Wouldn’t it be amazing to have all the paper in your life organized and in its place? To know exactly what to do with each piece of paper in your home? To actually have a home for all the papers you keep? For the paper to be flowing like a river neatly through your home and office? No floods. No backlogs. 

It IS possible. If you feel it isn’t, please click here to sign up for a free call with me. I’ve helped clients, in person and online, go from paper piled all around them to have every piece of paper organized and a system to follow moving forward!

This could be true for you, too.

This is the final episode in our three-part paper series.

07 | Is Paper A Problem? Simple Solutions to Reduce and Organize Paper and Emails in Your Office and Home
08 | Struggling to Organize Your Paper? The 3 Questions To Help You Process Paper

Today we will talk about:

  • what to do with old paper,
  • how to get started organizing paper when you are overwhelmed by the magnitude of this task, and
  • simple tips for setting up hanging files in your file cabinet.  

In this episode, I’ll show you:

  • Specific tips to name your hanging files in your file cabinet
  • How to start the process of organizing old piles of paper
  • The best way to set up the sorting process
  • Two specific examples of clients and how they organized old paper
  • Several examples of what to THINK to accomplish this project.

Your Organized Paper Coach,

Tracy Hoth's Signature

Resources Mentioned:

FREE File Naming Formula Cheatsheet
Get Time Freedom with a Systemized and Organized Business 
FREE Workshop: 3 Secrets to Organize Your Digital Files 

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Wouldn’t it be amazing to have all the paper in your life organized and in its place? To know exactly what to do with each piece of paper in your home and to have a home for it? For the paper to be flowing, like we talked about last time, like a river neatly through your home and office with no floods, no backlogs.

It is possible. I just want you to know that, and if you feel like it isn’t, please sign up for a call with me@simplysquaredaway.com for slash appointments. I have helped people, of course, in person, but also online go from paper piled up all around them to having everything organized. And this could be true for you too.

So please be encouraged. This is the final episode in our paper series. Today we’re gonna talk about what to do with old paper, and how to get started when you feel overwhelmed completely like it’s such a monstrous task that you’re up against. And how to set up paper files. So let’s get into it. Are you ready to work less, feel more organized and productive, streamline repetitive tasks, and implement systems that allow your coaching business to run smoothly even without you?

If so, you’re in the right place. Welcome to The Organized Coach Podcast, your go-to source for practical tips and solutions. I’m your host, Tracy Ho. Professional organizer, certified life coach, simplifying expert, and most of all, down-to-earth fellow coach just like you. No matter if you think you’re missing the organizing gene, have ADHD, or just love anything organizing.

I’m here to help you become an organized coach with a business that works for you. Pull up a seat and let’s get started.

Here we go. The third part of our series. In episode seven, we identified sources of paper coming into your homes and offices and just envisioning them like a river paper is like a river in your home flowing through.

And we need to know where this paper is coming from because the more we reduce paper coming into our house, the better. I will include, again, the resource page on my website for the paper that includes all the ways to reduce your paper. That will be in the show notes. Then in episode eight, we talked about, how paper comes in.

I want you to have a place, one location as much as possible if it’s in your office or if it’s in your kitchen, wherever it is, that paper is stored. When it comes in it’s housed and it’s contained. So using an inbox for that is essential. And then we talked about processing the paper. We have to schedule a time to process the paper.

If this isn’t something that already comes naturally to you, because otherwise what’s gonna happen, it’s gonna build up. We use the three how questions to process the paper, and that was in episode eight. You can get a free PDF download of that if you haven’t already. Store it next to your inbox and begin to create the habit of processing paper.

Remember the main goal with paper is to get rid of it. How can I get rid of this? Where can I get rid of it? How can I let it go? How can I not even have it come in? So that is the goal. Today we’re gonna talk about what to do next. So we have our paper, we’re in the practice of processing it. We have what we’re gonna keep, and so we talked about a desktop file bin for something that is temporary.

Then, permanent storage in a file cabinet for something that’s permanent. That’s my choice. That’s the easiest, I think to do. But I mean, there’s no right or wrong. You have to test things and see what works for you and the way your mind works and the way your house is set up, or your office is set up.

But thinking about files in the file cabinet, I wanted to give you a couple of tips. I completely think it’s the easiest if you use broad file names. The broader you can get, the better, because I don’t know if you’ve heard this statistic before, but 80% of what we file, we never go see again. We never go into the file to get that paper again.

We need it to be easier for us to put the paper in storage, and to put the paper in the file. Then it needs to be for us to go in and get it because we don’t go in and get many things that are in there. The broader the file name, the easier it is for us to file it, and that’s why I like file drawers because they can just drop the piece of paper in.

It’s very easy. With my files. I like to have a file for each member of the family. This has been an amazing feature. I really encourage you to implement this, especially if you still have kids in the home. Because what I would say to my kids is go check your file. It’s in your file. Go look in your file.

And they all knew where to go to find the papers that they needed. So a file for every member of the family. And then really broad, I have home everything for our home is in one home file that that’s our homeowner’s association. Any current information we have? It could be receipts for big purchases, it could be a piece of paper recording the improvements we made. It could be a utility statement. Sometimes we need those for renewing our licenses or getting our cars registered. We need proof of where we live. Those things are just in a file called home. Another broad file name is investments and any paper or information in regard to our investments is in that one file, everything we have.

Another one would be insurance. All of our insurance, if it has the word insurance, it’s in that one file. We might need our car insurance statement and we go into that file. We might have to flip through four more pieces of paper, but all of our insurance is in that file. Now I do separate cars just because we have a lot of kids and we’ve had various cars, so I do separate that out.

