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How to Set Up A Paper Filing System {For People Who Don’t Like to File!}

by | Jan 30, 2014 | Domesticity, Offices, Organization

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How to Set Up A Paper Filing System {For People Who Don't Like to File!}

I love the idea of papers being super organized. 

I drool over pretty organizers and colorful boxes. I adore patterned binders and color coded files. I love stickers and labels. But, I have a problem that has plagued me forever.

I have a fear of filing papers — or at least a very strong aversion to it. I have tried to be an organized-filing-kind-of-person my whole life. I really want to be a filer. They seem like such ‘together’ people.  I like pretty things, so I always thought the solution to my paperwork problem must be to just get pretty files and notebooks.

But no, pretty boxes alone won’t make your papers organized. I know this now.

How to Set Up A Paper Filing System {For People Who Don't Like to File!}

file boxes or organizers in this post via See Jane Work {not affiliate links}

I have a couple of paper organizing plans that work pretty well for me, including my hallway magnetic board for urgent papers. I still love and use that board!

Nevertheless, there were still too many important papers I didn’t actually need immediately that were cluttering up the board.

I have an issue with “out of sight, out of mind.” I don’t like overstuffed file drawers. I don’t like paper cuts. So I don’t file.

Filing has always been my most dreaded organizing task. When I tried to follow other people’s instructions for how to set up a filing system, I got overwhelmed in the process. If you love to file, your brain must work differently than mine :-). Too many files and I shut down.

I should have just hired an office assistant who loves to file. Maybe I still will.

But meanwhile, I was determined to figure this out and conquer my problem once and for all.

Out of desperation and fear of being buried alive in paperwork, I finally sat down and mapped out my several file drawers in my office and designed easy filing systems I actually want to use!

Baby steps. That’s the key.

I think that is actually the secret to most successful routines I use at home for cleaning or organization. The more I simplify the process and take it just one step at a time, the more likely I am to actually keep up long term!

I’m SO excited to be conquering my fear of and aversion of filing once and for all. PRETTY boxes, notebooks and files are still essential to me since I’m all for creating a pretty ROOM, but the system inside has to be simple and practical.

How to Set Up A Paper Filing System {For People Who Don't Like to File!}

file boxes or organizers in this post via See Jane Work {not affiliate links}

Today at The Decluttered Home I’m sharing a first BABY STEP plan to paper organization and filing! Come find out how I set up the first drawer of my very simple file system for time sensitive papers AND tips for how to use it! If you too have an aversion to filing but want to start getting organized, this post just might help motivate you to get started! I’m pretty happy to finally have a plan that will work even for a file-challenged girl like me. I can’t to wait to share MORE of my new-found systems for organizing papers!


  1. Bonnie

    Oh, Melissa, this is such a problem of mine. Paper just seems to accumulate. Every flat surface gets taken over. But I am always amazed when I DO sit down to do some filing at how few folders they actually sort into. Going over to check your system now.

  2. Amber at The French Pressed Home

    Having a home based business, this part has ALWAYS been a challenge for me. My husband is a Contractor and doing his paperwork is something I have to do, but loathe! You got me motivated though so I am going to cute up the office so it’s someplace I don’t mind going. :) I can do this! I can do this! WE can all do this!

    • Jenifer

      I agree to the boxes great organizing things :) The colors allow you to quickly find the item.

  3. Peggy

    Great post! In our house, my husband and I share filing cabinets (the super cute cabinets from pottery barn). Files are color-coded: pink for me, blue for him, and yellow for shared. Simplistic and a little weird–but works! He knows rt where to put his paystubs etc.

  4. Paula

    Oh man….I am the same….I am super organized at work, but at home, in my office, not so much. I do the same as you, buy pretty folders, labels, etc. thinking that is all I need to get it together…but it doesn’t work that way! You have INSPIRED me to go forward and tackle the STACK of filing in my home office!!!

  5. Cyndi

    organizing gives me so much joy, it’s kind of strange. I love the colorful storage accessories. I like to file many of my paperwork away but I also like to keep one small paper organizer tucked away in the kitchen for things like coupons, post its, random important papers, checks, labels, etc. Check out my blog! I’m a newbie and would love some support and advice!

  6. Betty Romani

    I love these storage boxes. Are they really from See Jane Work? I can’t find them anywhere online. Thanks!

    • Betty Romani

      Never mind, I found them. They are by Semikolon.

  7. Lori Fruth

    I could have written that post! My fear immobilzes me… it’s based on a perfection / procrastination issue I believe. We were wiped out (2 cars and our house) by Hurricane Harvey Aug 2017. We’re still in a FEMA motel and the little desk in the room is piled to the ceiling. The disorganization is shutting me down… after many, many issues since the hurricane (hubby contracted staph infection in the flood water, the city deeming our home ‘substantially damaged’ stating I can’t live there OR repair it – that I must raise the house to code (7′ in the air) or sell. Anyway, I hope I can find your system and it’s the one for me. Loved your post!


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