Within reach (organizing the paper)

January 15, 2013

I’m on a mission to get clutter control around here – one little project at a time. Today I’m sharing a little purchase that has already helped me a ton. We’ll see if I can keep it up. :)

Anyone remember that post about the PAPER and how I had come up with an idea to keep it contained and organized in my house? Well, that’s SOOOO not happening anymore. It was a nice few months. I am a piler, I’m embracing my piling and I’m proud of it!!

OK, not proud at all.

The paper is really my biggest clutter foe in our house. It’s mostly contained downstairs, usually in the kitchen and the office. OH, and the CAR. Oh. The car.

I’ve tried a few different methods and I finally succumbed to the fact that I just suck at organizing the paper that comes into our house. I know, I’ve heard the whole ‘touch it once thing’ -- I tried that for a few days and then laughed and laughed because it just wasn’t happening.

Anyway, it ends up in piles like these in my office:



That whole box is full by the way – that’s why there’s a stack on top, duh.  ;)

And then there’s the desk pile:

desk clutter

Honestly? That pile is not usually a pile. Usually it’s just spread out over the desk. And then that sweet kitty up there (looking so innocent) ends up swiping half of them off the desk onto the floor. She thinks it’s fun. I think she needs a new hobby.

Thing is, my desk doesn’t have a lick of storage. That’s what you get when you use an old farmhouse table as a desk. I love how large it is, so I’m happy to trade storage for the large surface. Also, we keep our file cabinet downstairs in hubby’s office. There’s just more room down there and we’ve had it in the basement for years, even before we finished it.

So I realized a couple months ago that I don’t have a spot handy to put paperwork that needs to be filed. I sit at my desk, go through the paper and mail, sort it into piles (recycle, shred, to do, file) and then it seems nine times out of ten at least a couple of those piles seem to just sit on the desk. And then the next day I’ll put something else on it, and then again, and then the sorted pile isn’t sorted anymore and I needed to stop. the. madness.

So I found this at Staples:

wall file holder martha stewart

Isn’t it so pretty? It’s just a small hanging file folder from the Martha Stewart line, I think it was $5.99? I had never seen that line of supplies until recently and it was heavenly.

I added some labels with my label maker that usually has hearts fluttering out of it (because I love it so):

wall file holder

And I wanted to put it within reach – where I could just file away stuff as I sat at my desk. Thing is, the spot where my desk sits isn’t really conducive to doing that – it’s all windows.

So I went under the window:

wall file holder

I’m a function over form girl most of the time, but I gotta admit I wondered if it would look goofy there. But you really can’t see it:

wall file holder

It’s mostly hidden by the drapes (that I just move aside when I need to access it) and I have to say, I think the little pop of color hiding out is kind of fun.

I don’t notice it when I walk in the room, that’s for sure:

board and batten walls

Now, when it gets full (like now), I can just take a big pile of paper down and file it. That and the to do pile are no longer on my desk all the time, which is HUGE to me.

Now…we’ll see if it works. Most times when I try to keep the paper corralled it works great for a few months and then I get lazy. If I made resolutions I’d make one to keep the paper under control. But I don’t…so I won’t. ;) But I will TRY.

What are your paper organization tricks? Any simple solutions that help you out?

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  1. OH my goodness your office is adorable! I LOVE the colors. When it comes to my paper organization I sort everything in my family organizational binder. I adore it, and it has helped so unbelievably much!

  2. Love that little file folder and the color? Swoon. I'm a "piler" for sure, but I started a new trick in my car that I love a few weeks ago!

    I bought a medium rectangular coupon organizer in the dollar section at Target and I put all my receipts for the month in there as soon as I leave the store or if I have a minute in the car line at school, etc. The plan is to take them out at the end of each month and data entry, file and trash as needed. It's made such a difference in my purse and car and random receipts everywhere and now if I have to return something I just go to the little Target tab for example and there it is!

