Home Office Paper Organization: What Papers do I need to keep?

Keep your home office tidy with this guide on paper organization.

Store Records Electronically

It is a smart idea to scan, copy, and convert paper documents into a digital format. You can save these documents on a hard drive or in a secure cloud company. This allows you to save important documents and access them remotely in case of a natural disaster or emergency.

Prevent Identity Theft

Dispose of old tax documents, statements, or any papers with personal information by shredding. Do not simply toss in the trash. Although identity theft mostly takes place online these days, it is best to be extra cautious.

How long do I keep my tax records?

4 years from the due date of the return, or the date the return is filed.

6 years if you want to be extra safe. If the IRS suspects an underreported income (25%+) or indications of fraud, an audit may go back six years.

If I own a business, how long do I keep receipts?

4 years unless the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration gives written authorization for earlier disposal. This includes all records involving sales or use tax liability.

Should I keep divorce papers?

It is in your best interest to retain any and all documents related to your divorce, forever.

Personal Documents to Keep

One year

  • Pay checks
  • Cancelled checks

Three years

  • Medical bills
  • Expired insurance policies

Six years

  • Supporting documents for tax returns
  • Accident claims and reports
  • Tax related medical bills/bills
  • Sales receipts
  • Property records/improvement receipts
  • Mortgages, deeds, lease documents


  • CPA reports
  • Legal documents
  • Income pay checks
  • Income tax returns
  • Investment trade records
  • Retirement records

Special Circumstances

  • Car records (as long as you own the car)
  • Stock and bond records (6 years beyond selling)
  • Warranties and manuals (only keep if you still have the product)
  • Depreciation schedules and capital asset records (3 years after the tax life of the asset)

Personal Documents to Digitize

If you haven’t already, please opt-in to paperless settings. Typically, these papers end up compiling in piles causing more stress than good. You should be able to access all of your statements online, where the data is aggregated together.

  • Bank statements
  • Credit Card statements
  • Retirement contribution statements
  • Utility bills

Business Documents to Keep

One year

  • Purchase orders
  • Deposit slips
  • Requisitions
  • Receiving sheets

Three years

  • Employee applications
  • Employee records (after termination)
  • Employee time cards
  • Internal reports
  • Inventory log
  • Expired insurance policies

Six years

  • Accident claims/reports
  • Employee tax records
  • Expired contracts/leases
  • Inventory logs
  • Payroll records
  • Purchase orders
  • Sales records
  • Vouchers
  • Travel/entertainment records


  • Audit reports
  • Cancelled checks (tax payments)
  • Contracts
  • Leases
  • Deeds
  • Depreciation schedules
  • Investment trade confirmations
  • IRS reports
  • Legal records/correspondence
  • Mortgages, bills of sale
  • Property records
  • Retirement records
  • Tax returns
  • Trademark/patent registration

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    The information here is sourced from the Franchise Tax Board, California Tax Service Center, and CPA Rod.

    When to ask for help with clutter and hoarders?

    8 signs of when to ask for help for clutter and hoarders who live in a hoarder home.

    What’s the difference between a cluttered house and a hoarder house?

    A hoarder house typically has –

    • Clutter on all floors, sometimes pathways from points A to B
    • Junk on all surfaces including tables, counters, chairs, couches, etc.
    • Piles on piles of stuff with an assortment of items

    How does hoarding impact daily life and routines?

    • Difficult to do basic tasks such as cooking and cleaning
    • Limits social interaction such as inviting friends and family over
    • Constant loss of time and stuff by having to search and look for items
    • Spending more money on stuff the person already has causing duplicates and more clutter

    Can the hoarder meet their basic needs?

    A hoarder can have a low threshold for living standards. It’s important to be aware if the hoarder can still meet their basic needs in the home.

    • Can they wash their hands and take a shower?
    • Do they have access to laundry and warm water?
    • Are they able to cook beyond a microwave?
    • Where do they sleep? Is the bed or couch accessible?

    How long have they been living this way?

    • Has it been a year or more?
    • Is it getting visibly worse each time you visit?
    • Is it difficult for them to downsize and declutter?

    If you answered yes to the above questions, I recommend asking the person(s) if they want help.

