It’s Organize Your Files Week! and It’s Easy To Do


Organizing your files is easy. Do I hear groans? It may not be your favorite thing to do, but it is necessary to stay organized. You really only have to organize you files once a year, if you have a system set up already.

I think it is very appropriate to focus on your files this week. With the looming deadline for filing tax returns, you have finished the biggest paperwork project you do all year. So now that you have your files in order, you don’t have to worry about it for another 9 months or so.

Setting up a basic filing system is the first step to getting your paperwork organized and being able to maintain it over time. Years ago, I made this video on how to set up a basic system. You need to start with board categories and then break each of those categories down to sub categories. You should place active paperwork in a separate box from all your other paper work. Also old tax paperwork can live in a separate box.

It’s often difficult to know what paperwork you need to keep and for how long you need to keep it. You may be cautious and keep way more than needed. There are simple rules that you can follow if you are not sure what to keep and for how long. If you’d like to get Basic Organization’s Record Retention Guideline to help you know what to keep email me at and I’ll send you one. By all means, if you have any questions about what you need to keep, please contact your accountant or tax professional.

Setting up a basic filing system is the first step to getting your paperwork organized and then to being able to maintain it over time. Click To Tweet

Don’t forget, this is the time when a shredder is your best friend. It takes a little more time, but it is necessary to keep your financial identity safe. Let’s start organizing those files!

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization. She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client. Janet is a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and was voted 2016 Organizer of the Year by the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO.


  1. Seana Turner on April 13, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Okay, I have to share that I spent time last Friday going through all of my business files. I was able to let go of a lot of out date material, and I even printed fresh labels for the files I decided to keep, so they look great. That process felt very good. I’ve also been tackling old boxes of paper in our attic. We’ve kept a lot over the years (my husband is the “keeper” in our family), so this is a big project. BUT, we are making a bit of progress, so I’m hopefully going to continue this week!

    • Janet Schiesl on April 14, 2020 at 10:37 am

      Good for you Seana. I also cleaned out my file drawer with personal files in it. I still need to do my business files.

  2. Linda Samuels on April 13, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Going through and organizing papers for myself and clients is one of my favorite things to do. I know that’s strange, but I’m guessing that you identify with that “love” too. There are certain times of year that I let go of papers with the year-end being one of the main times. I recently found a box that had been hidden in a closet. To my great delight, it was filled with old financials that were prime for shredding. It was so satisfying to lighten the load. I know there are more papers in my current files that could go. I might tackle that project sooner than later. Thank you for the nudge.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 14, 2020 at 10:39 am

      Yes. I also like working on paper. I know that having this one item organized can make such a big difference in a client’s life. It does really lighten the load.

  3. Sabrina Quairoli on April 13, 2020 at 10:49 am

    Paper files are so crucial to through and minimize. I wrote many posts about the topic both on my organizing and admin services blogs. For small business owners, they tend to keep way more than they need. Checking the IRS website for what to keep is a great place to start.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 14, 2020 at 10:42 am

      I agree that business owners keep way more than needed. I always suggest going digital.

  4. Janet Barclay on April 14, 2020 at 6:46 am

    Thanks for the reminder! Now that I produce and keep less paper overall, my practice of clearing old files on a yearly basis doesn’t happen anymore because I don’t need to free up space in the filing cabinet. That means that a lot of what’s in there is seriously outdated, so I really should get back to it.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 14, 2020 at 10:46 am

      I agree. I started using a CRM last year and it greatly reduced my paper so I don’t feel the need to clear out my files yet this year.

  5. Ronni Eisenberg on April 14, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    Organizing papers, especially for tax season, can be the most onerous task. It’s one area that my clients have struggled with for years. For myself, I try to keep less paper and organize my information in folders on line. For now it’s working!

    • Janet Schiesl on April 15, 2020 at 4:36 pm

      Glad to hear it’s working Ronnie. I am also almost completely digital. If you have a system to collect tax information you can do it throughout the year and don’t have the large task once a year.

  6. Nancy Haworth on April 14, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    Great tips! Having an organized file system is so important. I have spent some of this stay-at-home time decluttering and organizing my files.

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