A desk sorter, a basket and a filing cabinet….

Jenny over at Mamalicious has asked me how I tame my paper monster. Please know that what I’m about to share is what is currently working for ME. This could change any time…like the next time I’m having a bad day and need to get into the Zone!

There really isn’t much to my system but I think it may take a bit to explain so I do apologize for boring you in advance. I deal with all my paperwork immediately. In other words each piece of paper that comes into my house is handled by ME, not my hubbie (no, no, no) and put into its designated space pronto. My bills to be paid have a home, flyers have a home, receipts have a home, pretty much anything coming in can be put directly into a preassigned space of some kind. Junk mail goes directly to the GARBAGE!

There isn’t much to my paper system. It consists of a desk sorter, a basket and a filing cabinet. That’s it really. So in order for my explanation to make some sort of sense let me set you up with some pictures first. Here is my desk:

See that little black thingy beside the computer screen? That’s my desk sorter. I couldn’t live without it. It’s a little full so its hard to see and it did frighten me to think about emptying it to give you a closer look so here is one that it looks similar to:

My filing cabinet sits directly behind my computer chair and it looks like this:

The first slot of my desk sorter holds an envelope. This envelope is where all receipts (debit/visa) go that haven’t been entered into Quicken and yes I have my hubbie trained to put his receipts there too. I track all of our finances using the Quicken program. Once these receipts have been entered they move to the little green basket that you see in the picture above. This green basket holds an envelope for visa receipts and the cash/debit receipts….I usually only keep these receipts for three months or so. Of course any major purchase receipts I keep stapled to the manual and filed in here.

Also in the first slot of the desk sorter is where I put any bills that need to be paid. After that I have a pocket size calendar where I keep track of paydates and payments due. The next couple of slots after that hold information about items I’m waiting on or that require some sort of action in the near future. For instance, when I submit prescription receipts to our insurance carrier I will photocopy the receipts and stick them here until I get the cheque back. Once I have received the cheque back the papers get moved to my “to file pile” which is located in the wicker basket on top of my filing cabinet. Another example would be rebate forms I’ve submitted and am waiting on a cheque for. The purpose of this is so that I can ensure I have received everything back that I am waiting on…..I’d never remember otherwise….believe me!

Once a week I sit down and enter in the receipts to Quicken and pay our bills online if needed. Once the bills are paid they too get moved to the wicker “to file pile”. Every so often (read three months…yikes) I’ll file that “to file pile” into the filing cabinet. The top drawer is my hubbies and the bottom drawer is mine. In my drawer I have a different file folder for each of the different bills and banking statements. I keep these bills/statements for one year. I only have this one drawer so I have to be pretty dilligent about shredding old documents regularly. Our filing cabinet also holds house and van papers as well as tax information. All other important documentation (marriage license, birth certificates, etc) are either kept in our safety deposit box or our fireproof safe.

Lastly all the sale flyers for the week are kept in my dining room. I have a tea cart with two pull out wire baskets and I keep them in one of these baskets. I toss any old flyers before I add the new ones. I love the sale flyers!!!

Not too long ago I discussed how I deal with all the kids school papers here.

Whew. I think that about covers it. If I’ve missed something let me know and I’ll reply in the comments.

I find that if I don’t deal with the paperload right away the piles can easily and quickly wear me down and get the better of me.

I’d love to hear about what works for you in your home!

Filed under: Office, Organizing Solutions


22 Responses to A desk sorter, a basket and a filing cabinet….

  1. 1
    Annie says

    This is the biggest area that I need help…I’m going to let hubby read this and maybe we can get this part together!!

  2. 2
    Jenny says

    You have an amazing system going on!!! I love the rubbermaid filing system!! I’m going to get one!
    This is my project for the weekend!! That’s awesome you put everything into Quicken…I just keep track by checking online.
    I’ll let you know how this goes this weekend!!
    I feel a little overwhelmed but in the same sentence a little excited to tackle this clutter and chaos!!
    (I just showed Scott your system and all he could say was “wow”)

  3. 3
    Domestic Goddess says

    Excellent post. Thanks for all the great ideas.

    I work from home so all my personal, family, and work stuff gets jumbled up together. I definately get burried under paper because for some reason everyone thinks my desk is where everything goes!

    I used to be organized before I became a SAHM/WAHM. You have inspired me!

  4. 4
    Anonymous says

    I love the system you have going on… but I have a computer/ work/ filling station that is upstairs and I never go there to organize! I only go up there when I HAVE TO file and toss. I wish that this area of my home was on the main floor. I want it to be a place i want to go ……But i don’t! There you found my clutter spot. I am going to have to get it done now befoe anyone see it!

