Cleaning & Organizing

How to Clean Out & Organize Your Paperwork

posted on March 21, 2016 | by Amanda Holstein

How to Clean Out & Organize Your Paperwork

stylish desk with lots of paperwork

Now that we’re “adults”, are you ever amazed by how much paperwork you’ve accumulated since college? Even though I pretty much do everything online, it’s astonishing how many random papers — bills, statements, letters, tax forms — have stacked up over the years.

Possibly as an act of rebellion against these stupid papers, I’ve always just stuck them in a box or a random folder, pretending to be organized when really I had no idea what to keep or toss. After six years of this system, I finally decided to tackle this mess of paperwork once and for all.

Not by myself, of course. Thanks to the amazing, always-reliable TaskRabbit, I spent a few hours with Lisa, an organizational expert (seriously, look at her credentials!), going through everything and creating a system that will keep me organized for years. Here’s how we did it:

1. Make piles

First, we got out all of my random papers and started making piles. We even dragged my coffee table over for a nice, big workspace. We starting going through each piece of paper and created more general piles, like taxes, healthcare, business, etc. Lisa was so helpful in creating these initial categories, which was part of the process that really intimidated me.

organizing files & paperwork with TaskRabbit

2. Toss as you go

One of the toughest parts for me was knowing what I actually needed to keep and what I could throw away. Lisa was so helpful with that piece! We created a toss pile for things I didn’t need to hold onto (like a utility bill I paid 2 years ago — yup, I had plenty of those) and made sure to talk about anything we were thinking of getting rid of.

process of organizing paperwork with TaskRabbit

3. Start putting files into folders

We went through each pile and put each paper into a folder (these pretty folders made the process a lot more enjoyable). For taxes, we broke it out by year, for example. For my business, I created one folder for contracts and one for admin. We also labeled these folders as we created them to make sure we stayed as organized as possible.

process of organizing paperwork with TaskRabbit

4. Create larger categories

Then we grouped these folders into larger categories and placed them in my new filing box. I ended up with one section healthcare, broken out by dental, vision, etc.; one for taxes, broken out by year (and I even have a folder for this year’s receipts/expenses!) and a few others for my business, my dog, previous employment, and finance.


5. Make Current Files Easily Accessible

For files I need to access regularly or more urgently, I have these adorable document holders on my desk.  These are for current bills I need to pay, expense receipts, and some magazines for inspiration.

By the end, I not only felt like a legitimate adult, but as if a huge weight had been lifted as well. I now know where to put things as they come in and I’m even keeping track of this year’s pay stubs and expenses for next year’s taxes (something I never thought I’d be on top of!). My parents would be so proud :). And look how clean and neat my desk is!! THANK YOU, LISA!!

organize paperwork filing systemafter4how to organize paperwork for a clean, tidy desk

 // A huge thank you to TaskRabbit for sponsoring this post.
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