    Is the house unsafe and unhealthy to live in?

    • How high are the piles?
    • Is there access to exit and entry doors?
    • What contents are in the home? (There is usually a pattern.)
    • Are there signs of mold, infestations, or asbestos?
    • Are there pets, feces, or any hazardous materials?

    If health and safety is in question then now is the time to help.

    hoarder shed with clutter on all floors and surfaces making it a dysfunctional space

    What kind of stuff is being collected and hoarded?

    One of the key signs of hoarding is when the person(s) keep items of little to no monetary value:

    • Napkins
    • Pieces of paper
    • Broken items
    • Paper boxes
    • Plastic bags

    What are signs and symptoms of hoarding?

    • Unable to get rid of items and declutter
    • Inability to let go
    • Anxiety about the potential future use of items
    • No designated home or organizational structure for things
    • Keeping distance between the home and friends, family, and social events

    What causes hoarding?

    People with hoarding disorder may or may not recognize that their habits and behaviors are negative. It’s important to acknowledge that the onset of hoarding usually starts from a stressful or traumatic event.

    The exact cause of hoarding is unknown but it can be associated with ADHD and OCD.

    Do you know someone who is hoarder and needs help?

    Now serving the cities of: Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Orinda, Concord, Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, Daly City, Burlingame, San Mateo, Belmont, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, San Jose, Fremont, Hayward, Castro Valley, Alamo, Danville, San Ramon, Dublin

    minimalist living room couch for simple living

    How can I start a more minimalist lifestyle?

    8 minimalist ideas to start your minimalist lifestyle today!

    How can I be more minimalist with clothing?

    Create a Capsule Wardrobe.

    What is a Capsule Wardrobe? It is when your clothes are composed of interchangeable items that maximizes the number of outfits you can wear. Learn more about how to create a minimalist wardrobe.

    How can I declutter books when I love reading?

    Keep books that spark joy® when you see them or that you will read now. Be honest with yourself. If you haven’t read a book that’s been sitting on the shelf for years, will you really read it?

    How can I become more minimalist with books?

    This sounds super old school but I recommend renting books from the library. I find that I actually read the books I get when I know I have to return them in 2-3 weeks. This also allows me to read all kinds of books (old and new) without them taking up space in my home.

    How can I downsize paper in my house?

    Stop the flow of paper coming in! It’s important to have a routine when it comes to mail:

    1. Immediately toss advertisements/spam/junk (less paper accumulation)
    2. Open envelopes and discard, only keep the important paper/letter (keep only what you need)
    3. Place important papers, bills, letters in a pending box
    4. Set a day to go through the mail once a week (no pile build ups)

    If you haven’t done so already, automate all of your bills online and sign up for the paperless setting.

    minimalist kitchen ideas on how to have less

    Is it possible to have a minimalist kitchen?

    Yes. Although this category is probably one of the hardest for me personally. I maintain having less in the kitchen by:

    1. Mindful spending: Less kitchen gadgets and more questions like, “What purpose does this item serve?”
    2. Buy food you intend to eat now not later.

    How can I have less cleaning products?

    Honestly, the only cleaning product I use is vinegar. Vinegar is a natural antiseptic and a perfect solution if you have pets or kids in the house. I have 2-3 spray bottles each filled with vinegar that I keep in the kitchen to wipe tables/counters and in the bathrooms.

    I’ve used vinegar for years and love the simplicity of having one product to clean everything.

    How can I feel more minimalist with laundry when I hate folding?

    It’s normal for laundry to be left in a basket for a few days. It is not normal when that is literally the place it lives and if it does – it better be in a designated spot in a closet. If you absolutely despise laundry and folding then I recommend –

    1. Hang most/all clothes
    2. Designate separate drawers for small items: socks, underwear, bras
    3. Designate a spot for your hamper to live that does not create visual clutter

    The key is to have a home for your clean clothes even if you don’t fold them. Simply toss items into drawers or on hangers. If you’re really lazy just leave them in the hamper but have a designated spot for that hamper to live. Create a system that works for you, is easy to maintain, and doesn’t disrupt the look and feel of your minimalist home.

    Do I really have to declutter my sentimental items?