  3. I WILL sort out clutter this year, well that's my plan, and I too bought some of the Martha Stewart files to get it under control, so thank you for showing how you're using the files :)

  4. Thanks for making me feel like I'm not the only one. I am the biggest pile maker around. If I could pop a photo in this comment, I know it would make you feel like you are the most organized person on the planet.;) for real.

  5. What label maker do you use? I've been trying to decide on one. I would love a recommendation.

  6. I'm *such* a piler! It drives my husband nuts, but I eventually get to all of the piles and file/trash/read/etc them. We're revamping our study this weekend and adding a filing cabinet, so that should help take care of a lot of my piles. Good luck with yours!

  7. I am totally not trying to burst your bubble here, I am just sympathizing with you...I have the EXACT same trouble with paper and I am a shredder, just like you. However, the shredding gets done maybe once a year. Probably less. And I am also lacking a filing cabinet, so papers get piled everywhere.

    I tried the same idea as yours a while back, but within months the folders had warped horribly because I kept forgetting (read: kept being too lazy) to empty them. And then one day they unceremoniously fell off the wall. I had killed them.

    I do hope you have better luck with this solution than me!

    I think we may need to start a support group or something...

  8. I am a piler big time! There is one dining chair that my children know to not even try to sit in because it is where I hide my pile (slide in the chair and no one can see it :) Once the pile is too tall and the papers start falling to the floor, then I (usually -sadly not always) file them. Two things that have saved my little piler life: the neat desk scanner -all those receipts that my husband insists we keep just in case the leaf blower we bought in 1999 breaks; long term documents, etc. get scanner onto the hard drive and then shredded. The other one is using the camera on my phone - when my five year old brings home precious artwork that I love but do not necessarily need to wallpaper the kitchen with -take a picture of him holding his masterpiece and then it can be tossed out guilt free. :) Love all your great ideas!

  9. Love this! I have all our bills and boring stuff filed away but there are a few kids' papers for school and sports that we need to have handy and if I file them away I'll forget about them and so they sit on the kitchen counter and get wet and soppy and...
    Phew. I'm totally buying a hanging folder like this.

  10. Love the idea of the file folders (and they are so pretty). I have piles of paper everywhere, so I definitely need to organize myself! Thanks for posting :)


  11. I'm a piler too! I finally found a system that I love, it is called Mind Organization for Moms. I truly, TRULY love how it works. It is for organizing your life, and projects - not just papers.

    I loved it for the months I was doing it, then I had out of state company coming to stay for over a week, and I didn't keep up on it. Then we had everything that happened at the end of last year just overwhelm our life and I never got back to it. But it is my goal to get back on top of it before this baby gets here!

  12. I love your office. The light that matches the drapes is absolutely adorable.

    @Nicole-I need to try that neat scanner. Not sure if I would use the filing system as much. That's a WONDERFUL idea with taking a picture of the artwork and then disposing of it (discreetly of course because my daughter seems to look in the trash. She then get on me about throwing it away).

  13. Haha oh man, I am a paper piler, too! We should form a group - there's a lot of us out there. I love this idea, though. I Heart Organizing had some tips, too, about filing paper today. I need to take both of your cues and go get some filing folders.

  14. I have to first confess that "stacking" is one of my many faults. It drives me crazy!(short drive my husband says:) I work with individuals with acquired brain injuries and one of the many strategies I give them related to keeping things organized is the "touch it once" concept. For example, when you get your mail, bring it in and go through everything 1 time and put it where it belongs (preferably not in a pile:) Put it in the trash, to be filed, your purse, etc... It has helped (all of us) tremendously!

  15. Totally saw those Martha Stewart file folders at Staples! I LOVED them too!!


  16. I'm still dealing with the piles and am probably going to use a similar system to yours.

    I do have a system though about the "final resting place" (ha!) of some of our papers - going for a much more digital method. I throw out all of our owner's manuals and find the PDF's on the manufacturer's website and store them online in my Google Docs account (http://almostneverclever.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/how-to-get-rid-of-all-your-owners-manuals/). Personal papers that I need record of but not a hard copy I run through the scanner at work and also save on Google Docs.

