The Secret To My Success (With Filing)

As many of you know, Laura at Org Junkie hosts a monthly Organizing Round Up. The project for January is filing cabinets. Before each round-up (assuming I participate in all of them) I thought it would be informative to do a post, telling some strategy that I use or something that I learned while doing the current project. So this month I decided to share with you the secret to my success (at least in the area of filing and ridding your desk of clutter).

My secret is the Temporary File Box. When I worked as a receiving clerk, I had several file trays and racks that held folders (all labeled nicely of course), and each folder or tray had a specific purpose and was a temporary home for a particular kind of paper work until it could be processed. I also had a box with green hanging folders (just like the one above) to hold all the recieved purchase orders until I had time to file them away.

After getting married we were plagued with paper! Mail would sit on my desk, my husband’s desk, the kitchen counter, and of course the kitchen table! So I decided to buy a simple file box and put some folders in it; the folders would help me, not only to organize the paperwork, but hide it away!

And unlike other solutions I tried in the past, I like this one because the box stays out in our office, and the folders are labeled, so the box itself is a constant reminder to stay on task and process and file paperwork!

The labels for the folders obviously depend on your own individual needs. But to get you started, here are some of my folders and their purposes:

  • Bills – Where I place new bills until they are paid
  • To Be Filed – Where I placed any paper work that needs to be filed (of course), and where bills and all the other paperwork goes after it’s processed (if I don’t have time to file immediately)
  • Personal Reciepts – Where I place grocery store, resturant, and other receipts, until I can enter the amounts into my expense spreadsheet.
  • Business Receipts – Where I put receipts from my husband’s business and other tax deductible receipts until I have time to enter & file them.
  • Requires Action/To Do – For paperwork that needs to be signed or filled out and mailed off or something we have to call about.
  • I also have a folders labeled “Misc,” “Scrap Paper” (for doodles), and “To Shred.” My husband and I also have our own individual folders, and I have a folder that’s labeled “Blogging” for ideas that I get or find, and I have a folder labeled “Etsy.”

By sorting all incoming mail and paperwork into folders as I have described, it is very easy to stay organized, and when it comes time to pay bills, file, and do other office tasks, you don’t have to waste time trying to figure out what everything is and what needs to be done with each piece.


This post is featured on Rocks in My Dryer.


  1. I’ve got to admit, when I first read the title of this post, I thought it said “filling” and assumed it was a pastry-type recipe.

    It was filing, the bane of my existance. But your idea is good, and you’re right – I used it when I worked outside the home, why not use it to run this business we call a family?

  2. This is on my “to do” list. I struggle with keeping paper clutter under control, especially with two kids in school. Thanks for listing how you have your folders divided. It will help me when I set mine up.

  3. That’s a fantastic idea! I tried to stay on top of my everyday paper mess by having two baskets in my office: ‘To Be Filed: Business’ and ‘To Be Filed: Personal’. This attempt just led to the ‘Pile of Everything Else’ that’s on my desk. Your idea would probably work great for me! Thanks SO much for the inspiration!

  4. Barbara Bakes says

    Wow – that’s impressive! I think I need to get organized! I left you some awards on my blog.

  5. My ‘final destination’ file cabinet is in great shape, even color-coded. My problem is getting the papers into it, LOL! I tend to throw them in a pile, and then plow through them every once in a while. (I do keep my bills separate, although I’m not 1000% great on those, either. I’m trying!)
    I love the idea of a temporary file like you have, and I’m going to get working on that. If I could at least have those ‘to be taken care of’ files a little better organized, it would really help! (I especially love the ‘to shred’ category, LOL!)

  6. Lori@EnjoyThe Process says

    OMG!!! I am soooo going to copy this idea! Thank you so much for sharing it!!!!

  7. Kookaburra says

    This sounds perfect. I’ve always been a very organized person and cannot stand clutter… including the never-ending paper clutter. But since having 2 little ones, I’ve totally been over-taken by the paper mess.

    Hubby and I each have our seperate ares where paper piles up… currently in 2 small dresser drawers… not very organized at all!

    I’ll have to try this out in our house asap. Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. I’m trying to be more organized. I can’t stand the little piles of paper I have going on my kitchen table, waiting for me to put them where they belong. Your system looks like it is just what I need. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Those are some great tips! I have the same system but I am a binder girl:-)

    Thanks for stopping by my post and leaving such sweet comments. I hope to see you at Susie’s Homemade .

  10. Thanks for sharing this idea. I keep something similar and it works. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’ll have to come back here when I’ve got a little more time to browse.

    Have a good day!

  11. Preaching to the choir, girlfriend! This is something (along with MANY others) that I simply must get in control.

  12. ilovemy5kids says

    We love to file – HA! But, we do it for the sake of sanity!

    Thanks for the comment. I enjoyed your blog.

  13. Shelley a.k.a. Momma says

    I came by to say thanks for letting me know you stopped by my blog… and I am so glad I did! Love this idea! We have piles and piles. I will do anything to get rid of the piles!! Thanks!

  14. i’m impressed/jealous of your system!! 🙂

  15. Jerri - Simply Sweet Home says

    Dana – I wish it was a pastry post too! But I'm glad you agree; your home is a lot like a business so it makes sense to organize your office files just as you would in a business.

    Janet, I hope my idea helps you. This system has been a life saver for me! And it's great b/c you can tailor it to your individual needs.

    Your Welcome, Carey. I hope it helps!

    Barbara, thanks so much for the awards!

    Mom2Fur – I love Color-coded! I have a few colored folders, but only because it's what my husband had on hand when we got married.

    Lori – Hope the system works for you!

    Kookaburra – I know what you mean! I always had papers everywhere! And finally I just had to do something!

    DarcyLee – I understand what you mean. Our kitchen table was the catch-all for everything! It was such a mess b/f I started using this system!

    Susie – I love binders too! I use binders for all of our business files & tax deductions. And I use binders to organize my recipes, coupons, and other stuff. This file box is just a launch pad of sorts, and my file cabinet is only used for bills/statements/etc.

    Thanks Heather. Hope to see you again soon!

    LL – It is a constant chore, isn't it?

    ilovemy5kids – lol! I know what you mean; I can't let the chaos in or it'll take over! My husband thinks I'm crazy!

    Thank you Shelley & Brooke! I'm glad you like the system!

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