    Absolutely not. It’s important to keep and display sentimental items throughout your home! If an item really means a lot to you then why not appreciate and look at it daily? Minimalism is about creating an environment that energizes and supports your lifestyle.

    sentimental vase displayed for joy in minimalist home
    Ready to work with a professional organizer near me?

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    donations to a cause

    Donate your Donations in the East Bay Area

    Donate for a cause – Support our East Bay community with your donations!

    Pro Organizer Tip: When it comes to donations, pick a cause you care about! Say goodbye to unused items in your home so they can spark joy in other peoples lives. Your clutter is someone else’s treasure!

    Garret Thrift Shop

    Cause: Supports John Muir Hospital and community events, fundraisers, and scholarships

    Accepts Donations: clothing, furniture, books, antiques, and more

    Donation Limit: 3 bags

    • Address: 1530 3rd Ave #463, Walnut Creek, CA 94597, United States
    • Hours: Wednesdays and Saturdays between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM
    • Phone: (925) 932-9474

    Youth Homes Thrift Shop

    Cause: Supports teens aging out of foster care

    Accepts Donations: clothing, small furniture, books, antiques, housewares, dishes, linens, art work, and more.

    Donation Limit: washed , clean, good condition

    • Address: 15 B Vivian Drive Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
    • Hours: Monday through Saturday 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
    • Phone: 925 798 5561

    “Rescued Treasures” Community Concern for Cats

    Cause: All the proceeds go directly to helping homeless cats in Contra Costa County

    Accepts Donations: gently used clothing, furniture, books, antiques, housewares, dishes, linens, art work, and other household items in good condition

    • Address: 1270 Newell Ave i, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
    • Hours: Monday through Saturday 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM
    • Phone: (925) 937-3201

    Hospice of the East Bay

    Cause: Donations create critical programs that enhance the quality of life for community members, music therapy, grief support for children & teens, and high-quality hospice care to everyone who needs it, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay

    Accepts Donations: Furniture, Clothing, Housewares, Jewelry, Home & Garden, Vintage

    Donation Limit: . Delivering your donations in bags that weigh less than 20lbs is much appreciated. To schedule a pick-up time, please call us at (925) 674-9072

    • Hours: Monday through Sunday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
    • Address & Phone:
      1. 1345 Newell Ave, Walnut Creek, CA 94596, (925) 947-1064 (Location may NOT be operating)
      2. 959 Contra Costa Blvd, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523 (925) 349-9680
      3. 444 Diablo Road, Danville, CA 94526 (925) 838-7697
      4. 5350 Clayton Road, Concord, CA 94521 925-674-9427
      5. 3162 Danville Blvd, Alamo, CA 94507 925-820-6525
      6. 550 Morello Ave, Martinez, CA 94553 925-372-3821

    Deacon’s Care Cottage

    Cause: provide food, clothing, and small household items donated by our congregation and friends to people in our local community who are in need

    Accepts Donations: high-quality clothing, linens, household goods, see the full list

    Donation Limit: Please make sure that the items are in good condition, not damaged, and if electrical, such as lights, that they are in working condition

    • Hours: Sunday 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, Monday-Thursday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Fridays 9:00 AM– 12:00 PM, Saturdays Closed, Closed on Major Holidays
    • Phone:  (925) 937-3978
    • Address: 1753 Lacassie Ave, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

    St. Vincent De Paul Society

    Cause: network of charity organizations with programs that provide food, clothing, shelter, rental assistance, medical services, employment, and workforce development in Contra Costa County

    Accepts Donations: clothing and household goods

    • Pleasant Hill
      • Hours: Sunday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM,
      • Phone: (925) 934-5063
      • Address: 2815 Contra Costa Boulevard, Pleasant Hill, CA
    • Pittsburg
      • Hours: Monday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
      • Phone: (925) 439-5060
      • Address: 2210 Gladstone Dr, Pittsburg, CA 94565
    • Brentwood
      • Hours: 7 days a week 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
      • Phone: (925) 635-3214
      • Address: 8890 Brentwood Blvd, Brentwood, CA 94513

    American Cancer Society Discovery Shop

    Cause: support the fight against cancer through the sale of high quality, gently used, donated merchandise

    Accepts Donations: clothing, accessories, jewelry, furniture, artwork, antiques, collectibles, and other household items

    Leftover’s Thrift Shop

    Cause: Proceeds are donated to the Contra Costa Crisis Center. Its mission is to keep people alive and safe, help them through crises, provide and connect them with culturally relevant resources in the community. They do this by operating three county-wide programs

    Accepts Donations: clothing, small furniture, books, antiques, housewares, dishes, linens, art work, and more.

