Organization in January

The start of every year brings about a desire—maybe even a need—to organize a few things.  I always start with the same three things: planner organization and updating, sorting through the list of blogs that I read, and purging old files and setting up new ones for the new year.

Each January I start my year with setting up my planner for the new year, archiving old inserts, and doing a general sort-through of all of my planner gear.  This year I went a little further and revamped my entire system, which meant revamping my entire collection—this is a procedure of “no binder left behind,” a purpose for every binder.  This setup/revamp can happen in a day, or it can take me a few days, depending on how much I need to change up.  Sometimes it doesn’t happen until after January since I typically don’t archive inserts until a month later.  I guess it all depends on how big of an itch it is to reorganize everything.

The second thing I do is sort through the list of blogs I subscribe to.  The number of planner and Philofaxy-related blogs grows so quickly; every day a new one (to me) pops up.  I like to add these to my feed reader.  (You can read how I use Philofaxy’s Web Finds as an organizational tool here.  Since the demise of Google Reader, this has changed somewhat—though for the most part, the process is the same—so perhaps an update is needed.)

To keep track of all of the blogs I read—Philofaxy-related or otherwise—I use Feedly.  I don’t like it as much as I liked Google Reader, but it serves my purpose.  I have looked into several other options, but this was the best I found that allows me to do what I need it to do—provide a browser-friendly interface, as well as an app for both iPad and iPhone, one that allows me to read blogs in landscape mode, since that’s my orientation of choice.  Other benefits are marking blogs as saved-for-later, allowing an email option, and integrating Pocket for an added save-for-later option.  (I use Feedly’s save-for-later option to read certain things as soon as possible; Pocket’s save-for-later feature to read articles at some point in the near future, which includes off-line accessibility; and the email option for anything that has an action attached to it, like a video to watch or links to research, etc.  Yeah, an update on my process is definitely needed.)

So, how do I sort through my list of 399 blogs?  First, I print out my index page.

Once I have the printout, I go blog by blog, clicking on the links to see which blogs are still active, which ones haven’t been updated in over a year (these will be removed), and which ones are no longer accessible (these obviously will also be removed).  When I have checked a blog, I will cross it off the print out, and continue on.

This process starts on New Years Day and continues, when I have time, until it’s finished.  It’s true that only new posts will appear in my “to check” list in Feedly, which means that I don’t necessarily have to see the name of a blog that is never updated.  But, to me, having blogs in my list that are no longer active is digital clutter, and like physical clutter, I like to clear these things out.  Plus, it gives me an opportunity to visit each blog’s page, rather than reading most of them through the reader—it’s nice to see the design personality behind each blog.

Finally, I sort through all of our files.  I purge anything we no longer need, archive the last year’s papers, and set up for the upcoming year. 

A year or two ago, I really revamped our files to make it as easy as possible.  As seen below, there’s a file for each company/service; within those files, all papers from one year are clipped together and labeled with a flag with the year written on it; anything from the current year gets tucked behind all previous years, unclipped for easy access.

This year, I decided to color code our files according to purpose:
  • Yellow – my reference papers
  • Fluorescent green – my financial papers
  • Hot pink – my medical files
  • Orange – my work-related files
  • Purple – miscellaneous items
  • Green – household financials
  • Blue – miscellaneous household items

My husband’s items are kept in red files with red tags, his choice from a few years ago, so I didn’t update those at all.

Here are some before pictures:

Now, to color code, I could have bought different colored file folders, but we already had a ton of the generic green folders, and I didn’t want to waste them.  So I used Post-it page markers to achieve my color coding system.

Originally, I had made labels for each file and stuck them directly onto the folder tab.

I removed that and threw it out.  I created a new clear label for each file with my Brother P-Touch label maker.

I stuck the label onto the specific colored Post-it page marker.

I then stuck the page marker onto the thick file folder tag.

I popped the whole thing into the file folder clear tab.

After putting the entire tab into the slots of the file folder, I had a finished product.

The reason for using the colored page markers rather than different colored folders is for easy change.  First, I didn’t need to buy several different boxes of file folders; I was able to use what I already had, thus saving money and storage space.  Plus, if I ever want to change up the color coding system or a label for a particular file, I can easily do that without having to throw out the folder’s plastic or paper piece.  (You can buy packages of just these pieces for a reasonable price, but it’s one less thing I have to purchase.  I always have the Post-its on hand anyway.)

Here are my finished file folders:

I am now all set up for 2014.  On to other organizing projects!

* Note: I am in no way affiliated with the companies mentioned above.  I am merely a satisfied customer.  All opinions are my own.


  1. You know... I think the colored labels are actually easier to distinguish than colored folders. It looks very organized and very pretty! I think Post-its might need to start paying you fees for your recommendations!!

    1. Lol, if only they would pay me, I just LOVE them. Of course, I'd take Post-its as payments. ;)

  2. Deliciously organized! Color coding helps a lot, at least aesthetically. I'm not the kind of girl who color-codes the diary pages of my planner -- I can't concentrate on the tasks or events because they look too pretty haha (my Mom says I've always been too serious for girly stuff... and she's 99.99% right haha) but in tabs? Looks peaceful to the OCD eye...

    I have a bunch of folders like this and a metal box for filing and stuff. I used to use it to file my College notes... that was in freshmen, soon I realized it was materially impossible. So it's collecting dust since then. I wasn't sure what to do with it... now I think maybe I should set it up for personal documents. Hmm.

    By the way, I love your system for purging blogs. I'm starting my very personal all-pervasive spring cleaning process this week, in which I'll try to clean/clear/declutter every single aspect of my life, online and on paper. Everything. It'll be interesting, ha!

    Just curious, how do you tackle decluttering your space in general? Organizing is king but... decluttering is like 1/3 of it, right?

    1. I do color code in my planner, but for different categories. So all of my to dos are the same color, the appointments are the same color, minus work items, which are a different color, etc. It helps me to see what needs to be done quickly, or at least to see what areas are busier than others. But aside from that, I'm not much into girly either. :)

      I have a separate small file box which I keep for certain things, like bills I have to pay, information I need at hand, catalogs to order from, and any project that I'm currently working on. I thought to discuss it here in this post, but it's not really file related. So I'll post about it in the future.

      Decluttering in general - well, it's just my husband and I at home right now, so for the most part, our house stays fairly clutter free most times. However, he's not as organized as me, leaving clothes all over the bedroom floor and papers everywhere. To help combat that, I've given him a large tote bag to place all of clothes that he doesn't feel like putting away (also will be highlighted in a future post). He doesn't always use it, but at least it gives me a place to chuck his things when I don't feel like tripping over them. I also gave him a file bin to throw his papers in. When it gets full, I make him go through it. It's not a fool-proof method, but it helps. I also have two bins -- one on the stairs, at the bottom, and one at the top of the stairs -- anytime I have anything to go up or down the stairs, I put items in the respective bin and carry everything up/down when I go. I'll also be mentioning those bins in a post. (Actually, it will be one post for all of these items since they're all from the same company, which I'll be highlighting the products of.)

      I'll have to keep an eye out for how I could do a decluttering post since I am able to keep up with my organizing as I go.

  3. I love this so much! Very organized! Very neat! Great idea with using colored tabs!

    1. Thanks! I was excited to be able to use items I already had, rather than buying new things.


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