  17. Thanks for sharing. This is my biggest housekeeping problem too. I hate getting rid of piles of paper and magazines. I find I need whatever I through within days:) But every once in awhile I wake up with a glint in my eye and tackle the stacks and when company comes I simply put on top of my washer and drier and shut the door:)
    I am glad I am not alone.

  18. I completely feel your pain, Sarah -- after almost 20 years of parenting and 22 years of housekeeping, you'd think I'd have this figured out!! Thanks for the tip... I think I just have to get DILIGENT about it. :-P Pooh.
    xo Heidi

  19. I pile too. Last year I bought a standing organizer at Target to try and manage the ever growing stack. It is attractive and has worked somewhat, but there is still a small pile in front of it.

  20. Ha! I totally remember your last paper post, because I completely relate to the whole car thing. It's a little embarrassing when I'm dropping my son off in the preschool carpool line.

    You'll be glad to know I'm not doing much better than you in the paper control dept. We bought a paper shredder, and you know how many papers I've shredded? Zero. The shredder is still in its box and is being used inside the dog crate to make it small enough for our new puppy. We're classy like that.

  21. I guess if we looked at filing and organizing as part of our job and gave ourselves a title then maybe we would be more consistent!? That seems to be the key that gets lost too often! It really would not require much time if done each day. Yes, I am talking to myself!

  22. Believe me, I understand how frustrating dealing with all the paper that comes into our lives can be. Filing is the most tedious thing and so things end up sitting in piles until I can't stand it any more. Thing is I have already set up several organizing helpers....file drawers with hanging folders, individual expandable files, cubby holes in the desk, a couple of file boxes, labelled folders, a basket or two. And a box a year for archiving! Yep, all done and in use and mostly FULL! So I still have piles on the desk, in a cabinet, and a few things on the floor. Sigh....
    By the way, when I say you have "piles" of paper I had to giggle. That's not clutter! If I had the amount of paper clutter that you show in your pictures, I would be in organized 7th heaven! I'm a lot older than you so maybe I just accumulate more because I've been at it longer than you! LOL! Good luck with your new system.

  23. I use a vintage toast rack for storing paperwork until I get to it. Bought it on eBay ages ago and it works so well and looks pretty!

  24. Argh! Organisation is my nemesis, so I can totally sympathise. I've got some pretty polka dot folders for important documents, but otherwise I try to stay paperless. It's not always possible, but I get all my bills and statements emailed to me and then I store them online to print off when needed. I love your idea though and the bright blue looks fab peeking out from behind the drapes.

  25. I finally filed my stack just before Christmas and realized there was almost a year of paperwork. It doesn't help that my office is upstairs, so the papers get piled in the kitchen. And living room. And maybe dining room. I don't think anything will help me unless/until I change my mindset and laziness. Now there's a toughie.... :P

  26. I can totally relate to your paper issues! Ask anyone! I'm always looking at my piles of paper. Well.....not always. That's my problem. I mostly ignore them so they grow and turn into these overwhelming monster piles that take forever to sort out.

    Anyway......what are you going to do when those cute little staples files get full? Haha!


  27. Okay, BUT when are you going to lug all the papers downstairs to hubby's office for actual filing? That's where your system will struggle. I just learned on the quick and easy clutter control workshop from organizing101.com that my problem was exactly that. It needs to be near where you go through your papers so you skip a step. My "to file" file always got HUGE and never got filed.

  28. Great idea! I love the hanging lamp. Do you have a tutorial on how you created that? There is a really dark spot in my home's family room (over our sectional), and a hanging lamp might be a good way to get rid of it.

  29. Paper clutter is definitely something I fight with every day. My husband loves to just dump the mail or any other paper on our counter. It drives me crazy!
    Love your solution for helping with paper clutter :)

  30. I recently moved my shredder to the kitchen (first floor) from the office (second floor) to cut down on the "shred" pile of junk mail. Also, I have a cute tray that catches all the "file away" items. Huge help!


