The Must-Have Tool for Organizing Paper

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When you think of organizing products, the first things that probably come to mind are those items which will remain at your client’s home or office, such as containers to store various large or small objects together and keep them in their proper place. Then there are other products which are designed to be used during the organizing process, such as the all-purpose file sorter.

I fell in love with the file sorter back when I was working in an office with a lot of paperwork, so when I became an office organizer, I was quick to add one to my toolkit.

When you have large quantities of paperwork to sort, organizing it into piles requires a lot of space on your work surface, and it’s hard to efficiently keep track of what goes in each pile. The file sorter addresses both of these problems.

Basically, you still sort the documents into piles, but instead of spreading them out on the desk or table (or the floor, if there’s a huge amount!), you simply slide them into the appropriate slot. The tabs are labelled several ways, so you can easily sort alphabetically, by day of the week, date or month, or by file number, and they’re staggered so you can still see the labels even when you’ve inserted lots of pages. Once everything is sorted, you can pull out each section for filing or further sorting.

Using the file sorter can minimize strain on your neck and back, especially on really large organizing jobs. One project where I found it exceptionally useful was with a client who used a full size binder-style Franklin Planner, in which he inserted his meeting agendas, itineraries, and any other paperwork related to his schedule. Each month he would remove the pages and put them in a pile on his shelf. By using my file sorter, I was able to organize all those pages and place them in order and in their appropriate storage case in a fraction of the time that it would have otherwise taken me – benefitting me physically and mentally, and saving my client money.

I had the Pendaflex Plastic Sort-All Sorter, but several similar products are available, including the C-Line 30526 and the C-Line 30532. The tabs on all three of these products are plastic, allowing you to easily slide papers in and out. If you prefer not to buy plastic products, C-Line also makes a pressboard version.

What’s your favorite tool for organizing paper?

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A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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  1. Moreen Torpy Moreen Torpy on May 28, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    This is an awesome tool. While I don’t carry one in my toolkit, I’ve used one at a client’s office.

    When sorting papers in my office (sometimes I bring the piles there to work in a quieter environment, and depending on the client) I use something I devised myself to sort by month. This is a simple hanging folder system labelled by month so papers can simply be dropped into the appropriate one, then re-sorted according to date afterwards.

    If I have several years to sort, I have large dollar store baskets on which I tape the year, and do the pre-sort this way.

    It’s great to try different ways of doing this tedious job till we find the tool that works best for us in whatever circumstance. 🙂

  2. Avatar Jacki Hollywood Brown on May 28, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I gotta get me one of these!
    Thanks Janet!

  3. Julie Bestry Julie Bestry on May 28, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    LOL–I’d completely forgotten these predecessors of my beloved tickler file. I used these as a teenager when I worked in the public library (long before the days of computerized search), and they are an excellent tool for speedy sorting.

  4. Avatar Janet Barclay on May 29, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Moreen, thanks for sharing your system with us. This sorter is great for those occasions when it’s not practical to take the paperwork away with you.

    Jacki, I’m sure you will love it!

    Julie, I hope you enjoyed the walk down memory lane. 🙂

  5. Avatar Melodee Patterson on May 29, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Oooooh! Another reason to take a trip to the office supply store. Thanks, Janet!

  6. Avatar Janet Barclay on May 30, 2009 at 5:13 am

    Melodee, I often think I should have been in the office supply industry – so many wonderful things!

  7. Avatar Autumn Leopold on October 1, 2014 at 11:47 am

    This is a great tool to have as an organizer to help your clients sort! I honestly has no idea! Thanks Janet!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on November 14, 2014 at 10:26 am

      I kept mine up until a year or two ago. I use so little paper in my business these days that I decided to pass it on to someone who’d get better use of it.

  8. Avatar Seana Turner on July 2, 2024 at 10:02 am

    I’ve never heard of this tool. How neat!

    I was working with a client on sorting paper yesterday. Sometimes I do make the piles around the room. That works, but as you say, takes space.

    Yesterday we got into a rhythm where my client would say what file she needed to make, and then I made a label on my label maker and created the file and inserted the contents. This worked well, but required both of us. This tool would be very helpful if it were just me working in a small space. I love learning about new organizing tools. 🙂

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on July 2, 2024 at 11:15 am

      I don’t remember where I first saw this – it may have been in one of the offices where I worked before starting my business – but it proved itself to be very valuable! I especially love that it’s so versatile that you can use it no matter how you’re organizing the files.

  9. Linda Samuels Linda Samuels on July 2, 2024 at 11:55 am

    I love this ‘old school’ paper sorter. It’s an intriguing option for sorting and something I never saw before. Just don’t try picking it up once it’s full—that could be disastrous!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on July 2, 2024 at 12:47 pm

      Good advice! I recommend removing the papers in one section at a time for filing.

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