ss fpp 2 header

Day Five: Establish a System

Goal: To establish what type of Organization System and Process you will have for this area


Today, you will learn about three types of Organization Systems (I know that I said FOUR types in the video, but I have streamlined it even further.). You will also learn how to map out your Process and choose the appropriate System, based on that Process.

By now, you may have already honed in on exactly what type of Organization System you want for this area.

Or you may be feeling clueless about what Systems could work for you.

Either way, today's step may require a trip to the office supply or organization store.

I highly recommend perusing the sites, listed below, to gather ideas before embarking on an in-person shopping trip, otherwise you may feel overwhelmed.

There are some key ingredients to an effective overall paper process:


  • A System to hold papers that require action
  • A System to hold papers that require easy reference, on-going filing,  and/or “end of year gathering” (such as info for taxes)
  • A System to hold archived papers


Notice that this correlates to your Sorting Categories. You will likely require multiples of the above Systems throughout your home, depending on your paper needs. Or your specific area may not require all the above components; so it’s good to have your overall needs in mind when you select the Systems for your designated area.


Remember, that these three categories are your SYSTEM categories; you will then have the sub-categories, that you already designated, of your different kinds of papers (the broad categories), within these three types of systems, as well.


For example, I have an Archive System for papers relating to my old storefront. That System is a file box. Then, within that System, I have my broad categories of marketing, legal, accounting, etc. Each of those categories of paperwork are kept in a labeled file folder within the file box.


Here's a handy way of thinking about these systems:



Download your own copy



Mapping Out Your Process


If it is not already clear, from earlier, to determine what papers go into which type of system, consider your broad categories and reflect on the entire Process that these types of papers currently go through from point A to their final destination.

For example:

  • I receive a bill in the mail

  • I set it aside because I pay all my bills once a month

  • I pay the bill and I set aside the statement in another pile with the intent to file it

  • I end up not filing it, but then later, when I do my taxes, I have to find it again, because I need to keep the statements for tax purposes

  • I find it (and others) and put them with my taxes for that year


So, in this example, the piece of paper has one action point: paying the bill. If the only need for keeping the bill beyond that is for taxes, imagine how much easier it would be if that piece of paper "just landed" in a file folder that was accessed at tax time. And then the tax file folder, in its entirety, was filed in a box for taxes, once you completed your taxes for the year. Again, this is just one example.


This example shows how interconnected our paper and our Systems are, so it’s important to think through your paper Process, in its entirety, when creating a System.

While that may seem difficult at first, ask yourself these questions to identify your unique Process:

  • Why am I keeping this? What is the intent of keeping these kinds of papers?
  • Does this type of paper require action?
  • What is the first action it requires?
  • Does it require further action? If so, what?
  • If not, does it require further reference?
  • Does it need to be easily accessible?
  • Can it be archived?

These questions are not all inclusive, but they are intended to help you think through the entire flow of your paperwork. And by answering them, you will establish which types of Systems are needed for your area: action, reference, longer term access, long term storage (archive).

fpp day five graphic

Once you determine what type of accessibility you need, you can choose an appropriate Organization or Storage System.

Papers that require action do well in something very open and accessible (like a paper tray or mail sorter).

Shorter term reference and longer term access paperwork work well with file drawers, cabinets, boxes.

Archived storage works well in file boxes that can be easily stacked.

These are just examples. Your systems can be as basic or as complex as you desire, as long as they work for you.

If you already had a previous system in place that has not worked, be very honest with yourself about why. Was it too confusing or did you not take the needed time to make the system work? Is it just a space issue?
System Examples

Many of these websites have very detailed, pretty systems in place. That is not necessary for a productive system. I, for example, use basic plain file folders and label them by hand. So, do what works for you!

Example 1
Example 2
Example 3
Example 4

System Products

Example 1
Example 2
Example 3
Example 4
Example 5

These above sites are to give examples of products. I am not endorsing the actual brands or stores.



Copyright © 2015. Susan Shehata. All Rights Reserved.