How to Create a Tabletop File

Nov 21, 2019 | Blog, Paper Organizing

Hello MO followers! Are you still with me? I know this is a very laborious process and you probably would rather be doing ANYTHING else than organizing your paper! If you are still with me, bravo. You are on your way to getting this done!

Today we are going to tackle the tabletop file, which may also be referred to as a mini-file.

According to my backward method, we are currently only dealing with NEW paper coming into the home. With this method, you are essentially training yourselves on a new way of handling paperwork without getting overwhelmed by the older piles you have laying and hidden all over the house. We will tackle those piles soon, I promise.

The tabletop file is a temporary desktop filing system is simply a place to put and keep the new files that are coming in. That’s it! Nothing more.

To create your mini-file, you can use whatever materials you like, but I highly recommend that you keep it simple, easy to use and convenient. The focus here is on changing your habits, not making things look perfect.

Here are the materials you need:

Mini-File Shopping List to Get Organized1. An inbox – You need a place where new information can land until you have the time to take action.

2. A file box – Tabletop file boxes are perfect for the mini-file system. They come in wood, plastic, acrylic, heavy duty cardboard and metal, and in a range of price points and quality levels.

3. Hanging files – For this system ,you only need 6 to 12 hanging files. Since they will be sitting out and if you would like the system to look pretty, go ahead and treat yourself to the wide array of colors, patterns and styes available at most stores.

4. Interior file folders – These are my go-to favorite office supplies EVER! They keep me organized, on task, and allow me to tidy my space in minutes. I buy them in bulk. My latest purchase color is grey because they go with everything. I prefer the 1/3 cut tab size since they are larger and are therefore more visible.

5. Post-It Notes – Go ahead and splurge on the actual Post-it note brand and you won’t have to worry about your Sharpies bleeding through, or your notes not sticking properly. If you use the 1/3 cut size file folder, a 3 x 3 size Post-it fits perfectly within the tab.

6. Sharpies – They come in every color of the rainbow and a variety tip thickness levels. I prefer a black fine point for organizing paper. They allow for the perfect blend of thickness, a bold color and even come with a convenient click top so you don’t have to mess with the lid.

Once you have your materials ready, it is time to set up your paper organizing system! All we are doing here is creating files for the categories you require in your home. This will differ from household to household, so think first about the kind of paper you have coming in on a daily basis. Grab a recently acquired pile and notice what categories you have. You’ll begin to see patterns as you go!


Here are the Tabletop Paper File Categories that Miller Organized Recommends:

You will notice that these files are verb-oriented, since there is some kind of action associated with it. This helps your brain to group items according what needs to happen next.

An action file. This to do list file should hold any reminders or little stack of papers for all those random things that you need to do. Instead of hanging out all over the place, they can live in this file.

A pending file. This will include anything that is in process, which you need to keep but isn’t done yet.

A “To File” file. Anything that needs to be kept for reference but doesn’t require an action should go here.

A tax file. Anything that is tax related from paying back taxes, to mailing in estimated taxes to donation receipts to notes regarding taxes all live in this file. This will be super handy when you go to file your taxes next year.

Other examples for tabletop file categories could be bills to pay, medical, guardianship papers, insurance, etc.

The important take away here is to make sure that you are dealing with all the paperwork as it comes in in an easy to reach location of the home. This will help stem the flow of paper and get you to a place where you are ready to deal with older piles of paper, which we’ll be covering next.

Melinda Miller Paper Organizing

Now you have an organized place for all that incoming paper!

Until next time, happy sorting!

Melinda Miller

Want more information on how to get organized, find your motivation and create the home of your dreams?

Keep reading the MyMO blog.

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