[00:06:00] But you could have just one auto file and everything for your cars could be in that one file. See what I mean? Make the file names broad. And the reason for this is if you have a company that you’ve used and you have that company name written out on a file tab, when you change companies, now all of a sudden it feels really wrong to put that in that file.

So what I see happen is people lay things on the counter and they’re gonna change that file later and they never get to it, and that never gets filed, and then it’s a problem. Don’t include names of companies, just include the topic or the category. That’s worked for me and for a lot of my clients. Now, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong if you get more specific.

I have a client that really has specific things, but she also has her label maker right next to it, and she’s very organized, so she likes more specific things, and that’s totally fine. I’m just giving you some ideas for you with your file cabinet. Okay. If we look at the river, the paper came in, it went into our contained inbox.

We processed it. We put it in permanent storage, or we put it in temporary storage. We have that mapped out. Now we have a system for paper. But Tracy, what about all the paper that I have all over my house? What about all that paper I took off the counter when we were gonna have company and I shoved it in the corner in a bag in my room, in the closet, down in the basement, up in the attic?

I want you to get all that paper into one location. Get everything into one location, and this is gonna be your project hub. The first thing we do whenever we’re organizing anything is to sort and remember the steps to organize, sort, purge, assign homes, set limits, and maintain. We have kind of the maintenance set up with the last two episodes.

But we need to do all the backlog papers. We’re gonna sort first, and you can set up maybe some shoe boxes or post-it notes, or one wall of your room. You would have categories taped to the wall right above it. I mean, there’s no best way, just pick something. In an area where you can start sorting your paper into categories, and these categories might look like this:

I like to have super important papers. I like to have a category called action needed. And after that, you might have all kinds of categories. One could be shred, one could be recycle, one could be home. One could be office, one could be to file anything is fine, but you’re gonna just pick a piece of paper up and say, what category is this? And put it into one of those categories, obviously might not be able to get all that done in one sitting.

So the easiest way that you can contain those categories so they don’t get all mixed up into each other is the best way to do it. And maybe that’s a spare bedroom or a space where people aren’t gonna be for a while while you work on this project. When I helped a client do this, she got shoe boxes or any boxes that she had.

She lined them up in her dining room and she labeled the outside with just a piece of paper and some tape taped the paper on and started sorting paper every single day. She decided that she could sort five pieces of paper per day. That was her minimum and she felt so confident because she had a plan.

Now she had a plan and all she had to do was five pieces of paper sorting into those categories. Of course, what happens when you have a minimum like that, you get started and then you’re like, oh, this is easy. I’m gonna keep going. Or I actually have a little more than five minutes today, so I’m gonna work on this a little bit longer.

You sort all the papers into those categories. And then the next step is purge. You go back through each of the piles and you purge them, and then you assign homes. Do you need to make files for those? Are they temporary? Is action needed? So that would go in your temporary place. You would assign those things to your calendar.

Is it something super important that you need to put into your safe? How are you gonna do that? When will you shred your ginormous pile of shred? Where will that go? And then recycling the rest. So you’re gonna go back through each pile and purge and assign homes to those papers. Now that’s what it looks like to go back through old paper.

I wanted to give you another example though. One of my clients had so much old paper and her spouse didn’t want her to get rid of anything. What we did in that situation is to sort by year. We had a tub for the current year, a tub for the past year, a tub for the previous year, and anything before that. We threw out ads that came in the mail, but anything else we opened, looked at the year and just put it in the tub.

Now what happens? She’ll probably never need to go into those tubs. But everything is where we know it is by year, and we can find it when we need it. It’s actually organized, even though it’s not in files, it’s in a tub with the year labeled on the outside. So that’s another way of doing it. And you’re organized.

If you have to go back and find it, it might take a little bit longer, but that’s totally okay. That’s what you do with old paper. Bring it in, get it set up, and then sort it little by little into piles and categories. And then go back through and purge and assign homes to those, what else is coming to your mind?

What would you have to believe to be able to do this? I always like to ask that question. If you were going to start this project of sorting through and organizing old paper, what would you have to believe about yourself? Now, as I had mentioned, my one client said, She believed, I have a plan. I have support.

Now I can do it. I can do five minutes. I can do five pieces of paper. Those were some [00:12:00] of her thoughts. What would you have to believe? I. I’m on the road to getting organized. This is gonna feel so good. Each little step is moving me forward. I am becoming an organized person. I’m committed to taking action every day.

No exceptions. Those are just some ideas you tell me and please leave me a message. DM me on Instagram at Tracy hath Let me know what other questions are coming to mind regarding paper. Did I forget anything? Is there other resistance coming up in your mind? Do you have file questions, reducing paper questions?

Please let me know and I will do another episode on this, and if you found it helpful. Let me know. Reach out to me, take a screenshot of the episode you’re listening to, and tag me on Instagram at Tracy Hoth. Okay? Have fun. Get it on your calendar when you will organize your paper, when you will start this project, and when you will complete it.

Have an amazing day. We’ll see you next week. Thanks for listening to the episode. Please share this episode with your coaching bestie and tag me on Instagram at Tracy Hoth. And of course, I would be so grateful if you could subscribe and leave a written review on Apple Podcasts. It’s the number one way you can thank me.

To thank you, go grab the file naming formula cheat sheet, and watch the workshop. Replay three secrets to organize your digital files. Both are linked in the show notes. Until next time, have a beautiful week.

Tracy Hoth