How I get away with only filing once a year

I hate filing.   I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

I hate the long term filing (not necessarily the day to day stuff).

So how do I get around not doing a job I don’t love.

I only file once a year.

There I said it.

And yesterday was that day.

When I mentioned this to my sister she told me “gosh you must have one huge basket!”.  The truth of the matter is I don’t.  I just don’t keep a lot of stuff.

Here is my file basket full after one year.

This basket is 5 inches deep.  This is what it looks like outside of the basket:

Not too bad.  My strategy is this….I file when the basket is full.  Easy as that.  Just so happens it takes about a year to fill it up.  Works for me!

Ahhh you’ve got to love baskets that provide limits and boundaries.  Makes life so much easier.

Now like I said I don’t keep a lot of stuff.  Most things for only a year and then 7 years for the tax stuff.  Of course this will be different for everyone depending on your financial situation.  For more information on how long you should keep your financial records please visit this post for some helpful links.

So how do I organize my file pile for the filing cabinet?  Spread out on my bed while watching TV of course!  House Hunters anyone?

And then into the filing cabinet it goes:


My main point in telling you this is.  I know it doesn’t seem rationale and not something that would work for everyone depending on the amount of papers kept however it is what works for me.  There are no set in stone rules for organizing.  Of course there are general guidelines like have a home for everything and don’t buy your containers first but other than that it’s all about organizing your way.  I was watching Kathie Lee and Hoda the other day and Hoda admitted to using her oven for clothes storage.  Absolutely nothing wrong with that at all.  If you aren’t using it for cooking you might as well use it for something.

Do what works for you!! 

(see also: Your way is not wrong if…)

How often do you file?  Are you a file as you go type of girl or a wait awhile to file type of girl?  Do you have a boundary in place so you know when it’s time?


Filed under: Office, Paper Organization


28 Responses to How I get away with only filing once a year

  1. 1
    Becki Cullipher says

    How about this: I’ll come file for you if you’ll come organize my sewing room!!!

    • 1.1
      Laura says

      Now that sounds like a fantastic idea!!!

  2. 2
    Cathy says

    I only really file about twice a year, following pretty much the same principles. The secret is in setting up the foundation and flow.

    • 2.1
      Laura says

      That’s awesome Cathy. I would definitely do it more often if my basket warranted it but because I don’t like the filing part, I’m really picky about what goes into it 🙂

      • Cathy says

        Like you said, if it works for you. It works. Why make more?

  3. 3
    Lynn says

    I also hate to file, but I have way more paperwork than that, so once a year would not work for me. But I do only do it every other month or so. I keep a small box on my desk that all paperwork goes into and when it gets full, I file it. So basically a similar system as yours and it works great for me also. However, I might need to get a cute basket like yours. It looks much better than my black office looking one. 🙂

    • 3.1
      Laura says

      Yay for another filer hater 🙂 Just kidding but it does sound like you follow the same idea. Having a container/basket really makes all the difference doesn’t it to reminding us when it’s time to file.

  4. 4
    mom2triplets04 says

    Oh, I hate to file as well! This past year I went to the monthly filing system. I have a folder for each month and I just put all paid bills into the month folder. I then at the end of the year take out all my bills and group them together for tax purposes and store them in my basement. This method seems to be working for me so far.

    • 4.1
      Em says

      this sounds similar to what I have started. I have an accordian style folder with 12 divisions…one for each month. Everything related to that month goes in there.
      Then when I am on Christmas vacation, I file everything from there that needs to be kept.
      I also pull out anything related to taxes and put them into a separate file folder throughout the year so they are ready to go in Feb when I do my taxes.
      You have to do what works with your lifestyle. No two people or situations are the same.

      • Laura says

        Amen to that Em!

  5. 5
    Maggie Dougherty says

    I have organizing ADD – I start one project and can’t stick with it b/c I’ve already found another project more fun or useful, then another . . . and so on. Sometimes I don’t even start an organization project because I know I’m not going to find a box cute enough or a label perfect enough to fit it – It drives me crazy!!

  6. 6
    Marcia @ Organising Queen says

    I’m the same as you but my tolerance for paper is lower than yours. I.e. my basket is much narrower so I file about every 4 – 6 months 🙂

  7. 7
    Kellie says

    I LOVE this. I always feel bad for not doing my filing more often, but now I am just going to get a pretty basket (instead of the cardboard box I use now!) to keep my papers in and I’m not going to feel bad. Once a year. This is great!

  8. 8
    Becky L. says

    I put all the bills for the month in one envelope after I’ve paid them. Month and year is marked on the envelope and it’s one that’s had a bill sent in it. Then I put them in my desk drawer specially set up for that. Then when shredding time comes around, usually done free somewhere here in town, I take old bills that have been paid, 6 mo and older, to get shredded. Yes, there are somethings that don’t get shredded like tax statements and car repair bills from a shop, etc. It works for me. And by the way, I did see the organizing magazine you talked about and read your write up but didn’t buy magazine….um, have got most of those ideas but found one I liked for the bathroom that I might implement. But that will be after I get the desk issue taken care of.

  9. 10
    se7en says

    Oh blessed relief!!! I try and do it once a month and HATE it!!! I have a pile with all the papers… why on earth don’t I just keep the pile and do it once a quarter or every six months or even a year… it is the same work to spread it out, gather into piles and file… You are a genius!!!

  10. 11
    Bernice @ The Stressed Mom says

    I think the key would be to have a container that is not TOO overwhelming when you look at it. I think that is my problem, I got a basket for my desk that is bigger than it needs to be, and more stuff gets thrown in there and it is a bit overwhelming, when in reality very little of it needs to be kept. I probably need to work on my process and flow a bit!
    Great post!
    Cleaning out your emotional garbage

    • 11.1
      Laura says

      Yes that’s exactly it Bernice. It’s got to be something manageable that won’t overwhelm you in the long run.

  11. 12
    Jan says

    How do you have such few papers? That’s what I would like to know- your one year looks like my one month! Medical stuff alone is a ton- and it has to be kept for tax deductions.

    • 12.1
      Laura says

      I don’t have medical stuff and for sure that will add to your pile. That’s why what works for one won’t work for another depending on circumstances. It might mean you need to file a little more often though is all.

  12. 13
    Marie-Claire Moreau/Suddenly Homeschooling says

    Great post! Like you, I used to file papers as they came across my desk. But, found it very time-consuming. Then I started a basket very similar to yours, Laura, and only file when it gets full. Sometimes once a year, or even a little bit longer. I used to worry about having to locate things throughout the year and worried it would cause chaos if I didn’t file regularly. But in reality, I discovered that I rarely go back to look at any previous bills or paperwork, so it didn’t matter if they were in folders or still on my desk! To tell you the truth, I have actually been considering getting rid of the individual file folders and having one giant annual folder instead. I just might do that, too! Thanks for the great tips. Please keep them going =D

  13. 14
    Melissa says

    I don’t think I hate to file, but I never WANT to do it when its time. My folder is full right now actually. What I really want is a NEAT scanner/bill organizer. Cut down on filing, organize all my statements, etc, AND it’s cool 🙂

  14. 15
    Katrine says

    Funny how different we all are. I LOVE to file and have found a tool to help make the task so much easier, finding things again will be so much easier and it saves you lots of space! The tool is called Evernote.
    It’s an online service, free and it lets you upload any file and put it into different folders and even attach bookmarks.
    So, all I now have to do is scan the item, upload it and categorize it and I now have it wherever I go (since it’s online)!
    Just a thought for all of you who hate filing and would like to save some space.

    Oh, and you can use evernote for all sorts of other things as well – check if out!


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