Hanging File Holder – How I Organize My Life

I might be exaggerating just a tiny bit. This only keeps 99% of my life organized.  The part of my life that concerns my kids.

The other 1% cannot be accounted for.

I have used this hanging file holder for years.

Not pretty, but it has served me faithfully since the days when I had only 2 Cs in school.  I’ve appreciated its service, but was ready for something a little more stylish.  So I made this one.


I would be a disaster without this organizing system. With 4 kids in school, sports, and other activities, having a system that manages the mountains of papers that are brought home every day is beyond a necessity.

So, here’s how I use it… (I’ll include the details of how I made it in a later post.)

Every evening after school I sort all of the papers that were brought home that day. (This eventually becomes a job that my kids take over.  I’m fortunate that the older 2 Cs now give me any important papers.  They almost never leave them crumpled at the bottom of their backpack ;).)

First I decide whether the paper is trash or needs to be filed.  (I throw a lot of things away!)  If it needs to be filed…

Each C has a pocket.  (You can read about the Cs here.)

Each C’s pocket has at least 3 folders, assigned a different category.  For us, these are the categories that work the best:

School, Sports, Activities

My Filing Criteria:

Action Items or Ongoing Forms. These papers have the top pocket on my file holder. This includes papers that need to be returned by a certain date (that I can’t immediately complete and return, such as fundraisers). Other things in this pocket includes school-supplied packets of excuse forms for when a student is absent, and on-going reading and physical activity challenge forms that are collected year-long. I try to check these folders daily, so that I don’t miss any deadlines.

General information. For example, the older Cs get a syllabus for each class, which includes their teacher’s phone number, e-mail, and classroom rules. Definitely information that I want to keep, so it goes into their School folders. The little Cs get information about what is expected of them at soccer or gymnastics, so those papers are filed in their Sports folders.

Dates and Schedules. If the paper has any type of schedule or date of an activity on it, I write that information on the calendar, and then I file the paper. For example, if there is a chorus concert scheduled for Nov. 8th, I write the time and event on the calendar. I don’t need to add the other information (student’s required attire, assigned refreshment donation, etc.) because I can just refer to the paper as the event date approaches. I also add all scheduled games to the calendar. Conor plays soccer and lacrosse in the fall – both schedules are on the calendar, and we can plan in advance for days when games and activities overlap.

‘Keeper’ Papers. If the papers are returned tests or assignments, I look them over and then throw most of them in the trash. It sounds harsh, but I certainly can’t keep every paper they’ve ever completed! I do keep things that they are especially proud of – if they’ve gotten the high test score in the class (yeah!), or did well on a challenging assignment, etc. I tend to keep less papers the older they get. (But it’s impossible to throw away any art projects from the little ones!) The special papers, report cards, art projects etc., get displayed on the magnet boards for a day or two before they are replaced by a new paper.

When I take them off the magnet board, they go here. There is just no room for them in my fabric organizer. Keeper papers require a separate holding area!

I have tried a few methods of dealing with keeper papers, and this definitely works the best. The easier it is to put an item away, the more likely you will actually do it. I used to try to put the keeper papers directly into storage containers after being displayed. This sounds ridiculous, but because I had to take the lids off each time, the papers tended to get stacked on top of the container instead of inside the container. Then I’d have to sort through them again and put them in the correct container.

This thing holds a ton of papers. I usually collect an entire year’s worth of keeper papers in it! Last year, Caroline was in kindergarten and I actually had to empty hers before the year was over. (Her class was either very busy last year, or I wasn’t as selective about what I kept.) At the end of the year, or when a a slot is full, I transfer the papers into one of these…

labeled with their name and school year, which is stored away in our attic-closet. (We don’t have a usable attic space. This is a closet that serves as a small attic.)


I’ve had my ‘Keeper-Paper’ metal bin (from JoAnn Fabrics) for about 4 years. It works for us even though it only has 3 slots. Before Chloe started preschool, Conor had a slot on the bin . Since he moved to middle school, he has very few papers that I keep, since most of their tests are taken on answer forms (and not always returned), and he only has art for part of the year. Any keeper paper for him now goes into his pocket on the fabric organizer, and Chloe took his slot on the metal bin. (It’s the circle of liiiiife…)

School Calendars and Menus.  Calendars that each school distributes every month and lunch menus don’t get filed.  The school calendars note special assemblies and programs, and important school happenings that may or may not involve my Cs.  I add the activities that concern us on my calendar, and then put these calendars on the magnet boards so that I can refer to them easily. The school menus stay on the side of the fridge so that everyone has easy access to them in the morning.

In case you’re curious, other pockets on the organizer are designated for coupons, take-out menus, directories, and church.

So much paper that can cause so much aggravation when it’s shoved in drawers or stacked on counters, all neatly tucked away and hanging on the pantry door.  Ahhhhh….. I can sleep easily at night!

I can’t tell you enough how much less stressful life is by using this system!!!  I’d love to hear how you stay organized.  Any tips or suggestions??

