I help a lot of clients with papers.
I usually start with:
What papers do you need/want to keep?
What papers do you need easy access to?
What should be done with papers you are not keeping? (shred or recycle)
People keep papers for different reasons and my goal is to help people articulate what they need/want and what can go. Once we know what you are keeping, we next need to know how those papers will be used. If it is taxes, for example, you will hopefully not need to ever look at them. In that case, they can go in cold storage (somewhere out of the way - basement, attic, back of closet, etc.) Sometimes papers are kept for sentimental reasons, but in all likelihood will rarely be looked at. Those too can go in cold storage.
For the items that you need more immediate access to, we identify how and where they can be stored that is easy for you to get to. It must be easy for you to access papers and to file new things. I like hanging folders for paper because I think they are very easy to use. Some people put things in binders, but if every sheet needs to be punched first, it will take more time to put things away which is often why we don’t do it.
Like most storage areas, hanging files do not work as well if they are crammed into a space. This means that it is important to maintain your files by tossing what you don’t need on a regular basis. Another challenge can be having too many files. When you have fewer files you can find the file you want easily. If you find yourself with a hundred files, it can be difficult to remember what you called the one you are looking for.
If you need 100 files, I recommend that broad subjects have their own color. For example, you may have 14 files related to health. Use red hanging files for those. If you have 20 files for investments, keep those in green folders (or whatever colors make sense to you). It is much easier to find a file in a section of 15 yellow files than 100 green ones.