Friday, March 28, 2014

32 Monthly Clean Home Challenge: File Paper Piles

Welcome back to the Monthly Clean Home Challenge daily task!  I am on a quest to maintain a clean and organized home in less time and the goal is simple; four daily tasks, four weekly tasks and one additional quick task each week day. 

In no particular order, here are the individual tasks I am tackling each day this month:
  1. Make cleaning supplies
  2. Cycle clean appliances
  3. Clean out cars
  4. Clean out microwave
  5. Wipe down cabinets/appliances
  6. Wipe down trim/doors
  7. Clean out one drawer
  8. Clean out fridge
  9. Clean out freezer
  10. Vacuum under furniture
  11. Vacuum mattresses
  12. Clean oven
  13. Clean out one closet
  14. Wash out garbage can/recycle bin
  15. Wash windows
  16. Scrub grout
  17. Clean out one cabinet
  18. File paper piles
  19. Purge bathroom toiletries
  20. Clean out pantry

Today I am chatting about the extra task:  File Paper Piles

Over the years I have gone through trials and errors in regards to paper clutter.  There was a day when I was so on top of every piece of paper that entered our home, that it consumed more time than I care to admit.  There also have been times in which I have had to face months worth of papers all at once.  For now, I would like to think I have found a happy medium, which has been working for us for awhile now.

I get asked all of the time about how to manage paper piles and clutter, so consider a condensed version of what we do.

We have had a wall system of in-boxes for years now, and to this day it is still one of my most favorite organizing products ever {found here}.

Each day when the mail comes in, I open it and instantly do the following:
  • Recycle junk mail
  • Clip correspondences with dates into my daily planner {invitations, appointments, etc...}
  • Place invoices/bills into our budget binder
  • All other mail/statements/catalogs/miscellaneous paperwork goes into our mail bin

Each day when the boys come home from school, they hand over their folders for me to look at their papers:
  • Papers I wish to hold on to {tests, report cards, writing milestones, etc...} are placed into each boy's mail bin
  • Papers with important information regarding school projects, events, newsletters, etc... are placed within each boy's mail bin
  • Papers/homework which need to be logged and returned to school are clipped onto the side of the fridge {with their awesome fridge clips}

The process each day is so streamlined and quick each day, and that is where everything stays throughout the remainder of the month.   Until today!  Filing day!

I have found that instead of heading downstairs to our filing cabinet and then back into our guest bedroom to the boy's school boxes and filing each and every day, that I am far more efficient doing it all at once at the end of each month.  It is also nice keeping relevant items in the easy-to-access mail bins throughout the month where the entire family can locate them if we need to reference anything recent.

To start the filing process off each month, I completely empty the bins onto our kitchen table and keep everything sorted into easy to file piles.

I go through each pile and place anything that is still relevent back into our active mail bins, and file away the rest accordingly.  Boy's items into their school bins, our papers into our file cabinet.  Everything else is either shredded or recycled.

We were finally running out of space in our previous filing box so we upgraded to a filing cabinet about a month ago.  I haven't gotten around to completely organizing it, so stay tuned for that post when it happens.

I have found that paper is inevitable, however, filing has gotten much easier since we have gone paperless with our bank and utility companies.  We are able to save our bank statements digitally as PDF files as well as many of the monthly bills we receive.  A lot of the items we still file are items that we need to keep for tax purposes, records of home repair, correspondence regarding insurance, etc...

I always wait until the end of the month to do this, so that we can start each month out with a fresh slate and nearly empty mail bins.  Now we are all set for April!

Looking for something?  Check out my favorite cleaning products below:

Congrats on completing and entire month of cleaning and organizing tasks!  I had so much fun with this challenge and truly appreciate everyone that followed along with me and shared their excitement along the way!  I will recap everything within a post next week and be sure to include all of my current favorite natural cleaner recipes and links to all of the posts within the series. 


  1. Hi Jen,
    I cannot remember how i stumbled upon your blog, but I am SO happy that I did! It has been such an inspiration following you this past month, with your cleaning challenge. So inspirational, that I have now started my own (which were supposed to start on April 1st, but I ended up starting right away!)

    I would like to know if you can remember where you bought that mail-organizer? It's perfect!

    Looking forward to following you in the future,
    Best wishes - Camilla from Denmark :0)

    1. Thank you Camilla! I am happy you stumbled upon the blog as well! :)

      The daily system is from Pottery Barn:


  2. Thanks for all the great organising tips this month! Have only managed a couple of tasks, but have scheduled to do at least one a week next month too (I'm disabled so not all are within my abilities) & hope to get a little better organised by my birthday at end of may!
    Love your blog, it makes me escape my horrible home for a while! Please keep up the wonderful posts!!
    Donna x

  3. Hi Jen,
    Where do you keep this organization station in your house? I would like to set one up myself but am unsure where i should put it.
    Thanks, Heidi

    1. Hi Heidi!

      We keep ours in our kitchen tucked between our garage entry door and our fridge. I love that it is out of sight for the most part because it tends to get cluttered throughout the month, but it is always in our heaviest traffic area for easy access.


