In this video I show you how I organize my office files in the filing cabinet, books, and binders in my home office! This is part 1 of a 9-part home office organization series. You can watch the rest of the videos in the series below. Thanks for watching and Happy Organizing 🙂

How To Organize Your Office Files

Part 2 (How to Organize Your Desk)

Part 3 (How to Organize Your Desk Drawers)

Part 4 (How to Organize Your Mail)

Part 5 (How to Organize Your Office Closet)

Part 6 (How to Hide Wires & Cables)

Part 7 (How to Store Gift Wrap)

Part 8 (How to Organize Small Things)

Part 9 (How to Organize Batteries)

View all our Home Office Organizing & Paper Management videos

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How to Organize Papers in The Filing Cabinet

In this video, I’m going to show you how to organize documents in the filing cabinet.

How to Organize Office Papers

So one of the biggest problems I see with organizing your files in the filing cabinet is the filing cabinet is so jam-packed with so many papers, papers are just hanging out, you can’t find anything because you haven’t purged your filing cabinet in such a long time, and your labels are no longer accurate. So, I’m going to show you how I’ve avoided that problem and how my filing cabinet is super organized, things are easy to find, and I have exactly what I need and nothing more.

Organizing Office Files

Organizing Office Files

So, this is my whole filing cabinet. There is a shelf and then there is the filing cabinet. So let me just quickly show you what’s on top here and then we’ll get to the filing cabinet.

So up here, I have my printer. So my printer is away from my desk because I feel like there is no good place to put the printer on the desk. So, what I’ve done here is the printer is plugged in but the actual cord, the USB cable that connects to the computer, hangs out up here in this little cord organizer right here. So it’s out of the way. So whenever I need to print, I just come here and I literally just grab the cord and I plug it in and I just print, it’s so easy. So that just hangs out up here. I’m just going to put that back.

Then I have two pictures of Mojo, Ed, and me, to personalize my office a bit and just make it me since I spend so much time here.

All right. So the books up here, so one of the questions I get is, “Why do you color code your books?” So honestly, it looks beautiful in my opinion. It’s not very functional. In fact, it’s not functional at all unless you know the color of the spine of the book you need which most people don’t. But it just looks nice. And I’m not really accessing my books that often so it’s not really a big deal if it’s not very functional.

Organizing Important Papers in Binders

So the binder is down here. So I love these binders. These are the better binders from Staples. They come in all colors and all different types and sizes and stuff. I’m actually going to do a better binder video coming up soon.

How to Organizer Office Papers in Binders

How to Organizer Office Papers in Binders

What I do here is I try and color code the binder with the category. So for example, the Christmas binder is green because Christmas is red and green. And then the recipe binder is yellow because I think of yellow when I think of the kitchen. But some of the other ones are not color coded by category because I reuse the binders over and over and it’s hard to maintain that way. So yeah, the binders are there.

How to Organize The File Cabinet

Moving down to the filing cabinet. And actually, let me say one more thing before we move on. One of the questions I get is what’s the difference between putting your papers in binders versus putting the papers in the filing cabinet? And really, to me, I feel like it’s a personal preference. I put my frequently accessed papers in binders because I feel like it’s easier to grab a binder and find a piece of paper as opposed to reach into the filing cabinet find a file and grab a piece of paper.

So, documents that are accessed more frequently go in binders, and less frequently accessed papers go in the filing cabinet.

And then also, I kind of break it up into personal and business. So, all my binders are mostly business-related papers. And then the whole filing cabinet is all personal-related papers.

So let me show you exactly what my filing cabinet looks like. OK. So this is my filing cabinet. So everything is labeled files, files, files, files because it’s all files. All right. So, this is it. I’m so excited to share this because I just feel like it looks so beautiful and all the colors pop and everything is just so organized.

So, let me just quickly run through and show you what I do here. So first off, I use all letter-size folders instead of the legal size. For me, I have a few documents that are legal-sized documents but I don’t want to set up a whole legal system and waste space if the majority of the papers are letter. So I just don’t keep legal papers in here. They are kept somewhere else.

Color Coding File Folders

How to Color Code Hanging File Folders

How to Color Code Hanging File Folders

So let me just go through and tell you what all these colors mean. So red is all of my permanent files. So it’s things that I’m never going to throw away in my entire life – never touch, never throw this out.

