from junk mail.

b. Deal with post as soon as it enters and keep a pair of shredding scissors by the recycling bin.

c. Set aside a time each week to file items.


For longer blogs find them on Papers and Paper Organising.

For an entire chapter on paperwork, buy my book.


If you buy through any of these links, I may get a commission at no extra cost to you.