  4. Wow! I really needed to read this today… I have been avoiding my filing for ages, purely because I don't have a go-to system! And the laziness of walking up and down our stairs to file every day is a daunting task! Thanks for sharing x

  5. Love your system, as a single mom and kindergarten teacher paper clutter has been my biggest issue. My work always seems to impede on my personal life. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Everything looks so clean bright and tidy. I love it.
    L x

  7. Love your system! Sometimes I feel like my boys' school paperwork is going to be the death of me, lol. The bring home SO much, and they're even still little! I can't imagine what it will be like when they get older. We have gone mostly paperless and use a high speed scanner and Evernote to file everything, including some of our boys' artwork (at least the stuff that will fit through the scanner!), so that has helped cut the clutter some. I think an inbox system for each boy like yours would help too. Thanks as always for your brilliant ideas! Have a great weekend!

    ~Abby =)

  8. Great advice. "The papers" were always the biggest source of angst for me, when trying to keep my house in order. I'd finally get to the bottom of the pile and have everything filed or recycled, and the mail would come and the kids would come home from school and another pile would immediately appear. I love your system of "filing" each piece of paper right away. I used to stop at the recycling bin in the garage on my way in from getting the mail and drop the junk mail right in there.

  9. I love this system. I need to figure out something similar for myself. :) Looking forward to the cleaning recipes!

  10. Jen! ( OK so in my head it was Jin-ay. Forest Bump messed with how Iprocess your name...forever!!! ) aanyway..will the entire months blogs still be accessible now that you are finito? I did pretty well, but I'm still purging and organizing each room, so didn't finish all of it :( ( hangs head in shame) lol

    1. So funny Whitney! People have called me Jin-ay for years because of that movie. :)

      And absolutely! I am hoping to put a permanent link on the sidebar to the entire group of tasks and the final recap post. And don't be hard on yourself! Any progress is good progress! The goal was to just break tasks down into bite size chunks, and it sounds like you are on a roll! Kudos! <3

  11. I just have to say I love your blog! I love the tips and tricks I can use in my student life, but I also feel like I'm preparing myself until I get my own home, kids and entering the real adulthood :P

  12. I seriously need a filing cabinet.
    With 2 toddlers in school, and two more who will be soon, I need more space for their lovely masterpieces.
    I do not keep everything, but there are some things that my girls just suprise me with, that I want to be able to show them when they are older. Some that I would love to frame and hang in their room. I think ya get the hint.
    I can't wait to get a nice filing cabinet so I don't have to mix all our files/papers together.

  13. Have you posted about how you set up your wall in-box system in the past? I tried search but don't see anything. Would love to see more details! xoxo thx

    1. Hi Holly! I have shared bits and pieces of it over the years. I found it at Pottery Barn and we just assign one bin per family member {the hubby and I share one}. We use the center piece to hold our keys, pens, stamps, a notepad, labels, etc...

      Here's the link to the pieces:


  14. I recently posted my organized refrigerator command center on my blog. I had a serious issue with paper clutter myself. It has seriously reduced the 'paper jam'. Lol. Great post! :)

  15. Do you keep your pdfs in the cloud or on your machines? Do you do a backup on an external drive or through a service? Having lost a hard drive, I worry about electronic copies. Thanks! Brilliant post, as always.

    1. Completely understandable! We use both an external and a back-up service {Crashplan}. I also store a few things on my Dropbox account as well.


  16. Hi Jen,
    I just want to thank you so much for doing this monthly cleaning chart. I have been so motivated and productive by your posts. Love love love your filing system. Today I cleaned out our second refrigerator, tomorrow...filing paper work!!! :D Have a great weekend! xxoo

    1. Thank YOU Renie! That means so much to me and I am so excited to hear that you have been getting some things accomplished! It feels SO good!!

  17. Thank you for the cleaning chart! This will get me on track in my home. Check out my new Transformation Tuesdays.

  18. Lovely ideas Jennifer!
    Although I actually wanted to say I finally got round to cleaning my oven today thanks to your blog inspiring me to get on and tackle this task, so thank you!! x

  19. I'm super sad that this was the last day. I have never been so motivated, hope to see more house cleaning post even with this month being over.

  20. Thank you for this post! You inspired me to actually organize our office today & and it feels amazing not having to live in clutter anymore.

  21. What do you use the mason jar shakers for in cleaning?

    1. Hi Delana!

      They are great when paired with baking soda {for sprinkling the soda on the oven, dishwasher, mattress, etc...}. I made my own from mason jars, but tossed those on the list as an alternative option.


  22. This is exactly what I needed- such a great system!! I am going to tackle my paper issues soon and have pinned to come back and reread again and again! Thanks for your awesome tips!!

  23. I love the pretty turquoise letter stand & white ceramic pencil holder. Do you remember where you sourced those?

    1. Hello!

      The letter stand was found at Goodwill and spray painted {I believe it was initially used to hold napkins} and the white pen cup is a tealight holder from West Elm, but I have also seen similar styles at Target.



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