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DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

What do you do with things you need to keep close at hand to reference later? (Details)

Asked by DarlingRhadamanthus (11250points) December 19th, 2011

This question has two parts:
1. How do you organize papers that you need to browse through and keep separate from your big old file in the office…interesting bits of information, small quotations, cuttings from newspaper, catalogues, bits and things for inspiration or pictures?

2. How do you keep magazines sorted? Magazines that have articles/ideas that you want to reference later? (I do design work, so always refer back to old magazines for inspiration. I also keep spiritual magazines for the same reason.)


What do you do when you want to keep a catalogue at hand, a brochure at hand, or a flyer or a magazine…in other words, there is something that you want to reference later ? You don’t want to keep it in a larger file because it’s something of greater interest or need (for example, it contains a blue vase that will match perfectly with Auntie Jane’s bedroom and her birthday is coming up.) I don’t really sit in a home office, I like to browse through things wherever I can find a comfortable place and a few minutes.
I have sooo many things that keep getting buried/lost because I don’t have an organized system of some sort. It has to be portable…and maybe I will need more than one.

How do you organize (first) your important papers? Then, other things that you need to look through? (I’m looking for ideas).

Also, aaaaaargggggghh….magazines…and catalogues. I don’t have enough shelf space and that’s because after every season, I through out last season’s catalogues! Where do you put your catalogues? How do you organize them?

Magazines…someone suggested once that I cut out the pictures I like and file them (I like decorating magazines for ideas) in a notebook. Well, I tried to do that, but the magazine pages are too big to put in a normal binder (for example, with plastic sleeves). I tried a scrapbook, but that wasn’t large enough, as decorating mags are usually larger. either. And most magazine articles have photos on both sides (which you usually want to keep to view).

So, how do you organize the “little stuff” you don’t want to lose in the larger files….and magazines and catalogues?

(Sorry this took so long to explain).

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16 Answers

DrBill's avatar

I have a special file in my file cabinet just for stuff like that

lillycoyote's avatar

I have a couple of these things that I use for current and currently important papers that I don’t want to file away too deep, like this years tax documents, or things I want at the ready, right at hand and for current magazine and catalogs I have wicker baskets, like these. I think the 3rd one down is kind of magazine and catalog sized. Filing magazines and catalogs is kind of a pain in the ass because they don’t want to stand up straight and they are very heavy and I don’t find just cutting out the useful parts a very good strategy form me, so I like the baskets.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I read a lot of journal articles for my work; I try to print out as few as possible; usually they can be downloaded and deleted when read, or stored if necessary, in electronic form. I never keep magazines; life is too short. If you need them in paper form for work, that is a conundrum… I would look into getting downloadable versions – it’s easier to keep them in front of your nose, so to speak, without cluttering your house at all.

JLeslie's avatar

I use a step file on top of my desk to hold files I am using often during a project. Later the file folders can be moved to a more permanent storage file when they are no longer being used regularly. I tend to hate to put things away, I like them out where I can see them, so this is a happy medium for me.

I also tend to like binders better than files, because binders can be up on a shelf with what is inside labelled right on the binder for me to see when I stare at the bookcase, instead of hidden down in a file cabinet all locked away in a drawer. But, I see from what you wrote you tried binders, whoch seemed not to work well, and you are tight on shelf space. Although, I do have one suggestion about the binders, the pages might fit if you just punch three holes right in the page instead of putting them in plastic sleeves. Although, the sleeves do make the pages look pretty. :)

I have clear plastic boxes, about the size of large shoe boxes, with lids that I can stack for all my travel stuff. I label them with a label maker. Michigan, Wisconson, Illinois, Indiana in one; Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, in another, etc. It has maps, the little brochures you can get from local hotels in the area, etc. Whenever I go back to a state I have all those things to look at again. I wonder if something like thay might work for you?

Some little stuff I staple to bigger stuff to not lose them, or onto blank sheets fo paper.

I hired a professional organizer a couple of times and it was extremely helpful. They can evaluate exactly how much you have of all the different things and give you suggestions. They’ll help you sort through whatever piles of stuff you have and write up a shopping list of containers and folders to buy.

CaptainHarley's avatar

My desk looks like someone detonated a paper-bomb in the immediate vicinity. When I’m working on an article, I have magazines, research papers, cut-outs, books, and virtually everything else you can imagine scattered ovr desk and table-tops, nearby tables and stools, and even the floor. Does that tell you anything? : )

Coloma's avatar

My “system” is easy.
Throw away/shred/burn anything that I glance over, other than insurance paperwork and taxes. My desk in pretty well organized.
“Important” magazines are in a basket in the bathroom for morning contemplation of Budget Travel destinations. Haha

I have a bill holder on a rattan shelf unit in my kitchen that occasionally holds a couple of things I want to go over, but…that’s about it.
I don’t like clutter, I HATE keeping non-essential paperwork and I only subscribe to one travel mag.

