My #1 Trick to Staying Organized

At least three times a day, someone comments on my organizational skills. While I think there are tons more people who are WAY more organized than I am, I thought I’d share something I use that helps me out big time!

Folders.

Yep, that’s it. I’m sorry if you were looking for something ground breaking or earth shattering or anything like that – it’s pretty simple. Folders. Four of them, to be exact.

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As you can see, they’re labeled:

  • Chart & Pay
  • File
  • Coupons & Gift Cards
  • Current Projects

Well, you can’t really see the last one, can you? Here you go:

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These four folders go with me everywhere I go. They’re not hard to bring along – they normally even fit in my purse! (Here’s an idea of how thick they are all together, next to a pen…)

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No problem at all.

So why four folders?

  • Chart & Pay – In this folder are all the bills that are coming due. When I get home from work every day, one of the first things I do is go through our mail (so it doesn’t start backing up into a pile!) I pull the bills, open them, check the amounts, and then place them into the Chart & Pay folder. When I get to work, before I clock in or while I’m on my lunch break, I chart the bills on my calendar and set reminders for myself, so I know when to pay what. (I do this at work since I keep address labels and stamps at work, too. The reason I don’t like to do much of this stuff at home is because we have one of those big community mail boxes…and the “out” box is a little sketchy. I always wonder if anything actually gets taken out from there or not, ha! So if I mail things from work, I can actually see the mail person come in and pick up the mail and take it away. Peace of mind!) Once the payment of the bill has been taken care of, I put the stub or remaining paperwork into the File folder.
  • File – This is basically for anything that I’m working on while I’m away from home that has a place at home. For instance, as I mentioned the bills above. When the action on them has been completed, I drop them into this File folder and then, once a week, I take the File folder and place everything in it’s place in the files in our home office.
  • Coupons & Gift Cards – While I’m not an extreme couponer, by any means, I do keep coupons for certain items, and somehow I’m always being given gift cards and certificates, etc. I keep them all here, so when I’m out, they’re with me, instead of me trying to remember where I put them!
  • Current Projects – This is the biggest folder (as you can see!) And what is a current project, you ask? Well, right now I have everything from business cards that I’m designing for a client to medical paperwork I need to fill out to ideas for decorating our back porch! It’s a folder for everything I happen to be in the process of…and I tend to call everything a “project”.

So there you go! That’s my #1 trick to staying organized! Do you think it would help you? What’s YOUR #1 trick to staying organized?

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71 thoughts on “My #1 Trick to Staying Organized

  1. I do a lot of folders, too! I don’t have as much paperwork these days as I used to, but I think if I keep everything paperwork wise where I can find them when I need them, things go a lot more smoothly!

  2. I’m all about simple! I’ve tried to keep an elaborate system for organizing, but it just doesn’t work. I’m a file person, too, so I’m going to adopt your way of staying organized! Great post!

  3. I’m a scan and file in my dropbox kind of person, but I definitely do all my bill paying at work too. I like mailing from work for the same reason. We’ve actually had people steal mail from our mailbox at home so it’s even more of a reason.

  4. File folders have always been my best friend for organizing! I have actually told people that they should use them when they start complaining around tax time about how they can’t find anything!

  5. Seems like a great system though all my bills get paid automatically so I wouldn’t use that folder. I can’t remember the last time I had to put a payment in the mail. It that not usually done in the US?

    • Well, I don’t like our bills being paid automatically for one reason: sometimes they get deducted more than once, and create big issues in our account. We pay lots of stuff online ourselves…but when they are going to charge us a fee to pay online…that’s when I send a check or something. It varies.

  6. I was just recently thinking of trying something like the scanning and dropbox idea that Misty uses, but I just don’t see me taking the time to do that to every document. I do use folders, I just need to do more like what you do and have four or so with me and file things immediately so that they are not piled all over my desk. Great post!

  7. Excellent idea! I used to keep a binder of all of our bills (and I always wanted paper bills, never online). Well, the binder got super heavy and I finally decided that I was holding on to bills for wayyyy too long. Three years of phone bills is probably unnecessary – ha! What I did for our bills is make everything online bills (you will not believe how little mail we actually get now). I have a monthly calendar (that I made using Excel) and I write down what day every bill is due, since normally a bill will be due at the same time every month (mortgage is always due on the 1st, phone is always due on the 10th, etc.) and when I get the email of my bill I write down the amount due next to the name of the bill on the monthly sheet. THEN every time we get paid, I pay all of the bills that are due between that pay check and the next. This way I know that everything “extra” is truly extra. It’s really minimized my paper madness and it’s actually very efficient too. I keep all the monthly sheets in the back of my calendar, and this way I can fill my calendar with appointments and little tidbits rather than ALWAYS having to look at due bills – ha!

  8. I love that this is still “analog.” I have tried digital reminders and organizers, but there is something fantastic about still being able to touch and feel what you are working on and move them from a To Do pile to Done! There’s something very satisfying about that. I definitely need to chart things out on the calendar more thoroughly. My project for next week…get organized! Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. I need to make a chart and pay folder. That is an awesome idea. We (husband and I) usually just let he bills stack on our desks in the computer room. And my husband has forgotten to pay a bill because he couldn’t find it! Not good. Now for the coupons I have a crate filled with folders but that is a totally different story.

  10. Love the simplicity of it! Thankfully we are not so much into coupons here in Canada. It safes us a lot of time, and I sure prefer a good sale.

  11. It’s smart to keep your coupons and the like with you when you’re out. I always say I’m going to do that and then I don’t! No clue why!!

  12. I love my calendars! I have a regular paper one on my wall where all the farm and family stuff goes, and i also use the electronic one with my email for all the stuff my husband doesn’t care about. I’d be lost without them!

  13. I have a file system also that really helps me stay organized. I am however thinking about going to one of the paperless file systems where I scan everything and place them in virtual folders. I know there are some newer software programs out there that look really simple and I want to try one.

  14. I used to have a nice and elaborate filing system. However, my DH found it difficult to co-manage it and decided he would take over everything. So now if I don’t find anything at least I can blame him 🙂

  15. I love how you’re ALWAYS so organized! I have a place for bills.. it’s my husband’s desk! my place for projects.. kitchen table. As for coupons.. oh boy.. a plastic file tote ‘and’ an accordion coupon organizer for trips to the store. Thank god I’m organized at work.. well, I know where to find what, that’s organized, right? I absolutely need a live in personal assistant/coach!!!

  16. Pingback: On the Road in May |

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