  5. 5
    Kelly says

    I have always been impressed with organized people. I usually can get everything organized but the trick is keeping that way. You seem to have the knack. I’m new to blogging and have enjoyed looking through your site.

  6. 6
    cmhl says

    may I just say again how much I love your site??? if my house is organized, my LIFE is organized. I “get” what you are saying.

  7. 7
    Erna says

    I just wanted to stop by and say that I love the new look! It is fabulous! Your blog is very enjoyable to visit.

  8. 8
    Katherine@Raising Five says

    Paperwork is my biggest problem – I’ve been thinking about getting a shredder for – well, for YEARS now. I think that would help me. I hate throwing things away that have personal info on them, so they tend to stack up…great post!

  9. 9
    Anonymous says

    I pride you on your organization accomplishments. I too love to be organized. However, may I say that even though you have found a home for your belongings, you appear to own more than you need. Consider simplifying even more. You might find that freeing yourself of the stuff feels better than finding a spot for it. Then you’ll use less energy organizing and more energy enjoying life.

  10. 10
    Anonymous says

    You can buy office products with better discounts from my favorite site – couponalbum.com ..

  11. 11
    Work in progress says

    So, a follow-up question… where do you keep those little bits of papers with phone numbers and random notes that pile up on the desk? And where do you keep all the miscellaneous business cards, product ideas, brochures for future purchases that collect in the home office?

  12. 12
    Sergio says

    I saw once a coffee maker station in a bank and I have not been able to find something like that. It had like a slot for the sugar, tea bags, napkins, etc., all in one station.
    Our coffee, tea bags, etc., are inside their boxes and look horrible.
    Any help on that?

  13. 13
    Becky says

    Ooooh… I got some good ideas from you in this post on items that you are waiting on. I need to implement a system like yours for stuff I’ve filed for medical insurance…I’m way behind on that.

    But I’d like to share my system for monthly bills. It’s awesome, and I figured someone out there could benefit from it…

    I have 12 file folders, one for each month. I have a desk sorter, that looks just like yours (only larger) that will hold letter-size file folders. The current month folder is always kept in front of the rest. When the mail comes, I put the bills in their respective folder, based on due date. so each bill is easily accessible when it comes to bill-paying time. Once each bill is paid, it remains in that month’s folder. Once this system has made its round of a full year, and I get back to the beginning folder, I empty and shred last years bills and start that month over again, one folder at a time. This way, I always have a years worth of records, bills, bank statements, etc…

    I used to have a “to file pile” and I would never get around to filing it…so this system solved that problem for me!

    • 13.1
      Mary G. says

      YOU. are a freaking GENIUS!!!! Doing this… RIGHT NOW.

    • 13.2
      victoria says

      Oh my…thank you so very much. You posted this just for me! Wow!

  14. 14
    jennifer denwalt says

    hi i love this system i am so disorganized and on top of that i am a homeschool parent.so that adds to my disorganized life thanks for this info i am going to try this thanks again jennifer

  15. 15
    Lori says

    I am a new SAHM with an infant, a preschooler & a teenager. I have been fluttering around my house for 6 months and I have lost my mind! When I worked outside of the house I was a very highly organized person, but that has completely gone out the door and I did not know where to start! I love this system and will be putting it to use starting tomorrow! Thank you for the ideas and inspiration!

  16. 16
    Betty says

    Comment#11 Work in progress

    I’d like to know what to do with all those little notes,etc. too!
    When you get an answer to this question, please post it.

  17. 18
    Kimberly says

    I love your ideas, my husband also does all our receipts on quicken. The problem with our office is it has to much furniture and things tend to be in piles all spread out over desks. It also doubles as a music room.

  18. 19
    Amy says

    I just discovered your site! I’m an organizing junkie myself, but I get lazy sometimes! I need to work on getting items to their designated place as soon as they come into my house! I don’t now if you’re still using this system, but I wanted to share a tip that really helped me. I completely got ride of my “to file pile” by filing each item as soon as I’m done with it. It’s amazing, because I never have the huge task of filing months worth of stuff anymore! Thanks for all the tips you have on here!

  19. 20
    Mary G. says

    Well gee, if the ONLY sorts of paper I had to think about were bills and sale flyers, keeping my desk organized would be a breeze! Unfortunately, I also have my:

    – Garden/landscaping records/receipts/plans
    – Hubby’s medical records (kidney patient/diabetes/hypertension…)
    – Knitting/crochet patterns & commitments
    – Home care/maintenance
    – Home projects plans/records
    – Medical records in general (whole family)
    – Online purchases and returns
    …… the list just goes on and on and on….


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