How to organize office files and end office clutter

By Eren Mckay  
Filed under Organizing Ideas and Tips

Do you know how to find the best place for your bills and organize office files to prevent cluttered piles of mess?

Where in the world did I put that bill??? Is this a question you find yourself asking? Not finding an important paper is the one thing that would always get me stressed out.

I’d start running around the room like a chicken with her head cut off. It would make things even worse if “it was just in my hand a few moments ago”. The whole situation really got on my nerves.

The strange thing is that even though this was always happening to me, I actually did have a place to put my bills and office files. But “for some reason” I just wasn’t using the areas that I had separated for that.

The bills and various papers in my life ended up under the bed, behind the sofa, inside my notebooks.… You get the picture. What was I doing wrong? Why couldn’t I organize and get things to run smoothly?

Overlooked Details

You know the saying “Work smarter not harder”? Well that was my problem. I hadn’t taken the time to work “smarter” and analyze the best place to store my papers and files. Little details that seem irrelevant can actually be triggers to set off clutter monsters.

Oh Where, Oh Where Did that Paper Go?
Finding the ideal place for papers is a vital key to maintaining the order.

One of the most important decisions that you can make to prevent a total mess is where you will place your important papers. If you don’t think this through, the clutter monsters will grow and eventually come back and bite you.

So how can you figure out the best place to keep your bills and documents? By evaluating the following simple aspects you can make an effective decision as to where you should store your office files. Ask yourself these questions:

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Is It Too Far Away?

Are you trying to keep your papers far from where you are most of the day? Keeping those files near you and easily accessible is a key to maintaining your documents organized. If you have to go to another room to put things in their place, chances are that it won’t happen. The “Clutter Monsters” will begin to grow again.

Are your office files too high to reach? Having to get on a ladder to access your daily files is also not a good idea. You need to make it easy on yourself to put things back. Organize and keep your files at arms length in the closet. The files that you rarely use can go up higher.

Do you have to go through an obstacle course?

There has to be a clear passage way to get to your documents. Don’t keep them in a place where something is in front of it. Ask yourself this:
Do you have to get something out of the way to get to the closet, then open the door, then open a drawer, and then finally get to the file? Going through this “obstacle course” to get access to your office papers is a sure sign that you need to change where your files are being stored.

Clear up the passage to get to the place where your documents are at. Think of ways to access your files faster. This way you are simplifying your daily paper de-cluttering.

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Document gymnastics?

Do you have to get into an awkward position to get to your papers? That’s a big mistake. They may not be far from you but still be hard to get to. Since I live in a very small apartment I’ve had to multipurpose the space that I have. So my home office is also a bedroom.

While trying to use up every possible space in my small apartment to store things– I had an idea (note to self- not all ideas are good 😉 ).
I decided to try to store my papers right at the head of my bed.

After a few weeks of having papers and files fall on my head and having to scoot and stretch to get to the papers I decided that I should rethink this “idea”. While we all know that exercise is a good thing, you probably won’t be thinking about that when you’re filing your office papers. If you have to stretch, crouch or scoot too much to get access to your files- chances are your papers will end up under your bed.

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I have racked my brain to figure out a place- now what?

woman thinking of diet Okay so you have gone through these analyzing questions and evaluated your current space to make the best choice. You finally figured out the best place to store your important papers. Thing is-you’ve probably discovered that something else is taking up the ideal place for your paperwork.

My advice to you for your peace of mind? Your paper work should be priority over other objects.
Well because a loss of an important piece of paper can cause serious problems to your family. I know- I’ve been there. This is why I’m so passionate about how to organize papers. Because I have suffered the consequences for not getting things in order immediately and I definitely don’t want others to go through the same thing I have.

Now I spend hours each week organizing and archiving everything. It’s definitely worth the hassle to have your peace of mind.

So these are the steps that you need to take:

1- Find the ideal place to store your documents.

2- Find a new home for the objects that will be moved. Think about where they would best fit in. Move the objects to the new space.

3- Place your files in the ideal place to maintain bills and documents in order.

Filing Your Papers
Here is an excellent video that will help you get motivated to file your papers. It gives you a step by step process to organize your office papers 😉

Organize Your Desk Area

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29 Comments on "How to organize office files and end office clutter"

  1. Natural  

    these are great tips and a subject close to my heart. yeah it’s true.i love organizing stuff. i’m cleaning out closets right now, but i’m on a break. 🙂

    i keep my papers right next to my computer – because i’m always on the computer. i have the folders labled. and for my bills i keep in a calendar, the one that opens like a book. if i put everything in the same place, it’s a lot easier to find. i hate looking for stuff.