    Donation Limit: It is a good idea to call before bringing your donations. Doesn’t sell or accept donations of television sets, microwave ovens, typewriters, telephones, large kitchen appliances, exercise equipment, window coverings (draperies or rods, blinds, shutters), large furniture, or electric blankets.

    • Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
    • Phone: (925) 930-9393
    • Address: 2281 Olympic Blvd, Walnut Creek, CA 94595

    Hall Closet in Martinez

    Cause:  support youth in the Contra Costa County juvenile justice system with a second chance

    Accepts Donations: clean clothing and kitchen items, good books, small household items, kitschy stuff, wall art, and jewelry


    • Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
    • Phone: (925) 957-5331
    • Address: 100 Glacier Drive Martinez, CA 94553

    Wayside Inn (Assistance League)

    Cause: support community programs, scholarships, and resources for kids, teens, and adults

    Accepts Donations: clothing, small furniture, books, antiques, housewares, dishes, linens, art work, and more.

    • Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
    • Phone: (925) 284-4781
    • Address: 3521 Golden Gate Way Lafayette, CA  94549

    ARF Thrift Store

    Cause: provides quality, affordable, veterinary care through our veterinary clinic for the companion animals of low-income Contra Costa County residents

    Accepts Donations: clean, good-quality clothing, accessories, furniture, books, small countertop appliances, *see website for unaccepted items*

    Donation Limit: Donation drop-off by appointment only

    • Address: 1950 Market Street, Suite H in Concord, CA
    • Phone: (925) 685-0908
    • Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM (back rooms close at 3:45 PM) Closed Sundays

    Teen Challenge

    Cause: provides successful recovery programs for men, women, teens, children, and families with destructive, abusive, and addictive lifestyles through mentoring, education, training

    Accepts Donations: gently used clothing, baby items, vintage, antiques, furniture, kitchen, bedding, books, etc.

    Donation Limit: Donation drop-off by appointment only

    • Address: 3437 Chestnut Avenue, Concord, CA
    • Phone: (925) 609-9171
    • Hours: Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday 10:30 AM to 6 PM, Wednesday 10:30AM to 5:30PM, Sundays 10AM to 6:30PM

    Looking for help? Let a professional organizer tidy and donate for you!

    One Bed Apartment Organization Before & After

    Service Type1:1 Coaching Services

    Home Organization Categories: Clothes, Books, Papers, Komono, Kitchen Komono, Sentimental

    Custom Systems in Rooms Include: Master bedroom, master closet, living room, kitchen


    Ready to Start Your Project?

    Clients recieve discounts of up to 20% OFF on products and installations!

    New Baby Prep Home Organization Before & After

    Service TypeVirtual Organizer Services

    Home Organization Categories: Clothing, Baby Clothing, Baby Feeding, Baby Linens, & more!

    Custom Systems in Rooms Include: Master bedroom, master closet, baby nursery, linens cabinet, kitchen, pantry shelf

    Mom’s Clothing

    Baby Clothing

    New baby clothes categorized by age and organized in bin

    Baby Nursery & Baby Station

    Layout plan for supplies in baby nursery
    Layout plan for supplies in baby nursery

    Linens & Kitchen Pantry


    Ready to Start Your Project?

    Clients recieve discounts of up to 20% OFF on products and installations!

    Single Family Home Organization Before & After

    Service TypeOrganization for You

    Home Organization Categories: Hobbies, Travel, Tools, Cookware, Dishwware, Appliances, Pantry, Papers, Office Supplies, and more!

    Custom Systems in Rooms Include: Family room, kitchen, dining room, office, laundry room, garage


    Ready to Start Your Project?

