Paper clutter is a struggle in many home offices and mine is no exception! Recently I tackled one of the organizing projects I wanted to complete in 2020, reorganizing my blog notebooks, and I’m sharing the process with you. In today’s post learn how to organize 3-ring binders and conquer paper clutter!
How to Organize (or Reorganize) 3-Ring Binders
Back in January I shared the organizing projects I wanted to tackle in 2020, and one of the first projects I was hoping to complete was reorganizing my blog binders.
Well, I’m excited to say that this project is (mostly) complete. The shelf looks SO much better and my binders are so much more organized and easier to use!
Here’s a look a the shelf before….
And after the reorganization project….
Ahhhh, so much more organized and easier on the eyes!
In case you didn’t see the post about the organizing projects I wanted to tackle in 2020, here’s a little introduction to this binder organization project including the steps I planned to complete and potential pitfalls I wanted to avoid.
I keep a ton of my blog resources in 3-ring binders, and they’re a mess (you can see them to the left of the magazines)!
Here are the specific action steps for this project:
- I switched to a second binder mid-year in 2019 and kept going back and forth between the two with no rhyme or reason. I need to declutter, reorganize, and combine those two binders into one. (DONE!)
- In my busier (or lazier) times, I just stuck papers on the shelf rather than filing them in their appropriate binder, so that’s another pile I want to declutter, reorganize, and place in the appropriate binder/s. (DONE!)
- I also have several binders that hold resources for the online courses I’ve purchased. I need to better organize these binders, recycle or shred the course resources I no longer need, and make a plan to complete courses that are taking me far too long. (MOSTLY DONE – I still have a stack of older course papers to sort and declutter, but I’m working through it little by little.)
I expected this project to be fairly simple and straightforward, and it was.
But, also as I expected, it took a significant amount of time to sort, declutter and organize all the papers. I completed multiple, short rounds of sorting to avoid burnout and tweaked the binder organization.
Now, let’s jump into how to organize 3-ring binders!
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy. As always, my favorable opinion of affordable office organizing supplies is 100% my own. I only recommend products that I use and love.
Here are the supplies I used during this project:
- 3-Ring Binders
- Dividers (Regular and Plastic)
- 3-Hole Punch
- Labelmaker and Tape
- Temporary Storage Boxes (large or smaller)
- Sticky Notes
- Paper Clips
- Binder Clips
- Trash Can
- Recycling Bin
Thankfully, many of these supplies were already conveniently located in my office organization kit, so I was able to grab them quickly and jump right into my project!
My Basic Organization Process
Establishing an organization system that you follow every time you declutter and organize an area in your office or at home makes the process easier and much more enjoyable! By following the same steps each time, you save time and energy, too.
Well, this project was no exception and following my basic organization process helped the project go smoothly, ensured I stayed focused and didn’t abandon the project midway, helped me conserve valuable time and energy, and allowed me to enjoy the process!
You can learn more about the steps in my basic organization process in this post: How to Organize Absolutely Anything at Work.
STEP #1: A QUICK SUCCESS
When embarking on an organization project, whether large or small, it’s important to experience a quick success that will propel you through the rest of the project.
I experienced a quick success with this binder organizing project by completely clearing the shelf where I store my blog binders, relocating the items on the shelf to a corner of my office (ready and waiting to be moved to my sorting workspace—my family room floor), and gave the shelf a good dusting.
STEP #2: A PROJECT PURPOSE & PLAN
After experiencing a quick organization success, it was time to determine the why behind my project and make a plan of attack.
What did I want to accomplish with this project?
I hope to:
- Clear the paper clutter
- Be able to quickly find what I need when I need it
- Stop recreating items
- Be able to quickly return items to their assigned homes when clearing my desk at the end of my workday
- Breathe a happy sigh when I look at my beautifully organized, paper clutter-free shelf 😉
This step might feel like overkill for a smallish project like organizing some binders, but I’ve found it so helpful to determine the “why” behind my organizing projects. It helps me to clarify why the project is important and why it’s worth the output of my time and energy, which also helps me to stay motivated enough to actually finish the project!