  2. Eren Mckay  

    Hi Natural I love the idea of the bills with a calendar- very cool idea.
    I also have file folders and I plan on taking the day today to spend hours and hours organizing.
    It’s such a huge job but so essential for a stress free life.
    All the best,

  3. Maria@Conversations with Moms  

    Cool. I do a sort of version of these tips. Every since I put a calendar and folder to my bills, I find it so much easier to be organized. Plus, it gives me a quick glance of future bills due.

  4. Eren Mckay  

    That’s awesome Maria.
    Organizing documents and papers is a pretty big task so cutting it down into small pieces also helps a lot.
    I tend to do a little bit each day or even to separate entire days to keep things maintained.
    Thanks for coming over 😀

  5. Sire  

    My desk is kind of a mess but as long as no-one touches anything I can usually find what I want. As for my bills, they all go in the same compartment and I add them into my computer organizer so that I am notified when they have to be paid.

    My biggest problem is taking notes from a phone call that I’ve scribbled on a piece of scrap paper and then not knowing where I’ve put them.

  6. Eren Mckay  

    Hi Sire,
    It seems like you have everything pretty well organized. In relation to your phone calls the best things is to have a small folder that stays right next to the phone and some loose sheets of paper. After you write your notes down just keep them all put into that folder. That way you can take the paper with you anywhere you go and have the freedom of writing on anything you find and then after that just place it in the folder.
    Hope this works for you 😉
    Eren Mckay

  7. Sire  

    That would have worked in the old days, but those damn mobile phones have put a stop to that. Now I can get phone calls when I’m gardening, in the loo, in the shed or whatever and I jot things down on anything handy, including my hand. Perhaps I should start carrying a little note book?

  8. Eren Mckay  

    Well the idea of a notebook is a good one if you keep that notebook on you at all times. Since that is not usually the case and we end up writing on whatever is near us, then the best idea is to unite all those sheets of paper in one place. That’s why the folder next to the phone would be a place to store all those scraps in one easy to find area.
    Organization is more about functionality. So when we think of a strategy we need to think of one that will work for our specific situation.
    We have to ask ourselves questions based on our lifestyle and personality about what will actually work.
    So the idea of gathering the papers into a folder will give you the freedom to jot down the information on whatever you have in front of you as long as you place it in that folder after you’re done jotting it down. This will make it easy to find later. Having a holding place for that kind of information is essential to find it later.
    Does that help- or did I ramble on 😀 (LOL)?

  9. Sire  

    Yeah, but the thing is that the folder is not always handy as I may be elsewhere when the calls come in. I have put the paper in my pocket, but then I forget about it and it goes through the wash 😀

  10. Eren Mckay  

    LOL- yeah – I can totally relate to what you’re saying. It’s all about remembering to put the papers back into the folder. That’s the habit that needs to be established.
    I think we all have had important papers go through the wash :-D.

  11. henry  

    id like to say that this tips are really helpful..thank you more power to your site..

  12. cynthia  

    To all of us organizational high achievers thank you for the tips. When you are extremely busy and you find your bills piling or misplaced and the notes you scrabbled important names and numbers are in the wash it means it’s time to STOP and DISCIPLINE ourselves. Use a monthly calendar like the Thomas Kincade Deskbook Monthly Deskbook Organizer which has everything we need to organize our bills.When writing on sticky notes or scrap paper have a small catch all container like a basket,glass jar even a dish with some heavy paper weight (I use a yankee candle jar lid labeled “important notes” near the entryway or next to your phone. Hope this helps and please relax and take time to say outloud to yourself I”M putting my bills and notes where I can find them. Eventually it will be second nature and become less stressed and save more time for you. Cy loves to help.

  13. Eren Mckay  

    @ Henry – So glad that these tips have helped you. They come from personal experience 😉 .

    @Cynthia – Those are some great tips. Putting the notes that we write to ourselves in a place where we will actually use them is what will make note taking functional. I also tell myself to do things out loud so that I will remember. It’s a great way to jog the memory. Thanks for your great comment :-).

    Blessings always ♥,

  14. Drake  

    Sire, a lot of cell phones have a voice recorder option which I use all the time for reminders and notes when paper’s not handy. I replay the message when I have the chance to write it down. I will also send myself an email message to remind me of things. Just a thought in case it helps.

  15. Young And Fabulous  

    Very valuable article, Eren. I hate clutter. Everyday, I go and open the mails and I shred everything I don’t need, aka junk so it doesn’t build up on me. Most of my bills are sent electronic and are scheduled to be paid automatically. I have a bin for receipts that I go through once a week to reconcile on my quicken, and once done, I put them in a ziplock bag with year on it, filed in a drawer. Keeping the receipts for tax purposes. But maybe I can start looking into receipt scanners (if there’s one) so I don’t have to keep them?

    Now with my kids’ clutters, that’s a different story and never ending, lol!