I am Coloma the clutterless. :-D

DaphneT's avatar

I read a book called File Don’t Pile by Pat Dorff and picked up her second book, File Don’t Pile for Writers. I’m still not a writer and I keep trying to use her techniques. I use file folders that are labeled, but space constraints put them into a box. I use black markers and pens to mark as much as I can, I rely on rearranging my space to ‘surface’ pieces I’m looking for. Still haven’t found a critical piece of paper…

Blueroses's avatar

I love clear plastic accordion files. It’s easy to keep related things together, the pockets are large enough for whole magazines or textbooks, they stay closed securely, it’s easy to see what’s inside. It sure beats my old system of hanging important documents on the refrigerator.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Wow! Thanks for the great suggestions….I feel more energized now! I was just looking at the stacks of (mostly) paper and wondering what to do? Now all of you have given me some great tips!

@DrBill…I just didn’t want to use the big file…:(
@lillycoyote and @Blueroses…Yes, I am looking into smaller files I can take around with me.
@dappled_leaves…I do a lot of visual work, I am visual so I need to have magazines and ephemera for stimulation.
@JLeslie…Wanna come over to my house?? LOL Wow! You are really organized! The idea of getting an organizer to come in and survey and make suggestions is something I am going to file away…too.
@CaptainHarley,...Yes I can picture it now….because it looks a bit familiar to me
@Coloma,...OH to be like you!
@DaphneT…I will check out that book, thank you.

Lurve coming to alllllllllllllllllllllllll thank you thank you!

YARNLADY's avatar

I have stacking trays that I keep my stuff in, plus I made a desk caddy for some things.

peytonx3x's avatar

I usually leave mixed knick-knacks and rubbish on my big bathroom counter.

The things I have on that counter right now vary from a tattoo machine to a half-drinken can of Sprite.

JLeslie's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus It all sounds good, but I still have some piles of papers around because I don’t immediately put things where they belong. I am not naturally organized, and I hate to put things away. I’d rather clean my bathroom than sort through my papers. That’s why the professional organizer is worth it for me, I’d rather pay one twice a year than maids for spring cleanings. I don’t do that, I don’t either on any sort of regular basis, even just twice a year, but I should.

I also love to throw things away if I can, because I hate to put it away or organize it. But, I would be like you about wanting to keep the magazine stuff and swatches from a project etc. I just need to get better at throwing papers out more regularly.

Coloma's avatar

I DO have a thing for post it notes though, infact, my notes to myself are very important. l
Last night I had just gone to bed when I remembered today is trash day. I am always paranoid I’ll forget to take my trash can up to the road, and write myself a note the night before.

I HAD to get up and go write my post it note and stick it on the juicer on the kitchen counter at midnight: ” TRASH OUT A.M.” lol

jca's avatar

At work, I have what’s called in office lingo “green hanging file folders.” I have them for my personal stuff but I keep them at work, where there is more room, and where I am more likely to be handling something on phone or computer. I have one for the following topics:
evaluations (work related)

and at home, I have one for ID and one for education (which has my diploma, etc.).

When I receive a check (for example a reimbursement from an insurance issue) I make a copy of it and attach it to the invoice or correspondence, so that I know when I open the file that it’s been paid. Same with taxes – I make a copy of the reimbursement check and attach it to the copy of the tax return so that I know it’s been taken care of. Whenever I correspond with a business I keep a copy of my letter in the correspondence file.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Organization is my “thing.” I have a mylar folder that I carry around with me, with internal file folders that are labeled as so; bills, wish list, receipts, pending projects, ordered items, and misc. This is for things that I am currently working on and/or currently need. Then I have a filing cabinet at home where I put older things that need archived, such as tax returns, receipts and instruction manuals for all of my appliances, house papers, etc. In there I have files for obituaries, newspaper articles, and all that. I have a fancy box in my closet to keep keepsakes such as special cards or letters, movie tickets, souveniers.

If I am working on a special project, such as an insurance claim, I will start a new file in the current folder and keep everything to do with that insurance claim in there until it is all settled, then I will move it to the archive cabinet.

Sounds a little crazy, but I am really OCD when it comes to paperwork.

JLeslie's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus You inspired to clean up my office. I still have about an hours worth of work to go. I actually cleaned my closet in the office too, which really needed to be done.

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