  31. Every Jan. 1st I label one box with the year - I call it my "Tax Box" and it's kept in the office closet out of sight. Every receipt or important paper that I need to keep (that isn't saved online) goes in that box. Obviously the copy of our tax return goes in there, too. All year I just toss stuff in there and forget about it (unless I need to look for something). Magazines or catalogs go in my bedside table until I look at them. Business cards go in my purse. Receipts are kept until the item is washed, then they are tossed. Everything else is trashed immediately.

  32. I wish I had a dedicated office. For now it is the dining room table. I do all my work including blogging from there. I've worked it down to one in box and so far so good!

  33. Love your kitty in the photos! She's a mess! (that's a good thing-ha)

  34. I love the Martha Stewart line as well. I just recently discovered it after searching for a cookbook. Not the cookbook already filled with recipes but the one where you scribble all of your family favorites and then pass it on to the next generation. It's a smaller binder style - I bought the corresponding tabs and lined sheets. Now I can finally ditch the duo-tang (so elementary school). :)


    I love Aubusson Blue in the foyer... that color is to die for!!

  35. So cute!! I tackled this project a while back, and just got a very simple file box and some folders for everything. Every day when I get the mail, I open, sort, and file. I do have an "inbox" for anything that has to be dealt with or paid that I try to tackle by the end of the week. On Sundays I go through my inbox. It's a lot less stressful dealing with it on a daily basis for just a few minutes than having a daunting task of papers to sort staring at me while I'm at my desk :)

  36. As I pick my mail up from the mailbox, I stand by the trash can outside and throw out all the junk mail, take out all necessary documents out of the envelopes and toss those as well. I only bring in paper that requires me to do something or pay something. This has helped me keep the paper clutter to a minimum.

  37. Right inside the door of our apartment are two filing organization. Each have file folders.
    One of them is this:
    *Great for those random pens around the kitchen/living room area, hubby's checkbook, sticky notes,etc
    *And the other one is just the same thing but just the "box" part in the back. It's GREAT!
    *The files: mail, hubby, wife, and taxes
    *The other box has files for: bills, calendar (invites etc), church, coupons (also tabs for food, groceries, baby, other), our daughters random keepsakes, and then the important one "to file". We have a cabinet in our office. That I recently organized before we had our baby 10/4/12. Something I was capable of doing 9 mo prego or else I would've gone crazy!! :)

  38. It's hard to imagine your office looking cluttered! It's so beautiful!

    Your ASCP post yesterday inspired me to do a post about all my painting in ASCP blues... I think I have a sickness! ha!


    I even "borrowed" a picture of your beautiful entry and linked back to you.

    Have a great day!

  39. MomHome, I do! Here you go: http://thriftydecorchick.blogspot.com/2010/05/diy-drum-shade-chandelier.html

  40. Love your office, especially the curtains and lamp cover, so so pretty. You sure have alot of great light in your office.
    Most of my paper clutter is from projects I print out continuously since I'm on my pc every day printing out the incredible projects I see.
    I got tired of looking at all of them in a pile so I bought some great little plastic see thru binders at $tree and dividers. I make up a notebooks for certain kinds of projects and file them in binders in plastic sleeves. I try to do this at least 2 or 3 times a week to keep it from overcoming me, been successful so far. Unless I run out of plastic sleeves, then I stick the papers in front of notebook so I can see they're waiting. Just one little tip. It's much easier now when I want to look up a project or get some inspiration. I keep the binders on my desk right next to pc so I won't be as lazy about tending to what I've printed out.
    Looking for spot I can subscribe to your great blog so I can receive your posts all the time.

  41. GREAT idea! I have a desk that I love, but it has absolutely no storage in it. I'm also an English teacher, and paper seems to follow me and form into piles wherever I go. I love this solution!


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