NAPO Michigan Blog / Media Center

The Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers invites you to explore this blog so you can be informed of the latest news, events and trends in the organizing industry.

September 1, 2011

Five Steps to Organizing Household Papers

It’s the time you spend looking for that lost school permission slip, the unpaid bill, or the receipt you need for your income taxes that can motivate you to organize your household paperwork. The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan wants to share some insight on organizing household papers in five easy steps.

Step 1: Collect. Start by gathering all your papers, including the mail dumped on the kitchen counter, the pile of paper next to the recliner, and school documents still in backpacks. Clear off the papers posted on the fridge. Also gather your checkbook, pens and paperclips, stamps and envelopes, and file folders (full or empty).

Step 2: Sort. Now you can sort the papers into piles of similar items. You’ll find that what you consider to be “like” items will show you how to file paperwork later on. For example, did you sort by the type of item (utility bills, medical records, and purchase receipts) or by family member? Children’s artwork and school reports should be stored separately from the household papers. (Saving children’s materials is an organizing specialty of its own!)

Step 3: Purge. This should be fun! Rarely is there a lot of sentiment to overcome in tossing out junk mail and expired coupons. Be sure the pencil stubs and dead ballpoints are tossed, too. Recycle discarded papers, and shred items with personal information. The sense of accomplishment you get at this stage is worth all the effort!

Step 4: File. Create your file folders and put the papers in them. If you have a lot to file every month, consider hanging folders for speedy access and durability. If you have only a few categories, paper folders should be able to stand the stress. Some important items may need to be stored in a safe, a fireproof box, or bank safety deposit box.

Step 5: Pick a place. Your home office might be a single drawer in an efficiency apartment, a file cabinet in the family room and a basket of supplies you carry around, a desk area in your kitchen, or the luxury of a whole room designed as an office.

Remember that the joy of an organized household office is not in having everything put away, but in being able to find anything immediately without any stress! For more organizing tips, visit
Article submitted by Chapter Treasurer, Sue Elder.