  16. Debbie Lattuga  

    Boy, you speak to my heart. Paperwork is a mountain in our house. Love the videos.

    Now I’ve got a plan!

  17. Kim  

    OMG, I lose papers all the time. I drive my hubs insane! I’ll stick them one place, he’ll move them cleaning & then we’re lucky if we ever find them again!

  18. Eren Mckay  

    @Drake – Those are some really great tips you gave on keeping your things organized. Especially the one about emailing yourself things that need to get done. That’s a great tip especially if you incorporate it into google calendar which automatically sends you an email on the date you have an appointment.

    @Cherrie –I hear you on all that work that we need to keep on top of just so the clutter doesn’t mount up. And the kids .. well that’s a whole ‘nother ball game -lol 😉

    @Debbie- Those videos really inspired me. That’s why I really wanted to share them with everyone. They broke it down into simple steps. Organizing is a process and we just have to keep on it.

    @ Kim –A simple and quick tip about important papers is to separate one drawer for them. Just one drawer and always put all important papers that you will need to go through in that one drawer. That way you always know where the paper will be. It’s either in that one drawer or already put away where it’s supposed to be. Hope this helps my friend.

    Blessings always ♥,

  19. Melanie (ModernMami)  

    We’ve tried several different methods but somehow always end up with little stacks on our kitchen counter from when we walked into the house after getting the mail. Thankfully, all but one of our bills are paid online, so we’re not usually needing to look for a bill at the last minute.

  20. Eren Mckay  

    Hi Melanie,
    I so hear you. It takes a while to find a method that fits into our personality and lifestyle. Sometimes something will work for one person and completely not work for another. Sometimes the family situation also may hinder a certain system. So it’s all about trial and error and finally finding a system that is functional.
    x ♥ x ♥,

  21. Ally  

    I have three different office. I lost my documents every day due to poor organizing of my documents. How can I do that?
    I don’t know proper files I have to keep.

  22. Eren Mckay  

    Hi Ally!
    What are the documents that you use every day? Those should be easily accessible preferably at arm’s length. Then you need to set up categories and subcategories of files depending on your needs. Make sure to label everything and if you are a visual person keep everything out in the open so that you can find what you want just by taking a glance.
    Hope that helps!
    Blessings ♥,

  23. mincir  

    I am happy to read this article and by watching this video. But I organize my office files and desk in my own way.

    I have different drawers where files category wise and priority wise are placed.The files that I am currently using are placed very first cabinet to me. Similarly month wise I have managed every file.

    I always put those files on my desk on which I am currently working.

  24. Stay Boosted Gary  

    As an ADD’er, I definitely see the value of being organized and as LITTLE clutter as possible!

    Thanks Eren!


  25. Eren Mckay  

    Hi Mincir- Yes by month we can easily find the files that we are looking for. There are many ways to categorize files. Creating category titles that make sense to us is essential to facilitate the access to them.

    Hey Gary – Many times people believe that whatever “looks” disorganized is clutter. The truth is that clutter is leaving things out that we will not be using. But those who have ADD need to see what’s going on or else they completely forget that it even exists. Visualizing is one of the main keys for an ADDer to be able to organize. Whether it be with picture labels, or having clear places to see and find what they need. So take that into consideration when setting up your system.

  26. Miracles  

    Hi Eren! It’s my first time to see your site. Thanks for this; the desk organization video also taught me something new. As a work-from-home Mom to 2 boys (my oldest is a 5th grader, with ADHD; my youngest is just turning 2), I’m definitely decided on achieving a good balance, with the time scale of course tipped in favor of wifehood & mothering, and being serious about doing both. I guess I’ll be visiting your site more often! Till next time, God bless you and your family and ministry.

  27. Eren Mckay  

    Hi Miracles,
    So glad the video helped you out. Organization truly is a time consuming and ongoing process. We have to always work on it especially as parents.
    I have a child with ADD but the symptoms can go way down if we find ways to be productive by leveraging off of the strong points of ADD. It`s all about learning to work with your brain instead of against the flow.
    Hope to see you more too.
    God bless,

  28. Lee Jenna Tyler  

    Thank you, Eren and God Bless You! You are so thoughtful in many ways but looking at specific situations and tailoring your organization ideas to that person’s situation. I will be on you site often. Love the videos. I’m always on my computer (don’t know what I’d do without it and always worried it will keel over on me! 😉 I will see you on G+ or here. Sending my best to you and all. ljt

  29. Eren Mckay  

    Hi Lee!
    Thank you so much! Embracing Home truly is a labor of love. It’s my passion to help others find more peace and shove away the anxiety. I’ve found that organizing is one of the best ways to prevent stress from happening in the first place. If you look around I’m sure you’ll find lots of things to help you!
    Have an awesome day!!
    Blessings always,

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