[VIDEO]: How to Organize Papers on Your Desk
Here’s how I organize all of the papers on my desk including the mail and projects I’m currently working on. I did a video about 2 months ago on how to organize the mail in the home office, however, with the recent move, I had to change my system to fit the new space.
How do you organize your mail and papers on your desk? Leave a comment below or create a video response and let everyone see!
Hi guys. It’s Alejandra. And in this video, I’m going to share with you guys how I organized all of my bills, my mail, and all of my paper projects on my desk. So maybe like two or three videos ago, I did another video on how to organize your mail but that was in my old house when I was using my elfa desk that was built into the wall.
In the house, I have a brand new desk. I just have a traditional, a free-standing desk and I have my mail center on top of my desk. So the system is completely different and I just want to share with you guys what I’m doing, what works, and hopefully you guys can take some tips from this video and apply them in your own home office if you are struggling with organizing your paper.
So let me grab the camera and show you guys exactly what I’ve been doing. OK. So this is my new bill-paying center, mail center/paper project management center if that makes sense. Like I said, I’m not using my elfa desk so nothing is built into the wall. It’s all free-standing on top of a desk. This organizer is made by Rubbermaid and it’s from Staples. It has like a staircase step to it so when the files are in each of the sections, you can read the label because if there was no staircase, if it was just flat, you won’t be able to see the labels when you’re sitting down at the desk. You’ll only be able to see the first one, not the one in the back. So the staircase is really nice.
The reason why I picked this step file sorter is because it was, in my opinion, it was the best quality. It had sides to it. A lot of the other file sorters didn’t have sides and I felt like if the papers just hang out, it would be messy and this will just be more contained. So this one was a little bit more expensive but in my opinion, I just feel like everything is contained. It’s organized. It’s sturdy like this thing is not going anywhere.
OK. So let me first explain this sorter. This is the mail sorter. And then over here is the paper project sorter. So this sorter here, this is where all of my mail goes through here. So when I get the mail, I’m going to immediately go through my mail and figure out if anything can be trashed, shredded, or recycled. Once I take care of that, everything else that remains needs to go through my mail sorter.
So this folder here is stuff that I’m not really clear on what the action is. So maybe I get a letter in the mail or a statement or a bill and it doesn’t really spell out what the next step is but it requires me to call someone, ask someone, or cancel then I’m going to put that piece of paper inside this folder and then at the end of the week or next week or maybe on the 15th of the month, whatever your schedule or your routine is, I’m going to go through this folder and actually call that person, ask someone, or pick up the phone and cancel something. So this is my call/ask/cancel for things that I’m not sure what the action step is.
This next folder is bills to pay. This is pretty obvious. So if I get a bill in the mail and I need to pay it through the regular mail or I need to pay it online, I’m going to put the bill inside this folder and then pay my bills on the day that I actually pay bills, which is going to depend on your routine and your schedule.
OK. This next one, this is where I keep all of address labels. So my stamps and address labels all go into one folder. And this is a pretty cool folder. This is made by Pendaflex and it is a folder with sections in it. So it has three sections in it, three pockets. There’s one, there’s two, and then there’s three. So I have stamps in the first one. I have my home address labels. These are my old ones. And then I have my work address labels on the third pocket. So these are called the Pendaflex Divide-It-Up. These are cool. OK. So those are my address labels.
OK. Papers to file. So this folder here has all of my papers that I need to file. Sorry, it’s so loud outside. The trash man is here. I don’t know if you guys can hear that or not. But OK, so moving on. This folder is papers to file. So whenever I pay a bill and this is a question a lot of you guys had, whenever I pay a bill, I need to decide if I need to keep that bill, to keep that bottom statement and file it or if I can get rid of it. If I need to keep it, if it’s important, and it’s hard to tell you what’s important or what’s not important because everybody’s bills and papers and documents are all different.
If it’s important, I’m going to keep it and I’m going to file it. If it’s not important and the statement or the bill can be accessed online like if it’s a cable bill or if it’s electricity or water or anything that the company makes available online 24/7 and can be reproduced, I will just shred the bill because I know it can be reproduced so if there is ever a problem, I can just go online and access my bill.