Have a great week!


Linking Up…

Twigg Studios – Sunday Show Off Linky Party

DIY Showoff – DIY Project Parade

Elizabeth & Co. – Be Inspired

Between Naps on the Porch – Metamorphosis Monday

My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia – Tuesday’s Treasures

The Ironstone Nest – Transformation Tuesday

Coastal Charm – Nifty Thrifty Tuesday

Restore Interiors – Restored It Wednesday

Beyond the Picket Fence – Under $100

House of Hepworths – Hookin Up with HoH

It’s Overflowing – Overflowing With Creativity

Savvy Southern Style – Wow Us Wednesdays

The Shabby Creek Cottage – Transformation Thursday

The Brambleberry Cottage – Time Travel Thursday

My Repurposed Life – Catch as Catch Can

2805 – Potpourri Friday

Jennifer Rizzo – Fabulously Creative Friday Linky Party

At The Picket Fence – Inspiration Friday

Redoux Interiors – Friday Redouxs

French Country Cottage – Feathered Nest Friday

Shabby Art Boutique – Shabbilicious Friday Link Party

The Shabby Nest – Frugal Friday

Stuff and Nonsense – Fridays Unfolded

Homespun Happenings – Rustic Restorations Weekends




  1. Bren- so excited I found your blog! I love it and love you!!!! We must make one of these for our kids…can’t wait for the tutorial. It is so clever and totally functional! Way to go! Much love to all of you! Miss you all :)

    • Kel – thanks so much!!! Hope all is well with everyone. I miss you and your crew too!!! Would love to see you…

  2. Hi Brenda,
    Laurie sent me your blog and I love it! You are very crafty. I stay organized with a magazine box for each person and have manilla folders in them. Then in my desk they have their own file with manilla folders labeled PTA, 2nd grade and finished papers. Like you, I don’t keep every paper. You just can’t. Then I use under the bed boxes for their art work. They are nice because they hold bigger art projects.
    Looking forward to your future posts. Oh, loved your hanging flower vases!

    • Hey Jessica! Thanks so much for stopping by!! I love your idea of the magazine box – I never thought of using them for folders. Perfect! Under the bed boxes are a great idea too (especially because of the bigger papers). I know that I would have a huge stack of papers on the counter before I put them in the box though. I don’t know why I procrastinate about things that should only take a minute!!!
      Thanks for the comment – hope to hear from you again! :)

  3. Karen Blumensheid says:

    I love your website and the blogs. I especially love the hanging file folder idea. Looking forward to the tutorial and thinking of making them as gifts for Christmas. Thank you for sharing the idea!!

    • Karen – thank you for your kind words! I’ve actually had the tutorial written for a while, but I forgot to take pictures of the process, so I’ve been waiting for time to recreate the project! As luck would have it, 2 sweet friends have asked me to make them one, so I will soon be able to take some pictures ofthe process! lol.
      Thanks for stopping by…

      • Hi-Do you have instructions to make the hanging file holder somewhere on our site? I can’t find them. thanks

  4. Hello! I love your hanging organizer and would love to make one on a smaller scale for our mail. Have you posted a how-to yet? Would it be possible to get either a link or some instructions? Thank you!

    • Hi Kelsey. Your timing is perfect! I have actually been helping a couple of friends make one for their homes this week, and I’ve been able to take the pictures that I missed when I made mine. Please check back next week – I hope to have it posted by Monday.
      Thanks so much-

  5. shauna stalnaker says:

    How do I get one of these hanging organizers that you made???

  6. Kelly J. says:

    Hi Brenda. Awesome file idea over the door. Talk about utilizing all options;)
    Where can I find howvto Make one of these on your site?
    I saw a previous post asking when you will have a tutorial out… When do you think that may be?

    Thank you very much!

  7. Hello. Where can I find the directions how to make the hanging file.

    Thank you!!! GREAT IDEA!!!!!!!!!

  8. Andrea Sullivan says:

    Any directions on the hanging file yet? Thanks.

  9. Also a fan of this idea and wondering if you have posted the tutorial yet?

  10. mary Miller says:

    I am also interested in the directions for this door organizer, I love your ideas you girls are all so talented

  11. Hey Brenda – I’m a newcomer to the blog and I was scanning thru the threads for the tutorial or instructions that were mentioned, but couldn’t find any posts after mid November. I run my own business making organic dog treats and I SO need something like this!
    If you take the time to send me the tutorial I will send you a couple sample bags of my Jazzy Jerky. Hopefully you have dogs and/or cats. (99% of pets LOVE it!)

  12. Please, where the instructions?


  14. Brenda,

    Love the organizer, but still don’t see the directions to make it. Please help us out!

  15. She’s posted the tutorial here! I can’t wait to get started!!

  16. Plan on making one of these to hold all my lids for my pots and pans. Make the pockets deep enough and they won’t get dusty from sitting out. Thanks

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