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A great system for finally getting control of your paper piles

Our New System for Mail & Family Documents

Need a tried-and-true plan for managing all that paperwork that comes in and out of your house, as well as docs you need to keep on hand?  This pretty little box came from Target and has made it’s home on our entry table for the last few months.

It’s done wonders in eliminating unsightly paper piles around our abode.  Let’s take a peak under the hood, shall we? 


The reason I prefer the box system for this purpose is two-fold:

  1. It keeps everything organized and accesible but still out-of-sight.
  2. It allows space for the kind of odd-sized papers that often accompany living with todders.

On the top are six folders, here’s the breakdown of what’s currently in them:

  • To-Do Now: bills, school paper work that’s due, etc. – I try to check this one nightly
  • To-Do Soon: preschool book order and an invitation I need to RSVP too
  • School Docs: class rosters, contact info. and schedules
  • Coupons/ Gift Cards: this one’s pretty self-evident – I also keep receipts here
  • To Save: this is also mostly full of kid art – once it’s full I make the hard choices about what to keep
  • House Docs: this is my favorite file.  It has this info. sheet for babysitters, this monthly schedule, and this weekly menu planner (all laminated to be used over and over).


It’s as simple as that.  Tell me, how do you organize your paper piles?

P.S.  Here’s one more really fun idea for incoming mail from our Getting Organized pinterest board.

This post is part of MPMK’s “Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life”. You can read all about it here, check out all of our projects here, and join thousands of POYEL facebook group members here.



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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole January 7, 2013 at 8:32 am

I really like this system! The box seems just big enough to hold everything without it getting too out of control! Thanks for the ideas!!!


Laura January 7, 2013 at 8:39 am

I’m single with no kids so my paper piles are a bit different. But I keep a beautiful trash can right beside my front door and every day, when I bring in the mail, I toss all the junk, 99% of the catalogs, etc. right in the trash, keeping only the items that are needed. It’s a wonderful habit.


Wendy January 7, 2013 at 9:29 am

This is exactly what we need…..did you just buy a box and then make the dividers? Or can you put a link to the box from Target, I can’t find it online…


mpmk January 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Hi Wendy,

I bought the box in-store at Target a few months ago – I don’t believe it’s available online. The folders I picked up at Office Max and added some washi tape to the tabs so I could change them later if I wanted (stole that idea from Jen at I Heart Organizing).

Hope that helps!



Moira January 7, 2013 at 10:09 am

I love that you found a place to store all that art coming home!! Right now we have a big box in the laundry room waiting for me to decide what should be kept and what needs to be thrown away, but it’s so big that I don’t even want to start. Something smaller would make me keep on top of it!


Valerie January 7, 2013 at 7:29 pm

That is a nice system. I keep most of the same folders you do, except my To Do is not split up like yours (nice idea), my kids artwork mostly all goes onto a giant bulletin board right away, and coupons go straight into a coupon organizer in my purse so that I don’t forget to take it with me when I leave the house. I also maintain our schedule on Outlook and do not currently have a meal planner, but was about to start doing that instead of buying too many groceries and rummaging through the fridge at each meal to throw something together. Thanks for posting this, it gives me some motivating to change.


Jess @ Spool and Spoon January 7, 2013 at 8:02 pm

I’m so glad you were able to utilize my Notes for the Babysitter printable. This organization system is absolutely genius because it not only organizes, but it stashes things as well! Love it.


katepickle January 8, 2013 at 6:42 am

I’m working on a box system similar to this… I need to do something to keep on top of all the kid paper work I know I am going to have this year with three kids in school….
Glad my month grid is helpful… I just created a printable calendar for 2013 too as I got tired of having to write in the dates each month! LOL


Teri January 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Would LOVE to know what the measurements are of the box. What a great idea!!


Jessica January 9, 2013 at 1:44 am

Sounds like such a great idea. We used to use a basket but a box is great so you can hide it away :)


Teri January 9, 2013 at 10:42 am

Hi there! I love the box idea. Could you share the measurements of the box? I can tell its atleast big enough to hold file folders, but wondering how much larger it is so that you can fit in the artwork.

Thanks so much!


Marika January 9, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I love this idea and wanted to try it out right away! The box I found that’s as close as the one you have is the Semikolon Document Box. I think they have them at the container store as well as selling them on Amazon. If you search for “art box” or “project box” you might find other good possibilities. But I couldn’t wait that long, so I decided to divide your system into two things I could find right away at the Staples across the street: one big magazine file box for all of our files. And then a large-ish size leather CD storage box I found to corral all of the random wires, cords, keys etc. that end up cluttering the inbox we currently have, which is supposed to be for papers. :)

The new filing system we’ll start tomorrow is:
Hubby’s Mail (I’m always leaving it out for him and it’s usually out in a big pile)
To Do (bills, etc.)
For Later
Shopping (Coupons/gift cards/receipts)
To File
Baby E. (no school papers yet, but a good place to keep current schedule, emergency info, and doctors visit stuff)

Can’t wait until the hubs returns from his business trip on Friday and finds (gasp!) NO teetering, overflowing, mish-mosh inbox!!!


mpmk January 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Hi guys,

I know a lot of you have been asking about the size of the box. I haven’t gotten a chance to break out a ruler and measure but it’s just big enough to fit the files without any squishing.

Hope that helps,


Lisa January 11, 2013 at 1:15 pm

a good idea for kids artwork is to take a picture of it (I save the very special ones) and then upload those pics to Shutterfly and create your own personalized art book.


kayo January 17, 2013 at 4:14 pm

How do you attach the folders in the box? I can’t tell if yours are attached to the lid, but that is how I want mine. :-)


mpmk January 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm


My files aren’t attached, they are just placed in the box. Hope that helps.



Angela February 8, 2013 at 7:58 pm

I just found your site…and I am working on the streamlining process in our home right now. Thank you for sharing your tips. Here is one I can pass along. My husband had a grand idea for how to “keep” all that precious artwork that multiplies so quickly from our little ones. He suggested that we take pictures of the projects so that we can keep them digitally instead of the hard copies. I think it is a great idea! We do keep a few of the actual works of art, but it makes throwing the bulk of the items away much easier.


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