22 Ways to Organize Important Documents, Bills, and Receipts

shelves hooks command center
Photo: Ann Vander Wilde/The Wilde Project

Between receipts, bills, mail, and important documents, paperwork can be a major contributor to countertop clutter. Get paper pile-ups under control with efficient strategies for sorting and storing. Use these clever ideas to get your paperwork organized (and keep it that way).

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Streamlined System

small office area with rolling doors
Kritsada Panichgul

Stash everything you need to accomplish a task in one designated area. For example, if you frequently need to jot down notes and address envelopes, a desktop organizer is ideal for storing writing utensils and supplies. Keep items that you don't use as much tucked away in a nearby but out-of-the-way spot, like boxes or bins on upper shelves.

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Reorder and Recycle

White shelving with boxes
John Granen

Stop searching high and low for papers and receipts. Instead, an effective important document organizer is a lidded file box. Stackable plastic bins are also an option for keeping paperwork in order. Designate an hour each month to sort through the containers to stay organized. Then, toss things you no longer need and archive last month's bills and receipts in a separate file.

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Built-in Solution

hidden cabinet pockets kitchen fridge
Anthony Masterson

Keep your essential paperwork in an easy-access spot that's out of sight for guests. Install built-in shelves and pockets on the interior of a shallow cabinet in the kitchen or office to store items that would typically clutter refrigerator doors, countertops, and desks. Closing the door conceals the storage area for a tidy look.

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Action Items

shelves hooks command center
Ann Vander Wilde/The Wilde Project

Organize incoming mail and papers in a snap with separate slots for different actions. Whether it's a permission slip, bill, or birthday card, this simple system helps you keep track of items to send and those you have yet to open. Keep up with organizing to ensure that the to-be-filed area doesn't overflow, and action items get sent out when necessary.

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File It Away

file cabinet
The Wilde Project

Set up household filing cabinets to keep track of important documents and other papers (like kids' school projects) you'd like to keep. Organize your files with labels and take time to sort all of your documents into the appropriate sections. Setting up the filing cabinet with an organized system right away will help you keep it well-ordered in the long run.

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Important Document Organizer

Organized closet with seating and drawers
Jay Wilde

Designate a cabinet or closet as your important document organizer space away from your main desk area. Lidded file boxes and stacked drawers make it easy to keep each family member's papers and school projects contained in a tidy manner. Attach labels to the front of each drawer or bin, so each person knows which spot is theirs.

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Wall Files

Wire baskets hanging on wall filled with papers
Cameron Sadeghpour

Install hanging magazine holders on the wall to organize mail and other documents quickly and efficiently. Choose wire files to help keep things visible and fresh in your mind. Label the hanging files so you know where each type of document should go.

08 of 22

Rolled Up

Wire baskets filled with colored papers
Jay Wilde

Need an accessible storage option for craft paper and supplies? Install wall organizers to collect crafting materials in a way that's both simple and organized. For large sheets of craft paper, roll them up (printed side out) and secure with paper clips so you can quickly view the colors or patterns you have on hand. Wire baskets make it easy for you to see where supplies are stored, while labels make putting them away quick and easy.

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Convenient Cubbies

desk

Cubbies built into a desk or cabinet can be just the right size for storing loose papers and other office essentials. Assign each family member a cubby and add file sorters for corralling their documents. Organizing paperwork by each person is a great way to stay on top of your mail and keep track of kids' papers.

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Eye-Catching Display

Desk with wall hanging organizer
Kim Cornelison

Organize photos, invitations, and memos in plain sight with an attractive wall hanging. Choose an organizer with a customizable design that allows you to change up the arrangement to meet your storage needs. This stylish solution functions as wall decor while keeping everything on hand for when you need it.

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Space-Saving Solution

Board filled with important documents
Laura Moss

Sync your family's busy schedules with a communication center in a central location, like the home office, kitchen, or entryway. Many wall-mount organizers, such as bulletin boards and wire file holders, utilize vertical space, leaving drawers and desk surfaces for other uses. Use labels to designate areas for each family member or sort paperwork by activity. Leave room on the bulletin board to hang cards and artwork or post messages.

