How to Organize Household Papers

Written by virginia watson
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How to Organize Household Papers
Organise your important household papers to cut down on time and clutter. (file image by Byron Moore from

Running a household requires a large volume of paperwork and documents that can sometimes get out of hand. In addition to what you already may have on hand, new papers come in on a daily basis, in the forms of bills and receipts. Keeping everything organised and in a convenient place can seem like a daunting task, but you can get everything together if you have the right tools and a few hours of uninterrupted time.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • File folders
  • Labels
  • File storage boxes
  • Paper shredder
  • Trash or recycling bin

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  1. 1

    Sort out your papers. Make piles of documents by time; papers that need immediate action, those that are referenced frequently and documents destined for long-term storage. Paperwork that you need to deal with immediately includes bills and renewals. Frequently used paperwork includes insurance documents, receipts and bank statements. Tax documents and full insurance policies can be placed into storage.

  2. 2

    Shred or dispose of any excess paperwork. Unneeded documents that have personal information, such as your Social Security number, credit card number, bank account numbers or your signature should be shredded. Any other papers can be thrown out or recycled as needed.

  3. 3

    Start with your action pile, and sort this pile by deadline. Put the papers that need the quickest response at the top. Use a file folder placed in a convenient spot in your home to keep it handy for future immediate action items. File these items in the frequently referenced section as soon as you have responded to them.

  4. 4

    Organise your frequently referenced pile. Gather file folders and labels and begin sorting out your documents. Typical categories include medical, credit card statements, bank statements, home and car insurance, receipts, and next year's tax-related documents. Place each category of documents into its own folder and label clearly. Place these folders into a file cabinet or other handy storage area.

  5. 5

    Put documents into long-term storage. Sort out these documents by year, and then by category within each year. Write the years for each set of documents that you place into the storage boxes. In general, keep financial and other dated documents for around seven years. Keep other documents, such as insurance policies, until you switch or the terms and conditions change. Birth certificates, marriage and divorce records, adoption papers and other vital records should be kept indefinitely.

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