Organizing the Most Thorough Home Office Filing System

Hi friends! I hope y’all had a mah-valous weekend. Mine consisted of lots of organizing, which feels amazing in the end, but throughout the process you start to think you’d much rather just throw everything away than deal with sorting it all. (Ya feel me?)
After organizing our coat closet though, I really can’t quit! And stop #2 on my list was our office that really was less of an office and more like a landing zone of junk until we could figure out where to put everything. (I really can’t use the excuse of “We just moved in” for much longer.)  So if your home office looks more like a sea of papers that you have to wade through to even reach your desk, I’ve got your back.

Many months ago, I told y’all how we found a Pottery Barn Bedford Desk that normally retails for $900 for just $180 on Craigslist. And it has tons of possibilities for organization. We picked up an additional filing cabinet for $10 at Goodwill too. I think the teacher in me is still alive from my lesson plan filing days, because I tackled this thing with a vengeance!


So I gathered up all of the little papers that were floating around our house, stuck in drawers, lying on counters, stuffed into our overflowing fire-proof box, and figured out a filing system that instantly transformed our office into one of the most functional rooms in our house. (It’s about dang time!)

And, of course, to really get into the organizing mood, buy some crisp, new hanging folders, and type up some labels to make your file drawers easy to navigate.

I spaced out the organizing process over the course of a couple of days while our little one napped. Take it from one who attempted it, organizing files with a toddler in your office is impossible. For real, just walk away until they conk out at bedtime.

Home Office Filing System Plan:
(Each sub-header is labeled for the category of each file cabinet drawer.)

Bills/Banking:
Billing- Internet Service
Billing- Security System Service
Billing- Cell Phone Service
Billing- Mortgage
Billing- Life Insurance
Billing- Home Insurance
Billing-Electricity
Billing-Water
Billing-Gas
Paid Bills- January
Paid Bills- February
Paid Bills- March
Paid Bills- April
Paid Bills- May
Paid Bills- June
Paid Bills- July
Paid Bills- August
Paid Bills- September
Paid Bills- October
Paid Bills- November
Paid Bills- December
(At the end of the year, paid bills are filed into the our Taxes/Income drawer.)
Credit Card Statements
Loan- Mortage Information
Loans- Paid Off
Bank Statements- January
Bank Statements- February
Bank Statements- March
Bank Statements- April
Bank Statements- May
Bank Statements- June
Bank Statements- July
Bank Statements- August
Bank Statements- September
Bank Statements- October
Bank Statements- November
Bank Statements- December 
(Bank statements are filed into the Taxes/Income drawer at the end of the year.)
House/Auto/Warranties:
Auto Policies
Homeowners Association
Contractors
House Deed
Builder’s Warranty (If you have a new home. Ours has a structural warranty of 10 years.)
Home Inspection(s)
Records- Exterminator
Manual- Car #1
Manual- Car #2
Manual- Car Security Systems
Warranty- Refrigerator
Warranty- Dishwasher
Warranty- Garage Door Openers
Warranty- Washing Machine
Warranty- TV
(Add however many warranties you have on hand. Definitely save them in case something breaks or if you want to resale later. Toss after expiration. Update– Reader tip: When you purchase a new appliance, write the date of purchase on the outside of the owner’s manual and staple the receipt to it as well before you file it away. You think you will remember how old that washing machine is but time flies and you don’t realize how long it has been.)
Sold Vehice Documents
Copies of Wills
Wedding Ring Documents (Appraisals/Insurance/Maintenance)
Maintenance- Car #1
Maintenance- Car #2
Taxes/Income: (You may need 6 folders for each year date category for six consecutive years in case of an audit. The IRS will generally not go back further than six years.)
Tax Donations- Year Date
Office Expenses- Year Date
Travel Expenses- Year Date
Job #1- Year Date
Job #2- Year Date
Filed Tax Documents- Year Date
Retirement Documents
Stocks (if applicable)
Trust Fund (if applicable)
Annuity (if applicable)
Other IRS Documents
Medical/Education/Work/Military (if applicable):
Doctor Bills Paid- Family Member #1
Doctor Bills Paid- Family Member #2
Doctor Bills Paid- Family Member #3
Medical Benefits Summaries
Medical Documents- Family Member #1
Medical Documents- Family Member #2
Medical Documents- Family Member #3
Prescriptions
Vision
Dental
Veterans Affairs
Vet
Education Accolades- Family Member #1
Education Accolades- Family Member #2
Education Accolades- Family Member #3
Military Accolades
Work-Related Documents (Contracts, certifications, etc.)
Resumes 
Portfolios
Art/Love Letters/Special Cards/Photos:
Artwork- Year- Child’s Name (Make as many folders as needed for years created and children’s names.)
Love Letters
Special Cards- Birthdays
Special Cards- Anniversaries
Special Cards- Showers/Birth
Special Cards- Wedding
(Save envelopes as well to maintain a record of family members’ mailing addresses or log them into a spreadsheet.)
Photo CDs/USBs- Year Date (Make as many folders as needed for years taken.)
*For birth certificates, marriage license, social security cards, military discharge papers, defined-benefit plan documents, copies of estate-planning documents, copies of life-insurance policies, and the like, keep in a safe deposit box at the bank. (God forbid something should happen to your home.)
Take a look at this article from USA.gov for more important information regarding guidelines for safe deposit boxes and emergency kits.