    Clients recieve discounts of up to 20% OFF on products and installations!

    organized suitcase for weekend travel trip

    Best Backpacking List 2023

    Check out the best 2023 backpacking list for my upcoming trip! Six months, five countries, one bag!

    2023 Country List

    • New Zealand (2 months)
    • Fiji – 5 islands (1 month)
    • Australia (2 weeks)
    • Vanuatu (2 weeks)
    • Tahiti (1 month)

    New Zealand

    New Zealand is known for its amazing scenery. A campers paradise and hikers dream! It’s important to wear layers, layers layers! Rain happens often and it’s important to be prepared at any moment – head to toe!

    Packing List

    • 1 waterproof pants
    • 1 water resistant fleece pants
    • 1 thermal pants
    • 2 leggings
    • 1 fleece shirt
    • 1 light sweater
    • 3 thermal long sleeves
    • 1 tank top
    • 1 t-shirt
    • 1 turtle neck
    • 5 hiking socks
    • 4 socks
    • 1 waterproof socks
    • 1 compression socks
    • 2 swimsuits
    • 2 bras
    • 10 underwear
    • 1 hiking shoes
    • 1 sandals
    • 2 Masks
    • 1 pair gloves
    Camping Supplies
    • Tent
    • Sleeping Bag
    • Stove
    • Water Filter
    • Reusable Utensils
    • Stasher Bags
    • (Everything else our camper van company is providing)

    Island Packing List

    • 1 denim shorts
    • 2 workout shorts
    • 2 tank tops
    • 2 dresses
    • Sun hat


    • 1 towel
    • 1 hand towel
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothpaste
    • Floss + flosser
    • Nightguard
    • Deet bug spray
    • Bug balm
    • Lotion
    • Sunscreen
    • Face Wash
    • Nail Clippers
    • Feminine Products
    • Shampoo Bar
    • Spare Earrings
    • Laundry Bag


    • Iphone + charger
    • Tablet + charger
    • Kindle + charger
    • Portable charger + cord
    • Headphones wired + wireless
    • Adaptors
    • Portable speaker

    Medications/First Aid

    • Bandaids
    • Neosporin
    • Alcohol wipes
    • Gloves
    • Dramamine 
    • Ibuprofen
    • Cold Medicine

    Day Pack

    • Dry bag
    • Waterproof Phone Holders
    • Water Filter Bottles
    • Snorkels 
    • Cards/Games
    • Hula Hoop/Stick


    • Passport
    • Passport Photos
    • Copies of ID’s, Cards
    • Mini Locks
    • Money Belt
    • Credit/Debit Cards
    • Cash

    Do you need help to create your best backpacking list?

    best backpacking bag osprey duplex 60 women's

    My Best Backpacking Products 2023

    Check out my recommended best backpacking products for 2023!

    Osprey Duplex 60 Backpack

    Breaks into two pieces!

    Frelaxy Waterproof Backpack Cover

    Straps in the back and a reflective strip on the front.

    DIMJ Packing Cubes, Toiletry Bag, Shoe Bag, Electronics Bag

    Perfect set with everything you need.

    Shappy Laundry Bag

    Solid space and has a loop to hang.

    Bogi Microfibrr Travel Towel

    I love that it comes with a body and hand towel!

    Katadyn Water Purifier

    3L of easy peezy filtered water anywhere!

    Katadyn Water Purifier Bottle

    Filtered water on the go for hikes is a must.

    Black Diamond 300-R Headlamp

    So many settings and so convenient when hiking and camping.

    Pelican Waterproof Phone Holder

    Perfect for a day at the beach or hike in the rain.

    Ceptics Fast Charging Adaptor Plug

    Stay connected. Be sure to research what kind of plug you need for which country.

    Stasher Bags

    Super handy to use for small toiletries, packaged food, electronics and more.

    Znocuetod Eye mask

    I love the lavender and gel insert!

    Looking for more best backpacking products?

    2 Bedroom 2 Bath Before & After Portfolio

    Service TypeOrganization for You

    Home Organization Categories: Clothes, Books, Papers, Komono, Kitchen Komono, Sentimental

    Custom Systems in Rooms Include: Master bedroom, master closet, two spare closets, office, kitchen, living room, two bathrooms, storage unit (not pictured)


    Ready to Start Your Project?