We spent New Year’s Eve at our friends Jane and Scottie’s ranch two hours outside of Dallas and then headed home the next afternoon to catch up on work and tackle a few projects around the house. Between spending more time at the office packing orders for Design Darling and wrapping a million presents the night before we left for Maine, our house had definitely seen better days and I didn’t want to ring in 2016 with wrapping paper all over the living room floor.

This also prompted Will and I to make a long list of house projects we want to tackle this year, one of which had been plaguing me since the day we moved in together: organizing all our files at home. I had an extra file box at the office and decided to sit down and sort the stack of papers accumulating in Will’s office before it got even more out of hand. The file box itself is simple and pretty, I used bright pink file folders to make it a little more fun, and now all of our important documents finally have an organized home. Here’s a system that worked well for me!

how to organize your files at home

1. Make a list of categories that you want file folders for. Here are the ones I wrote down:

– Will insurance

– Mackenzie insurance

– Rory (vet forms)

– Will taxes

– Mackenzie taxes

– House

– Cars

– Design Darling (paperwork for my business and employee)

– Travel (so I can stop misplacing my passport)

– Will keepsakes (for birthday cards and the like)

– Mackenzie keepsakes

– Will investments

It’s just the two of us in our household (plus our pup of course!) but you could have individual file folders for each of your children with birth certificates, report cards, etc. I also bought more file folders and hanging folders than I knew I needed right now so I can continue to add new categories as necessary.

how to organize important documents

2. Buy a file box or file cabinet, file folders, and hanging folders. I used this acrylic file box, these bright pink file folders, and these white hanging folders. A file cabinet might make more sense for you if you have a ton of paperwork to file (we have two of these in our office). And again, buy more file folders and hanging folders than you think you’ll need — I added a few more categories that weren’t on my initial list after realizing just how many documents were waiting to be filed away.

how to organize files at home

3. Stack your documents by category (car, house, insurance, taxes, etc.) and then sort by date within each stack. This is the most time-consuming step but also the one your future self will thank you for.

how to organize important documents at home

4. Label your file folders and match each stack of paperwork to its appropriate folder.

5. Drop your file folders into your hanging folders et voilà! You’ve got all your important documents organized at home.

how to organize paperwork at home

How do you organize your files at home? What’s one organizing project you want to tackle this year?

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  1. Hi Mackenzie! Just wondering, how to you organize and store your receipts for taxes? Do you organize them separately from your other tax docs? Thanks!

    1. Hi Justine, I just use to categorize all my business expenses purchased with a credit or debit card and add notes for each item that will pertain to taxes (e.g. Apple — computer for employee, Office Depot — bubble wrap for shipping, etc.) so I don’t have to hang on to paper receipts. I hope that helps!

  2. You may want to consider getting a small lockable firesafe. Good to keep those really important documents protected in the event of catastrophe. We have one that’s about one cubic foot inside for things like passports, social security/birth certificates and other PITA-to-replace items.

  3. I love this! We have a few more files, so I have a small filing cabinet. I currently use 3 different color folders – pink for me, blue for my husband, and green for the both of us. And when we have kids I’ll probably add 1 more new color to use for all of them. We’ve only been married 2 years, but it’s been super helpful. I also keep a tax folder for each year with all of the supporting documents for the tax return in case of an audit. And then it always makes it easier the next year during tax time to easily locate anything needed for reference.

  4. Oh, this is definitely one of those projects I definitely need to tackle, but always keep putting off for later (and later, in this case, usually means never). Now that I saw your easy and straightforward system, I have no more excuses not to dive right in. Time to look for some cute filing boxes!

  5. This post definitely just inspired me to get more organized! Between my husband and I and our pup dog, we have a lot of important documents that need to be stored safely 🙂 Super cute!

  6. I have thing filed in a similar way, though it’s been on my to do list to add more storage and consolidate my files with my fiance’s as needed. The tough part is knowing what he needs without tackling the project together (his work schedule leaves VERY limited free time).

    One thing I do differently though is that I keep passports and other very sensitive docs in a fire-proof lock box. My birth certificate and anything I only need very rarely are in a safe deposit box in the bank since they’re next to impossible to replace!

  7. so cute! i finally did this when we moved into our place in LA, and it took a HUGE weight off my shoulders not having to wonder where everything was anymore.