And then orange is things that are temporary. So there are papers that are coming in and then there are going out and being replaced with more updated papers. Like your health insurance policy, every year you get a new policy or you get an updated policy. You take the old one out and put the new one in. That’s orange.

Green over here is all of my financial-related papers. So anything related to money goes in green.

And then light blue is for tax documents you collect throughout the year and then give to your accountant or use when you’re filing your own taxes.

Purple – in purple I just keep all these labels which come in a sheet. And you just pick whatever label you are looking for. So, I just keep all the extra labels right here in the filing cabinet. So when I do need to out a folder, the maintenance of creating that folder is super easy. All things you need are right here. It’s not like you’re running somewhere else to add a folder because when you do that, it doesn’t necessarily get done. And then you get behind. So everything is right here.

All right. And then brown – back here are all of Ed’s real estate papers. We recently combined our filing cabinets, so he has the whole brown section for all his real estate documents.

OK. And then I’ve used white hanging file folders to make the colors on the file tabs pop a little bit more. What I used to do is, I used to color code the folders also. So, for example, the red section would have red hanging file folders. So this is a hanging file folder. This would all be red. But I made a mistake of doing that and realized that the maintenance was very difficult with that system, so I changed them all to white to make it easier.

So my biggest lesson learned is don’t color code your folders, only color code the tabs and it’s a lot easier that way.

Then what I do is take a white binder clip to clip the whole folder together for some of the folders that are thicker with a lot of papers, because it contains the papers more when they’re clipped together.

Now, another question I get a lot of times is what is the difference between an interior file folder and a hanging file folder? So, this is an interior file folder and this is a hanging file folder. Now, what a lot of people do is they put these interior file folders inside the hanging file folder and you have this sitting in your filing cabinet.

Now, there is nothing wrong with that. There’s not really a right way to file. I don’t do that because I don’t like these tabs sticking out because I feel like it covers the other tabs in the filing cabinet. And then I also feel like when there are so many folders inside, if so many papers inside, the folder gets too full and it’s too jammed and papers don’t fit nicely inside. So I don’t do that but it doesn’t mean you don’t have to do that. You can do that.

Instead, I just don’t use these at all in my filing cabinet. And then I just create separate hanging file folders for each category. So for example, like health records, this is my health record folder. And then this is Ed’s health record folder. So it’s two separate folders just like that. And then I just put my initials and his initials right there so I know whose folder is whose.

Maximizing Space in Your Filing Cabinet

Now, when I was setting this up, I realized that I have space on the sides right here. So I thought, “OK, maybe I’ll just put things that I need to create other folders when it’s time for maintenance.”

Maximize File Cabinet Storage Space with Extra Bins

So, I found these nice bins that just fit so beautifully in the side of the cabinet. And this is where I have all of my extra tabs for the file folders. I have a lot of extra ones because when I was going to people’s homes and helping them organize their filing cabinet I always had supplies on hand. So this just hangs out on the side right here and just fits so perfectly. And then this one over here is the same thing. I have more labels and then I have a bag of the binder clips just like that for clipping the folders together.

OK. So, as you can see, everything is organized, it’s color-coded in my filing system. You can find what you’re looking for very fast. And nothing else is in the way. And so the last tip for you is to go through and periodically purge your filing cabinet. Go through the folders, pull out things you don’t need anymore, shred them, archive them if you do need them but go through it and make sure you’re only keeping things that you really need to keep.

So, is there something that I didn’t share that you do in your filing cabinet that’s really helpful for keeping it tidy and organized? If so, leave a comment below. Or if this is your first time watching my organizing videos, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel or check out my website, for more tips on getting organized.

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you soon!

About Alejandra

About Alejandra

Since 2008, organizing expert & certified life coach, Alejandra Costello has taught thousands of students in 132 countries how to get organized through her video-based training programs. Her YouTube videos have been viewed 100+ million times. Named 1 of the 5 most organized people in America by HGTV and “The Decluttering Queen” by Good Morning America, Alejandra’s expertise has been featured in The New York Times,, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Parents Magazine, and CBS. 


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