How to organise paperwork at home

We all know paperwork can mount up quickly, and it can often feel overwhelming. Even if you’re on top of things, files can still take up a lot of space, especially if you run your own business from home or in a small office room.

If you’re guilty of stacks of paper or overflowing box files cluttering up your home, a well-organised filing system could help save you some space, and make sure everything you need is in easy reach. Our experts are here to help you learn how to organise your paperwork at home, for good. For more secure storage solutions, you may want to consider long term storage to keep your files safe and sound.

How to organise paperwork at home

What kind of paperwork do you need to keep safe?

There’s no point in storing your weekly shop receipts, but legal paperwork or bigger purchases that come with a longer warranty should be stored securely, just in case you need them. The documents you do need to keep safe include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Employment contracts
  • P45s
  • Your vehicle’s V5C
  • Passports and ID cards
  • Marriage licenses
  • Death certificates
  • Insurance documents
  • Wills, living wills and power of attorney
  • House deeds
  • Mortgage documents
  • Vehicle and finance documents

How should I organise my paperwork at home?

1. Securely discard the documents you don’t need

If there’s any documentation you no longer need, make sure that you discard of it securely. Your business or personal information may be more liable to a data breach or identity theft if it isn’t correctly disposed of.

Before throwing away any paper waste, check to see if it contains any personal or sensitive data. If so, it will need to be shredded, or scrubbed of personal details before you recycle it. If you have access to a confidential waste bin, even better.

2. Organise your storage space itself

Whether you store your paperwork in a spare room, attic or under your bed, a tidy space will make organising your documents much easier and give you some valuable space back.

Swap stacked cardboard boxes for upright file holders, or a lockable filing cabinet if you have the space. As well as letting you find your documents much more easily, this kind of document storage can hold a lot more, so you can neatly tuck your paperwork away, without it taking up more space.

3. Get labelling

Mounds of paperwork and documentation can often feel overwhelming, so you may want to consider labelling them. Labelling documents and important information is a great way to organise your space effectively, and makes picking out the piece of paperwork you need much easier.

4. Separate your files and folders by type

Another way to make your paperwork more manageable is to separate your documents by type. Keeping household bills and contracts in one folder, mortgage deeds in another and any vehicle documents separated means that you’re less likely to lose anything important.

A simple, alphabetical filing system will always be the easiest to set up and negotiate, particularly if you’re storing business information in your home office. For personal finances or business tax records, a chronological system to order your files by month is also a great way to stay organised.

5. Go paperless with as many files as you can

If you’re still tight on space, you may want to see if any of your important documents can go paperless. As well as helping you cut down on your carbon footprint, secure electronic documents help you combat piles of unused paperwork, too. Check with your insurance provider and employer to see if you can make the swap.


What’s the 5-second rule for decluttering?

If you find your paperwork is beginning to pile up, you may want to implement the 5-second rule for decluttering. This simply means that if you can’t remember when you last used that specific item in the space of 5 seconds, then it may be time to get rid of it.

How long do you need to keep paperwork after someone dies?

As a general rule of thumb, you should keep important documents for up to 7 years after your loved one dies. This is dependent on the kind of paperwork you have, but if it has anything to do with the person’s estate, the HMRC can ask to see any records up to 20 years after Inheritance Tax is paid. If you’re unsure if a document will be useful in the future, it’s best to hold on to it.

Storing your paperwork properly will help make life a little easier, especially when you need to find important documents in a rush. Our handy guide to storing your confidential documents ensures a fuss-free way to keep on top of any unnecessary clutter in your home. If you’re looking to declutter other areas of your home, here’s five ways to refresh your home in just one weekend.