Family Paper Clutter Control: Organizing Your Office

Our office was getting out of control! So I decided to figure out why. First of all, I’m a busy mom. I could use that as an excuse. But I really think my problem was not practicing what I preach: putting things away. Well, that’s not it exactly. The real problem is not creating places to put things so where do they end up? On top of my desk.

Office Before

Office After

Office After

Organizing your desk and the papers and mail that come across it can be easy if you understand the #1 organizational principle: everything has its place. Having the self-control to put things away is another issue. You can’t put something away if it doesn’t have a place to go. So, you have to create those places.

Every day go through all the paperwork that comes across your desk. Trash, shred, file or act on each item. If you don’t have time to get to it today, put it in your TO DO file.

I also rearranged our office so it was less cluttered and had greater harmony. We removed the hutches from the tops of the desks to lighten up the room. And removed 90% of the books and put them in other places in the house that were more appropriate. After drawing a floor plan on graph paper, the furniture was completely rearranged. Some of my ideas came from the Feng Shui books and videos listed at the end of this post.

The Pencil Jar – How many pens and pencil do you really need? I used to cram too many into this glass jar. I threw some away, and put others in the school supply drawer. Now I can see what I need. Purchased at Deseret Industries thrift store for $1.00.

The Lamp – I used to complain about the lack of light on my desk. So, I finally got rid of my old metal spotlight, and exchanged it for this pretty one. I love having this on my desk! Purchased at Big Lots for $10.00.

The Plant – I finally put a happy potted plant (silk) on my desk. It is cheerful and bright. Purchased at a local florist for $12.00. And see that picture of hubby and me? I get to see him everyday.

The Vertical Letter File – What a difference this file has made! I used to have a horizontal desk file. But all I did was stack more and more in it. With my TO DO upright, it’s easy to grab and go through. I also keep a notepad, and checks I’ve written to be mailed later.

Plastic Drawers -Each is labeled with the items inside. I have four of these that hold our school supplies, paper, envelopes, etc.
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Calendar – I use Microsoft Outlook on my computer. My husband and I send items back and forth to each other. I transfer important items for the kids onto a dry erase board calendar in the kitchen.

Household Files – I have two large file drawers for all our my files. I purchased a small black file drawer for my husband too. Even after I cleaned it out, I still have lots of files.
– Phone Lists: This file holds all types of phone lists. Teach kids to put the phone list back in the folder.
Calendars: This file holds all sorts of calendars you don’t want to throw away such as school district calendar, church calendar, sport calendar, gym class calendar, city newsletter/calendar, etc.
School Folders: I have a different folder for each school my children attend. I file school menus, newsletters, teacher handouts, school schedules, yearbook purchase receipts, etc.
Travel: This file is for reservations, tickets, travel itinerary, travel reward cards, maps, etc.
– Letters: This file holds letters and printed emails from friends and family that you may need to look at again someday.
– Pictures: This file is for family pictures, school pictures, wedding announcements you want to keep, etc. and plan to put somewhere else later.
– Christmas: This file is for Christmas gift ideas that come to mind throughout the year, mailing labels I didn’t use last year, gift lists, etc.
Important Papers – Label each file folder, then file alphabetically into several hanging files. You can fit a few file folders into each hanging file. As you file papers, put the oldest in the back of the folder, newest in the front. Each January, remove these file folders (not the hanging files), and store them in a box labeled with the year. Then make new file folders for the coming year. Some files are not stored away, but are permanent as you will see below. If you want more ideas go to MyLifeIn a where you can buy an organizer to help you sort all of your legal, financial, and personal documents. File ideas:

Auto Repairs/Insurance: File everything related to your autos here. I keep the Auto Insurance Policy in the back of the file, and put it in a new folder each January.
Bills: File all bill statements here, and separate each account with a sheet of colored paper that has the account name on it.
Checking/Savings: File all receipts and statements related to checking and savings accounts here. Use a different folder for each account. I hang onto more receipts than most people, but it has saved me time and time again when I need to return something.
Credit/loans: File credit card companies and various loans here. Separate each company with a sheet of colored paper.
Homeowner’s or Rental Insurance: File homeowner’s or rental papers here. Keep the most current policy here.
Investments: File investment statements here.
Life Insurance: (permanent): File life insurance papers here.
Medical Insurance: File medical bills and insurance statements here.
Medical/Personal Records (permanent): File family medical and personal information here. Give each person a colored paper with their name on it, and then file eye prescriptions, copies of birth certificates, immunization cards, copy of social security numbers, etc.
Pet (permanent): File pet vet records and statements here.
Pay Stubs: File pay stubs here.
Taxes: File anything tax related here. A great time saver.

Warranty Files – Keep warranties from various purchases in files such as:


Fireproof Safe/Safety Deposit Box – Things to keep in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box:
1. Current insurance policies
2. Passports
3. Birth certificates and marriage certificate
4. CD with scans of family’s doctors, prescription medications, copy of immunization records, etc.
5. CD’s or flash drives of family photos
6. Important keys, safety deposit box keys (in safe)
7. Investments papers, stock certificates, retirement plans, bank accounts, credit account numbers, credit cards not being used, etc.
8. Original social security cards
9. Powers of attorney, living wills, health care proxies, etc.
10. Home deeds, titles, title insurance
11. Inventory of home items
12. Coins, valuable jewelry, savings bonds, etc.

Memory Files – I have a hanging file for each family member. As family memory items come across my desk that I want to keep, I file them here. Each summer, it will be organized in a Memory Binder for each person (perhaps!). Examples are: recital programs, achievement certificates, blessing certificates, pictures, report cards, etc.

Miscellaneous Binders – Use 1” binders for miscellaneous storage of paperwork or projects. Some examples include:

Scout Binder: each boy has his own binder to hold awards and advancement items
Mission Binder: each missionary has a binder that I put memories from his mission
Home Decorating: holds magazine pictures of ideas I collect for decorating, and future home purchases
Family Goals Book: has a tab with each child’s name we use it for goal setting.
Food Storage: holds food storage lists and tips.
Computer Games: holds CD’s for computer games.
Wedding Planning: holds ideas for wedding planning.

CONCLUSION – As you find a place for everything, clutter will disappear. You are able to find things, whereas before you couldn’t seem to remember where anything was. Removing paper clutter removes stress. Good luck on making changes in your life!

Favorite Book – Feng Shui Your Work Spaces by Sharon Stasney.
Videos – Feng Shui Spring Cleaning Your Office

How to Feng Shui Your Workplace

2 thoughts

  1. Thanks for the great ideas. I love the memory scrapbook idea. I keep a file right now but I haven’t put it into anything. That would be fun for the kids to look through and remember.

  2. I may be a hopeless cause in the organization field, but there are some really good ideas here!! ;o) Maybe I can apply a few and simplfy a little.You may be getting a lot of hits from our family, near & extended. I've linked you to mine and Richar's blogs. You've done a lot of AWESOME research and work here!!Thanks and Happy New Year!!Holly

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