Organizing your home office paperwork and creating a good file system

Dear Kathi,

I have a small home office and I don’t know what to do with all of my papers. I bring work projects home periodically and then my personal correspondence and bills get lost. Do you have any recommendations?

Kyle, Solana Beach


When you mix business with personal paperwork, items will invariably get lost. Create an area in your office for large work projects. This can be as simple as a basket where your project is stored when you are done for the day. For multiple work projects, use a file drawer or free-standing file unit to hold resources and information separately for each project. When a project is just getting started, you can keep it in your current projects vertical file described in the last paragraph.

Create a filing system for all work projects, personal bills and correspondence.

There is a super duper file system that I recommend to all of my clients. It is called Freedom Filer. This system is self-purging and rotates your files so that you have paper archives for two years and tax archives for ten. It makes filing a breeze and also teaches you what to keep and what to throw away. It is expandable and works well for personal file systems, home-based businesses and corporations. You can learn more about this filing system at

For papers aren’t yet ready to file and need attention, designate a holding area. Your desktop is a logical space because they will remind you to work on them when you see them every day. Stack these folders vertically and label them Current Projects, Waiting for Response, Bills to Pay, Calls to Make etc. There are many labeling possibilities for your folders. Use whichever label titles work best for you and work on these files a few minutes every day. Implementing these practices will keep you free and clear of the black hole syndrome.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

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