How to Organize Important Documents: My New Secret Weapon

Wish you knew how to organize important documents more effectively? I've discovered the ultimate secret weapon in the ongoing battle against paper clutter and lost papers.

Think about it. How many hours of your life have you spent hunting for a missing piece of paperwork? Your Social Security Card. Your kids’ birth certificates. The contact info for that guy who unplugged your drain a few years back. The warranty and purchase information for an appliance on the fritz. Time and time again, you think there’s GOT to be a better way to organize important documents.

My desk last fall, when I was trying to straighten out a billing dispute – before I tried my new secret weapon!

Not to mention organize all the paper clutter related to a specific problem:

  • Your record of conversations with the insurance company over a disputed bill.
  • The various proposals you collected last year for a future home-improvement project.
  • The paper trail you’ve amassed after wading through a case of identity theft.

Every time a half-day disappears while you wrestle with paper clutter, you wish there were a better way to get it under control for good.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could reclaim those wasted hours? Think of all the things you could do if you didn’t have to waste all that time in the first place!

I like to think I’m halfway decent at filing things away for later reference. Yet every so often, one misstep leaves me frustrated at the hours lost hunting for one little scrap of paper. And that’s when I stop and think to myself: There’s got to be a better way!

My New Secret Weapon to Organize Important Documents

I know your pain. I’ve been there more than once. And I’m happy to announce, I’ve finally found the Holy Grail that has helped me better organize important documents, once and for all!

I admit, I was skeptical when the folks at Ahh Hah! Organizer Kits reached out to me a few months ago, and offered me free samples of their kits in exchange for an honest review. But after giving their organizing kits a trial run for the past few months, I can enthusiastically say that their document organization systems have saved my backside (not to mention many wasted hours!) more than once. 

The Ahh Hah! document organization systems are ingenious, beautifully constructed, and well worth the modest cost. Especially considering how elegantly these sets have helped me to organize important documents once and for all.

What You Get and How It Works:

The geniuses behind the Ahh Hah! systems have created a series of organizational packets. Each organizational system is designed to help you tame a specific type of paper clutter into a sleek, portable, comprehensive binder. You provide the three-ring binder and the paper clutter; Ahh Hah! provides the organizational system.

Each Ahh Hah! packet contains a series of durable, pre-printed organizational tabs, along with several color-printed informational sheets. The informational sheets include a binder front cover, back cover, and ready-to-personalize spine label, as well as a Table of Contents. In addition, each packet includes several sheets of tips and tricks on getting your paperwork under control and INTO the binder. You get to choose a 3-ring presentation-style binder in the size that will fit your pile of paperwork; Ahh Hah! provides what you’ll need to make it work.

The three systems I received in exchange for my honest review are for medical records, children’s records, and home records. Each was professionally printed, and durably constructed of quality materials. It took me a few hours of initial work to set up each binder. Most of that time involved hunting for the papers I thought I’d organized so well, on my own, in the first place. (How wrong I was!)

I’m honestly surprised at how well-thought-out the tabs in each kit are. They include categories I wouldn’t have thought to include in the first place (like Extracurriculars and Day Care/Babysitters in the Children’s Records kit). And for the few cases where I’ve wanted to modify the labels on a tab (for example, replacing “Family History” in the medical records binder with the abbreviation of a chronic condition several of us share), all it took was a few seconds and a permanent marker to make the switch.

But how well does it really work?

In a nutshell, these are the new Packing Cubes of my life: the things I never thought I needed, until I tried them. Now I wonder how I ever got by without them.

In fact, I’m so impressed with the three sets I tried for this review, I’m seriously considering buying the Personal Finance Kit on my own, to try to get those records into better order.

The Children’s Records binder has spaces for everything from birth certificates and immunizations to the girls’ Cookie Sale papers!

