How to Clean out Your Desk

Dear FlyLady,

I bought the office in a bag. It is great to keep bills together. My question is, what do you do with the paperwork from the bills you pay to keep office in bag cleaned out and ready for a new month. I really don’t know what to keep and what to save.

FlyBaby G.

Dear FlyBaby G.

When I had my first office in a bag in the 80’s; I kept a folder in the back of my bag that kept just the receipt of the bill and I marked it paid. I would paper clip like bills together. I could keep a whole year in this simple folder: phone bills, electric bills, credit card bills, mortgage statements, car payments, bank statements, and the payroll check stubs. They didn’t take up a whole lot of room but if you don’t feel like you have the room to keep them all then try this.

None of us like filing. It seems like a waste of time. Besides when are you ever going to need that receipt anyway. Well if they don’t receive your payment you may need to stop payment on a check. Most of us don’t use checks any longer. We use our phones and computers to make payments. Many of us don’t even get bills either. They are all online. Our piles of paper have been reduced by our digital lifestyle.

There are still those who feel the need to save everything. Here is my suggestion to you:

Clean out a whole drawer in your desk to make room for this year’s receipts. Most of what is in this drawer is old. You are going to use the same system we used to clean off the top of your desk.

You will need a big trash can, garbage bag, a big box, a few file folders or file pockets, Sharpies, and a timer. Here is a great webpage to read before you get started. Dave Ramsey is a great person and describes what to keep well.

  1. Set your timer for 15 minutes
  2. Put the garbage bag in the trash can.
  3. Empty the drawer into the box. ONLY ONE DRAWER!
  4. Label the file folders, 2017 receipts and Important Papers
  5. Follow Dave Ramsey’s Labels.
  6. Grab 6 inches of papers and start sorting the pile. Throw away trash.
  7. Take a break after 15 minutes and then jump in again.
  8. What to keep, Insurance policies, birth certificates, etc.
  9. Not every piece of paper is important; most is trash!
  10. Empty trash can; burn in your fire pit or shred.
  11. Now you have one empty drawer.
  12. Place the file folders in the drawer.
  13. Tomorrow you can tackle another drawer.

If you have a home based business you will need to keep receipts for purchases and expenses in a banker’s box labeled for that year. At the office we save 7 years of records.

When you get rid of the clutter you are going to have more room to keep what is important. Plus you are going to be able to find what you are looking for when you need it!


redofficeinabag1Our Office in a Bag comes in 4 colors. The Red one is great for your Holiday Control Journal and an emergency Control Journal.  I hide mine with my cookbooks. No one will ever look there.


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