STEP #3: COMPLETE A SPACE AUDIT
This step in my basic organizing process really isn’t necessary for this project.
I know that my blog binders will be returning to the same shelf and take up a little less, if not the same amount of space. I’m not planning to move them to another space or add additional items to this shelf, so a space audit isn’t crucial here.
STEP #4: SORT
Ah, now this step is incredibly important, and it’s where I spent the bulk of my time and energy with this project!
Here are my starting piles:
I completed several rounds of sorting during this organizing project.
Sorting Round 1
For round #1, I spread out on my family room floor and sorted my loose papers into various categories.
Once all of the papers had been sorted, I condensed the categories into 3 main ones:
- Class Information (there was a ton of these papers)
- Projects & Product Development
- Blog Stuff (including lots of goal brainstorming)
Not a great photo, but it was late and dark and I’d spent hours sorting papers. :\
Sorting Round 2
Round #1 went fairly quickly, so I immediately jumped into round #2 of sorting.
For this round I sorted the course information pile into more specific categories, including:
- Courses I want to take or review first
- Other courses
- Courses to review, then decide whether I’ll complete them or not (includes many opt-ins and free webinars)
Since it was getting late and my brain was starting to get foggy, I decided it was a good time to take a break.
I took my sorted piles and stored them neatly in a file box I had hanging around. I separated each pile with a plastic divider.
Sorting Round 3
The next afternoon I returned to this project for another round of sorting.
This time I worked at my dining room table and sorted my blog pile into more specific categories, including:
- Goals & To-Do’s
- Routines & Systems
- Blog Content
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing & Planning
- Blank Notebook Paper (I sorted this out then put it away where it belonged)
- More Course Supplies (oops—I added these papers to my other pile so all of my course information was together)
Again, these images stink, but they will give you an idea of the process. Let’s blame it on the late hour, the fact that it was dark, and my tiredness (and not on my photography skills or lack thereof). 😉
Oh, and don’t mind the Christmas decorations. I completed the sorting in January.
At this point, it was time for another break, so again I added these piles to the file boxes I had and separated each pile with a plastic divider.
Sorting Rounds 4-???
The remaining rounds of sorting took place over several weeks during small chunks of available time.
I took the top pile out of my file box and sorted through each paper in the pile.
- Filed it in the appropriate section of my blog binder
- Created a new section in my blog binder and filed it
- Added the information contained on the paper to my Trello Boards (where I organize most of the tasks and task-related resources specific to my blog)
- Combined information into one document including digitizing it, as appropriate
I was amazed at how much of this paper clutter was directly related to my to-do’s!
There were items I wanted to implement in my email marketing, content planning and editing tasks, blog post ideas, social media and email strategies, etc.
I clearly needed a better system for organizing my tasks and task-related resources (enter Trello, post coming soon, and my action files)!
STEP #5: REORGANIZE MY BLOG NOTEBOOK
The final step in this project was to reorganize my actual blog binder. It was one of the easiest because of the legwork I completed earlier!
During this step I completed the following tasks:
- Rearranged binder sections
- Added a couple of sections
- Removed a few sections
- Added papers to the appropriate binder sections
And now my blog binder is all organized and easy to use!
How to Organize 3-Ring Binders
It feels great to have knocked out one of the organization projects I had slated for 2020, and my newly organized binders are more efficient and so much easier to use!
In today’s post I walked you through how I applied my basic organizing process to organizing my blog binders and took you through each step in the project. Hopefully, it will help you to tackle the paper clutter in your office and organize your 3-ring binders!
If you enjoyed today’s post on how to organize 3-ring binders, you might find these related posts helpful:
- 7 Ways to Organize Your Office with Binders
- Organize Business Receipts in 4 Simple Steps
- The First Step to Conquer Home Office Paper Clutter
Are you a fan of binders for organizing all the paper things? How have you used binders to improve the organization in your home office? Let me know in the comments below!
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Thanks for joining me today!