Getting Started, Part 2

What we've done so far:  1. Picture a vision for where we're going.

2. Corral all our paper that's floating around.

3. Start purging and making general categories.

For me, what I want to be able to do is: 1) quickly find necessary papers without hunting through many piles for them, 2) have a place to house papers I don't need all the time, but want to access, 3) have a way to archive papers that I want to keep but no longer need to have around.

What I have found best is different storage methods, depending on what I need. I first started with

Filing Your Paper

For me, it's so much easier to find things by file instead of by individual piece. So even though I may not have all my pieces in place yet, our next task is:

TASK #4: Start a filing system to hold your papers for now.

For each of your five categories, assign a colored file folder or marker color. Tackle each of your piles and subdivide them even further if you have not already done so. For example, what I have in my filing system for now:

  • Medical Records: Mostly these are for Anah, but any reports and records of treatments done, results of tests, etc. are kept in a file for her. If you have multiple children, you may wish to have a file for each of them, including immunization records.
  • School: One folder per child with current lesson plans and goals; one folder for completed work I am saving up for their yearly portfolio. Anything involving outside activities, classes, programs go in another folder so I can deal with them all at once.
  • Work, ministry: I have a folder for all the review material I'm currently working on, one file for each ministry project I'm planning, one file for my homeschool group work, one file for each writing project I have. I also have folders of past projects that I have completed, each in it's own folder, if I think I would like to keep them for reference.
  • Home: This is a catch-all of sorts. I have a folder for any recipes I found that I'd like to try, ideas for the home (decoration, organization, cleaning tips, all things homemaking); appliance manuals (if you don't already have them in another place), etc. If you do the bills, this may be another folder.  Things that I may need to reference, like take out menus, directions, phone numbers, sports schedules, business cards, as well as information on upcoming kids' events, activities, programs, and all associated paperwork. Most of these are not things I will need to look at too regularly.
  • Catalogs, magazines: I don't subscribe to much, but my goal is to keep no more than the current year's issues. I flip through any catalogs and decide whether I would realistically shop with them or not. If I think I need a second look, I file these catalogs into a file folder. The rest will get tossed.

In future posts, I will share what I have been doing with each of these categories and how I am working through them to create the system that I need, like:

  • creating daily and tickler files
  • creating portfolios of work for the kids
  • recipe organization
  • creating a reference binder
  • dealing with catalogs and magazines

As I mentioned in my opening post, I am not dealing with archiving/storage paper yet. We're just working on making the paper you need work for you, not against you. So let's get those papers somewhat organized into some folders! For me, that alone helped a lot. No longer did I have to wade through the whole stack of paper. Also, future papers that came in had a place to go right away.

I hope this helps you too! When you're done with this job, find a place to hold your files! After purging and sorting, what I had left that held my current work, was about half the pile I started with! (If only it was this easy to shed weight!) I was able to fit them into a wooden magazine rack that I had around the house. You can use a dishtub, a basket, whatever.


The colored folders have helped me to even know which folders to look in. I didn't have time to buy colored folders yet, so I recycled manila folders and colored them with highlighter. It works for now. All just to say that you don't have to have top -of-the-line stuff to get organized! Just use what you have! Some of it is going to be temporary anyway, so until I get the other parts of my system organized, I'll stick with this. When I'm ready, I'll switch to nicer folders.

My cheapskate filing system. Really. It doesn't have to be expensive.

When you're done, pat yourself on the back and take a little break. Then join me next week for more specifics!