Office Organise

Tackling Paper Piles

April 9, 2013
Piles and piles of paper are a huge organising dilemma for a lot of people. Mail (and lots of it) comes into our houses and if it has no where to go, you can soon end up with a huge stack on your hands, or more likely kitchen counter.

Finding a filling system that works for you and your family is like finding a needle in a haystack. However I would love to show you our system and hopefully you can take something from it that you can use in yours.

I find that the best way to start is to follow the paper trail. Where does the paper start to pile up? It could be your kitchen bench, office, or in our case it was my mini office.

The first thing I did was to go through that stack. Shred or throw away everything that you can and sort the rest into categories.

Then you need to come up with a mail catcher, somewhere for all that paper to go when it enters your home. I found this super cute condiments caddy at Howard’s Storage World and thought it would be perfect.

I made dividers out of card stock to go inside the caddy and thought about what categories made most sense to us. I came up with:

  • Pay
  • Action
  • File
  • Read
  • Receipts
  • And one file for each family member


The caddy is stored inside the top of my mini office, which is right next to the kitchen. When mail comes in, it is really easy to sort it into its appropriate files and bin or shred what we don’t need.


Temporary filling was next. This is for medium term storage which we change out annually. I wanted something that was really easy for me to transfer the paper from my mail catcher. I decided on a binder that I could store in the bottom section of my mini office.

Once a fortnight when we do our budget I take out the mail catcher and binder and move everything across. If it is something that is yet to be dealt with, it stays in the mail catcher so we don’t forget about it.

In the front of my annual filling binder I have a hole punch and a pen. Then I have the following categories:

  • Bank Statements
  • Electricity
  • Telstra
  • Medical
  • Tax
  • Car
  • House
  • And again a file for each family member

Everything in this binder stays in there for the whole year, that way it is really easy if we need to reference anything. At the beginning of the year I go through the binder. Anything that we don’t keep for longer than 12 months is shredded, this includes bank statements and utility bills. All this information is readily available online should we ever need it.

*If you plan on following our system please talk to your financial advisor about what documents you should or should not keep.

Any documents that we need to keep then go into our long term filling system. We use a plastic file box with hanging files. When I move our paper work from the binder to the file box, I also have a quick look through the box and make sure we still need everything. Then I file the rest of the documents. I use similar categories as I do in our binder, I also have a file for each tax year.

All our important documents such as birth and marriage certificates, insurance details, deed to the house, a copy of our will and a list of all our bank and loan details are kept in a plastic file box in our mini office. Should we ever have an emergency and need to leave our home, it is all there in an easy to find location.

So there you have it, our whole filling system in one super long post. I hope this helps you to reduce some of the paper clutter in your home.

Where in your home does the paper start to pile up? I would love to hear how your filling system works.

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  • Reply Kitty Joh April 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    You have inspired me. It's a shame it's the end of the holidays!

  • Reply Anonymous June 18, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Fabulous ideas! Will be doing many of these the only thing different is we keep our most important documents in a safe deposit box at the bank… never know if you will be away from home and not able to grab the file should disaster strike. Many Thanks for all your ideas and photos.

    • Reply foreverorganised June 20, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      That is a great idea, I think we need to look into a safe deposit box. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Reply Shannon June 20, 2013 at 3:55 am

    I would take a picture of the paper pile on my kitchen bench if I wasn't so embarrassed to share it! Thank you for these great ideas which I'm definitely going to try out. I think the dividers and the annual folder are going to make a huge difference in my efforts to organise my messy pile.

    • Reply foreverorganised June 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      Good Luck Shannon, maybe you can take a picture when you are done instead 🙂 I would love to see how you organised it

  • Reply Anonymous June 22, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Awesome ideas here, thank you!! By nature I'm extremely organised however we are in the midst of never ending renovations and don't have a proper study or filing area. My papers are always on our kitchen bench (my husband endearingly? calls it my "pile of crap"). I love the caddy idea, one should fit perfectly next to our phone in the kitchen. I'll look into getting one tomorrow!


    • Reply foreverorganised June 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Oh no Sara, that would be my worst nightmare. I hope you get your renovations finished soon so you can go back to being super organised 🙂

  • Reply Carol June 23, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Hi Jessica love these great ideas and came across your blog as a result of seeing your laundry post on The Organised Housewife's blog. 🙂

    When you transfer your filing/paperwork from the folder to the plastic file box do you then just leave it all in there? I worry that it would build up too quickly and not be big enough?

    Thanks so much Carol

    • Reply foreverorganised June 25, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      Hi Carol,
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      At the end of each year when I move everything from the folder to the file box, I go through everything in the file box and make sure it is still needed.
      I am pretty brutal with my culling, I only really keep important documents, medical information and tax receipts. After 12 months I shred anything that I am able to get online or reprinted (bank statements, utility bills etc).

      I hope this helps 🙂


  • Reply Rowena July 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Do you run on a calendar year or the financial year?

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