The BEST Household Paper Management System

Paper clutter can be a huge pain point for many of us when it comes to managing our home. But there IS hope for messy people like me, and I’m excited to show you our whole paper clutter system!

When paper comes into our house now, it goes to one of these four places:

Time Will Tell Basket

time will tell basket

The Time Will Tell basket has been the biggest game-changer for my paper clutter. This is the place to put paper that we just don’t know if we’ll need or not.

Types of paper you might put in a Time Will Tell basket:

  • Catalogs & magazines
  • Order forms
  • Coupons
  • Doctor notes for follow-up care
  • Paint samples
  • Business cards from service providers
  • Quotes & estimates

These are all things that don’t necessarily require follow-up and if you never get back to them, it doesn’t matter. Over time most of the stuff in Time Will Tell will expire and it will be clear that you’re not using it.

My basket is empty most of the time now because I’ve realized that I just don’t end up using that stuff!

Vital Documents

red folder

If you were in an emergency situation and needed to find your super important documents really quickly… would you know where to look??

I store all of our vital documents in a bright red expanding file holder. So in case of a fire or natural disaster, they’re all in one place and I know exactly where they are.

Documents you may want to include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Passports
  • Social Security cards
  • Marriage license
  • Vehicle titles
  • Vital medical information
  • Passwords or logins

By having a designated folder for these important documents, I don’t have to worry that they’ve gotten lost in other stacks of paper, and I have peace of mind that I can grab them if need be… and that really takes the stress off!

Long-Term Storage

plastic file box

When it comes to long-term storage, I love what Marie Kondo says — our goal is to keep no paper at all!

So now, I am super selective of what paper I keep long-term and it all fits in one plastic file bin. You can also use a cardboard file box, a file cabinet or a desk with file drawers.

Items to put into long-term storage:

  • Tax documents
  • Insurance policies
  • Important receipts
  • Paid medical bills
  • Records for repairs (vehicle & home)
  • Pet records
  • Bank statements & investment docs

The best tip for long-term paper storage is to make folders using broad categories and always put the year on it.

Ninety percent of what you put into file folder storage will never be accessed again, so don’t worry about micro-categorizing it!!

If you file by year and using broad categories it won’t be hard to find what you need… IF you ever even need it!

Action Center

file holder with labeled folders

The Paper Action Center is where you keep paper that requires some kind of action or that you expect you’ll need to reference again.

This can take many shapes and sizes, but it’s nice if it can be portable so you can tuck it out of sight when it’s not being used. If you’re very visual, you could also set up a file holder on the wall.

The file categories that I have in here are:

  • To-Do: These are action items that need to be done, like a card that needs to get sent, an RSVP, an order form to send in… anything I have to do something with goes in here.
  • Calendar/Reference: I keep a full month calendar for reference, along with our family calendars for birthday reminders. Other items you might reference could be a sports schedule, wedding invitation with an address, etc.
  • Receipts: That you may need to reference again or use for returns.
  • Bills to Pay: Whenever a bill comes in, I take it out of the envelope and put it in this folder, and then everything is together for whenever we do bills.

The only way to stay on top of your Paper Action Center is to plan a time each week to go through it.

At first, your To-Do file is probably going to be thick, but once you stay on top of it every week or two, usually there’s just like a few things in here and it won’t take long at all!

Get the printable!

Household Paper Management printable

>> Download this FREE PRINTABLE that breaks down this whole system so you can get on top of your paper!

Watch the video:

Or watch this video on YouTube here!

I have full confidence that you CAN stay on top of paper in your home. By implementing a few easy systems, you’ll no longer have random piles of paper all over the house.

And you could very quickly get to a point where you realize paper clutter is not even a big deal in your home anymore!

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