If the bill is something that cannot be reproduced or if it’s tax-related or if it is bank statements or credit card statements that I haven’t double checked yet to make sure it’s accurate then I will go ahead and put it in the papers to file, file it. Of course before I file it, I’m going to check to make sure it’s accurate but I’m probably going to do that when I’m paying the bill. But again, it’s going to depend on your situation and what kind of stuff you have to determine if you need to keep your bills.
OK. And then this folder here is my QuickBooks folder for doing all of the books for my business. So this is handled on a monthly basis. I’ll just come in, I’ll print out the statement, and match it to all my expenses to make sure that everything matches and is accurate.
OK. And then in the back, I have two poly envelopes just like this. OK. So this envelope right here is where I keep all of my home receipts for anything that I buy for the house or for myself or for others. If I buy something for the house, for myself, or for others and I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it or they’re going to keep it, I’ll put the receipt in here and then I will get rid of it when I’m 110% sure that the person is going to keep it.
The receipts that I don’t put in here are things that have a big ticket price like furniture, stuff with a warranty, stuff that I could resell a few years from now, and I want to show proof of how much was paid, receipts like that will go inside the filing cabinet. And now that I’m talking about it, maybe I should do a video on how that is organized.
OK. These are just things I’m not sure I’m going to keep, home receipts. And if it makes more sense, put a label here or wherever you’re putting your receipts and say, “Receipts just in case I return something.” to make it very clear.
OK. The other folder I have here is my business receipts. I had a more complicated system. This is a poly envelope also. I had a more complicated system but I simplified my receipts recently and now, I just need a small folder. OK. So those are my poly envelopes.
OK. So this file sorter is where I keep all of my paper projects that I’m working on during the day at work. So on any given day, when I’m sitting on my desk doing work, I have all of these folders lying on my desk open and I’m going through papers, checking things off and stuff. And then at the end of the day, all the papers will go back into its folder and then back into the mail center. Sorry, not the mail center but the project center.
So any file folders that are inside of my project sorter are current projects. So let’s say I’m done with my email template project. When I’m done with this project, I’m going to take this folder and I’m going to either file it in my filing cabinet or I’m going to get rid of the folder if I don’t need to keep the papers. That’s going to depend on what the papers are. But anything here is all current stuff that I’m working on. I like to keep current stuff that I’m working on in front of me where I can see it, I can remember what I’m doing, I can remember what my goals are, and it’s just very visual. So that’s why I like this.
OK. So email template is a project, ideas I want to do, this is a folder of new products I want to come out with, notes, conference call notes, stuff related to ideas that I want to do.
Sequences, that’s another project that I’m working on. When I’m done with that, I’m going to either get rid of those papers or I’m going to file them and then that folder becomes archived.
Website redesign, so we are in the middle of redesigning our brand new website. It’s going to launch next month. I’m super excited for it. But those are all the notes and all the papers, and all the documentation for the website redesign that we’re doing.
And then in the very back is where I just have blank folders so when these projects are done, I can file them and bring a new folder down or if I’m going to reuse this, I can just take that label off and then put another label on it or just stick another label on top of the old one.
So again, this is where I keep all of my paper projects that I’m working on during the day at work. They’re all sorted by category or by project in folders that are labeled in a file sorter where I can see everything, I can see the labels, I can remember what I’m doing. And then on this side is for all of my mail, my bills, and something that needs to be filed and stuff I need to take action on.
So everything as you can see is very visual so it’s hard to miss a folder, it’s very clear where things go, and it’s just nice and tidy and it’s all contained in a file sorter that has edges where the paper is going to stay inside and not fall out.
OK. So that’s how I’ve been organizing all of the paper that comes into the house in my home office. If you have a question, feel free to leave it below. If you have a comment or you have a different way of organizing your paper, mail, or anything else that comes into your home office, I would love to see a video. Create a video response and let me see. Let everyone else see. And together, we can all be a little bit more organized. I will see you guys soon. Bye!
About the Author
Alejandra Costello is a Certified Professional Organizer who shows busy people how to declutter their lives with easy-to-follow (and fun!) organizing video tutorials in her Power Productivity Program! Alejandra started her company, Alejandra.tv, in 2008 and to date has shared her organizing expertise with millions of people in over 100 countries around the world. Named 1 of the 5 most organized people in America by HGTV, Alejandra's creative expertise has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Woman's Day, Parents Magazine, The Washington Post, CBS, and Mashable. You can connect with her on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.