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Handy Reading Material

Gray shelf with wire organizer
Anthony Masterson

Stashing magazines in filing cabinets can lead to a backlog of forgotten issues. Instead, keep reading material within reach with an attractive basket or bin that complements your decor. Remember to purge old or untouched items regularly to avoid a paper pileup.

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Expense Tracker

Metal basket with separate filing shelves
Jay Wilde

A well-ordered letter tray makes it easy to manage your budget and keep important documents on hand. Choose one with several stacked sections so you can organize bills, receipts, mail, and other statements while taking up little desk space. Label each tray so you can quickly sort information.

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Custom Clutter Control

Wall filing with glasses and papers
Greg Scheidemann

Create a family command center to help corral paper clutter. A modular wall organizer like this one keeps papers on hand and off the desk. Use each compartment to organize by family member or category items, such as bills, schoolwork, and notepads. Add metal hooks nearby for holding keys and other grab-and-go items.

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Message Center

Organized desk with items on wall
Adam Albright

Keep clutter at bay with a multipurpose workstation. This communication hub is built from a patchwork of magnet, dry-erase, chalkboard, cork, and pegboard squares behind the built-in desktop. The combination of materials ensures that messages and papers can be stored in versatile ways. Use magnetic boards to hold papers you need only temporarily, dry-erase boards and chalkboards to jot down quick messages, cork boards to stick more permanent papers on (favorite take-out menus, emergency phone numbers), and pegboard squares to mount containers for desk supplies.

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Smart System

Container with file folders and writing utensils
Jay Wilde

When deciding how to organize paperwork, create a personal filing system that works for you (even if it's a bit outside the box). Although intended for dishes, this drying rack works great for storing file folders and notebooks. Use the slotted compartment designed for sponges to stash small office supplies like pens, pencils, and notepads.

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Tray Dividers

Drawer with metal trays filled with items
Bill Holt

Divvy up storage space to prevent loose papers from overwhelming desk drawers. Quarter-sheet baking pans make great clutter-catchers in shallow drawers. Designate a tray for each need, such as organizing bills, stashing mail supplies, or corralling extra office essentials. This will help keep your desk surface clear of messes.

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Hanging Clipboards

Four clipboards with blackboard paint on wall
Mark S Peterson

Fashion a vertical paper organizing station by hanging a group of clipboards on the wall. Add labels to designate a function for each clipboard, such as a spot to post invitations for upcoming events or stash bills yet to be paid. Cover each clipboard with chalkboard paint before hanging to create a surface to jot down messages and to-dos.

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Kids' Organization

Red desk with organized items
Laura Moss

Keep homework and school papers organized with a simple filing system. Standing files with tabbed dividers sort documents by subject or activity, making it easy to separate classes from extracurriculars. Add other desktop organizers in various sizes to keep frequently used supplies like pencils, scissors, and paper clips within easy reach.

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Organize On-the-Go

File folder containers filled with receipts
Greg Scheidemann

Fill an index card case with coupons and receipts to create a portable organizer. Use alphabetized divider tabs for sorting so you never have to search for a receipt again. The mini file folder is easy to stow in a purse—just be sure to stash it where you'll remember to grab it before running errands.

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Sort and Separate

White basket on wall filled with documents
Cameron Sadeghpour

Designate a spot for incoming mail, so it doesn't end up in a jumbled pile on the countertop. Mount an organizer, such as a wall file pocket, in an accessible location near the entryway. Make sure your mail organizer is large enough to accommodate bigger items, such as magazines or catalogs.

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Savvy Shelving

Metal hanging organizer with papers and other items
Greg Scheidemann

Take advantage of unused wall space to contain clutter. This hanging organizer, which was repurposed from a metal poultry feeder, is mounted on iron shelf brackets and uses magnetic strips to keep contents in place. The different sections along the top help sort mail, cards, and receipts. Simplify organization with magnetic labels, and fill mini canisters with small supplies like rubber bands and paper clips.

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