Home filling system

Having a home filling systems is one of the great investments you can make in terms of getting and staying organized. It will help you, your family and most likely your finances a lot now and in the future. 

Having said this, it is however, not one of the things which I recommend you start with, when you are new to organizing. Paperwork tends to be very dense, making it appear that you are not achieving as much as you really are.


I can pretty much guarantee that once you have dealt with the mountains of papers, your life will never be the same, even if occasionally you fall behind.

Home filling system –folders or files?

Firstly, you’ll need to figure out the tools you will need. Do you need folders or files? 

Think about if you are, what Glenda Sladen calls a "chucker" or a "tucker". I love this concept, it relates to whether your style of organizing; is quick throw it in a file (chucker) or if you don’t mind tucking things nicely in folders (tucker).

Files for the "Chucker"

Folders for the "Tucker"

Being aware of this means you can set up a system which consists out of open files or whether you can use folders. There is no right or wrong, but whatever you do – do not mix two organizing systems! 

Don’t have a combination of folders and files as this will do even the most organized persons’ head in. 

Overall, keep the set up simple and expand based on your needs.

What most home filling systems require

Our lives and needs are very different and this should be reflected in your home filling system. Having said this, there are a number of categories which are the same for pretty much every house hold these are:

  • Health
  • Work
  • Important documents (like; birth and marriage certificates)
  • Finance (although most of this is online these days)

Clearly we have more and more documents in electronic format these days and why not? It is easy, we often need to send these documents through electronically and it is great to have a backup. 

However, last time I checked we still did not live in the paperless society, meaning that; birth, marriage and divorce certificates still came paper based - as do, passports, any official qualifications and health records. These documents need to be kept together in a save reliable space, I suggest this space to be your home filling system. 

This page will talk about some of the basics in terms of set up and storage, the page; organizing personal information goes a little deeper into the intricacies of this topic.

Home filling system - How to store everything?

If you follow the rough categories as mentioned above, you will need to start what I refer to as “Mother files” and “Child files” (this concept is also explained on the page organizing paperwork). 

For example; you have a mother file called Health, within this you simple put your health records from the past towards the present. With the past to the back and your most recent files to the front, making the file automatically organize itself chronologically. 

If you have more than one family member you simply get some manila folders with each family members name on it, this becomes a “Child” category of the main Health File. You then still store all related health records chronologically. The added benefit of this, is that when you go to the doctor for example your eldest child, you only need to pick up their folder. In an instant you have any related files, (plus some) in one simple to carry package.

Home filling system – small receipts

Receipts are sometimes pesky little things, they fade, crumble and I would say that 90% of the receipts we have in our homes, we don’t need to keep. However, if you do want to (need to) keep some of the receipts, it might be good practice to scan receipts and save them in your finance folder on the computer.

If you decide to keep receipts in a physical format they can be easily kept in envelopes.

The picture to the right, shows a very simple system I use for some of my receipts say recent purchases for shoes, clothing or bags. I might need to return these so they go in my receipt envelope. This makes it easy to find and claim my purchase back if the item is faulty.

Another thing which works for say a small health docket which might get lost in the health file is use a plastic envelope.

This then creates in essence a “Baby” category with the “Mother” category being Health, the “Child” category being me (my health file) and the “Baby” file is my receipt which I need to keep.

Home filling system – bulky items

At this point in time, you might be going along nicely with filing your papers, but then we end up with those bulky items. Even in the most basic home filing system, you will have bulky items e.g. the finance stuff of your car, the purchase of your house or rental agreement (- with additional keys). How can you store all of this stuff?

Folders and files are not high capacity storage solutions they deal with a small to medium selection of relevant documentation mainly A4 papers. 

As soon as it becomes too much or too bulky you will need to consider the following:

Can I remove some non-essential papers? 

One thing to remember is that although a piece of paper might have been incredibly important at one point in time, a lot of records lose their relevance very quickly. For example, several months after you had an operation, you recovered and are now fully healed (plus claimed all there is to claim from your insurance), it is a sign, that a lot of these documents can go.

Should I store this in a sturdier file?

I use these plastic A4 boxes in thin and tick format. These plastic files I keep close to my desk and filling system. Overall this set up means I can deal with any document that comes across my desk.

Note: These plastic A4 storage boxes are easy to come by as I buy them locally, from my national stationary shop. This makes sure, I won’t end up with a selection of different files, colors and shapes (which on top of significant volumes of paperwork adds to the mental clutter).

Keep your plastic file folders the same, for a sense of peace and calm amidst even the bulkiest (ugliest) piles of paperwork.  

Home filling system – final thoughts

Getting to the end of this page you might feel one of two things: ready to learn more and continue to refine your paper based set up and do more organizing.  Alternatively, you might feel utterly overwhelmed. 

Depending on how you feel, I recommend the following:

  • If you are confident about your paper based systems, it is time to focus on your electronic files by organizing your computer files, your desktop, passwords, your outlook contacts and your finances. 
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed start with simpler organizing projects like your kitchen or a bedroom to build momentum and confidence. If you need to get papers sorted and fairly soon, I would encourage you to find a professional organizer in your area. We love doing this type of work, are good at it and the investment will pay dividends on multiple levels now and in the future.

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