I think this post is going in the record books for the most technical one to-date, but it is amazing what organizing files can do for your peace-of-mind. It’s like doing a yoga marathon! Cleansing breath, people.

Happy organizing!

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17 Comments

  1. Starting all over at the beginning of 2017! Never too old to learn. Heck! We moved 2X in 2015 while selling old home/building new home and we are ‘seasoned citizens’ of 65 & 72 now.
    Can we do this? Yes, we can!!

  2. I recently did some filing but your system is so neat and covers almost everything. Great job! I will definitely revisit it as I am overwhelm with paper and my inability to locate them is stressful and costly (monetary) at times.

    1. Thank you, Beatrice! So glad it could help! I totally agree. Having paper piles everywhere is definitely one of the most stressful types of clutter.

  3. Thank you so much for this; For a few months now, I’ve been overwhelmed with paper clutter and didn’t have a filing system in place. Hopefully by the end of the month I’ll have it done. I couldn’t find a good filing list , but your list is perfect!

    1. So glad to hear that, Sher! I’ve slacked off lately and need to get back in the filing habit too. It really does help so much.

    1. Yay! So glad it helped, Ashley! It’s helped so much for our sanity and the drowning in paperwork feeling.

  4. I just read this and I love your system. I’m a legal secretary and practice high standards of organization in my office on a daily basis. Your system is similar to the one I started to create at home, however mine has yet to take off. It’s a daunting task for me because I have so much paper clutter! Anyway, I did want to add, and this might go without saying, keep a printout of your [home office] file list as well as an electronic copy, should the hard copy get lost. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Gina! That’s so good to know that it gets the stamp of approval by a legal secretary! Good tip about the file list. I’ll have to remember that.

  5. My husband started out file system and I’m so thankful he did. I know exactly where to find things when I need them. Like at the beginning of the school year when I needed shot records, power bill, and birth certificate – it was all in the filing cabinet. I also staple my receipts to my purchases. Not office related but I staple the receipt for clothes to the tags so I don’t have to keep track of them. It paid off when my daughter outgrew her back to school dress in the 3 weeks before school started. Welcome to NC Bloggers! Looking forward to getting to know you better.

  6. One more little tip. When you purchase a new appliance, write the date of purchase on the outside of the owners manual and staple the receipt to it as well before you file it away. You think you will remember how old that washing machine is but time flies and you don’t realize how long it has been. You have a great system set up!

      1. For the over cautious… Also photocopy the receipt and fold that snide the front cover. A lot of receipts these days are printed on thermal paper that often deteriorates over time. If you have a 5 year warranty, and pull the receipt 4 years later, it’s not always readable, and sometimes that’s all they need to deny the warranty… Trust me, it happens! 🙂

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