Angela Ploetz

Certified Professional

Freedom Filer Certified

Clear and Simple Certified®

President of the NAPO-Austin Chapter


My goal is to help people create a space that supports them, mentally, physically, and aesthetically. When you are free from the chaos you have the capacity to create more of what you want.

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Office Organizing: Part 3 – File System

by Angela On February 16, 2012

Let’s talk paper filing systems!  I know what you’re thinking, boring!  Not true!  There can be beauty in files.  Here are the very basics of what you need to know about staring a bare bones filing system.

When it comes to paper there are three BIG things you need to know:  There is “action” paper, reference paper, and trash.

Action paper:  Action paper is any type of paper that requires an action of any kind.  Something that you need to sign, mail, read, respond to, or anything otherwise known as a “to do”.  Bills, permission slips, a birthday invitation you need to RSVP to, a ticket you need to pay, those are some examples of action papers.  So where do those go?  Typically I recommend those things go on top of a desk within arms reach so you can easily file things and retrieve them.  If you don’t have a desk or home office you can also tuck this away where you process your mail, maybe a kitchen counter.

One of my favorite containers to use for an action system is a desktop file box like the one shown directly above from The Container StoreSee Jane Work has a great more playful file basket shown at the top of this post.

If you are a visual person and you prefer to see your stuff then I recommend a 3-5 slotted letter sorter similar to the one above from The Container Store or the desktop sorter below from See Jane Work.

Reference Files: Just as the name suggests reference files are anything you may need to refer back to.  This could be anything from medical records, birth certificates, tax documents, to an electricity bill.  Typically I recommend storing those documents that you will need to file or reference on a monthly basis or near your desk or near where you will be processing your daily mail.  If you keep the files close to where you will open the mail the chances that you will file your documents immediately will increase.  So keep it easy.  In last week’s post Office Organizing Part 2-File Storage  I showed lots of example of ways to store your files.

But as you know I am always finding more inspiration, so above is another DIY file system I just found from Erin at Stillwater Story.