Children’s Records

As three quick examples of why you NEED the Children’s Records Organizing Kit:

  • Parents who’ve taken their children overseas (as I recently have) know all about locating birth records in order to apply for passports, then keeping track of the passports themselves.
  • Ditto for parents enrolling their children in public school for the first time, who need to provide a copy of their kids’ immunization records.
  • Or (to give an example that is especially relevant in my life right now) trying to hunt down the order form from last year’s Girl Scout Cookie sale, so we can make repeat customers of every neighbor who bought cookies from Kimmie last time around.

Before I got the Ahh Hah! Children’s Records Organizer Kit, this information would have been stored in three separate places, in three separate rooms of our house! Now,

  • the old cookie forms (those I could locate, anyway!) are filed in the “Extracurriculars” section of the binder.
  • Copies of the girls’ passports and birth certificates are under the “Important Documents” section.
  • And their immunization records – plus their recent state-mandated health screenings from school – are tucked away in the “Medical” section. (In fact, those school reports IMMEDIATELY got put away, vs. getting piled somewhere until I decided where to file them!)

Medical Records

Likewise, the Medical Records Organizer Kit has already saved me countless hours in recent months. As longtime readers might recall, I’ve had more than my share of broken bones that won’t heal and related medical problems. Anyone with a complicated medical history will tell you that keeping a solid paper trail is crucial.

I have one particular unresolved bill with a hospital where I had labs done last fall. When I spent an entire day last November on the phone between the doctor’s office, insurance company, and hospital billing department, I carefully documented every conversation. But when the hospital sent me another bill a month later, I had to scramble to find that original documentation. Why?  Because I couldn’t remember the safe place where I’d filed it away! That search wasted an hour of time.

But as soon as I set up my Medical binder with the Ahh Hah! Medical Records kit, I had a designated place to keep track of those records. Unfortunately, the billing issue in question remains unresolved. But hauling out the paperwork whenever it resurfaces now takes me less than a minute. And having a portable place to store old labwork saves tons of time whenever I go to see a new specialist.

Home Records

The binder I’ve worked with the least so far, beyond initial setup, is the Ahh Hah! Home Records kit. But with summer coming, I already know how much time and effort this binder is going to save me. A single place to file information on tree-trimming, HVAC service, electrical work, and appliance receipts and warranties? Yes please! Not to mention a place to keep the estimates for all my home-improvement wish list items together, all sorted by category.

And even better, should (for example) storm damage leave us scrambling to pull together the receipts, insurance policies, and other records we’ll need to get things repaired, grabbing this binder is a lot easier and faster than emptying a file drawer to pull the pieces together, Ditto for if, heaven forbid, we had to evacuate our home on short notice.

The coolest thing about the Home kit is that it organizes everything by room, NOT by what it is (project estimate, receipt/warranty/instruction manual, etc.). I’ve struggled for years to keep my home records usable, having sorted them by type instead of room. But as soon as I began filing things into the binder by ROOM, suddenly everything made sense in a way it never had before. The end result? I can now lay my fingers on exactly what I need instantly,  rather than having to sift through large folders of stuff each time I need to find a warranty or repair info.

Truly, the fact that these binders are so easy to grab off a shelf is probably their biggest selling point, far as I’m concerned. In a second, you have a wealth of information at your fingertips. With minimal effort to get at what you need, when you need it. You’ve already done the work to organize important documents with the Ahh Hah! kits. After you’ve set things up, all you have to do is grab the binder you need.

Organize important documents throughout your life:

Ahh Hah! makes organizational systems for every pile of papers you can imagine. Their other organizational systems include

    • Personal Finance;
    • Wedding Planning (I have to say, I wish I’d had this – it would have been both cheaper than the wedding-planning record book I purchased, AND less cumbersome than toting both that book AND the binder I ended up making anyway to every wedding-related appointment!);
    • Family Recipes (this would have been super to have at my bridal shower once upon a time, where each guest brought me a family recipe on an index card);
    • Meeting and Event Planning – perfect for those of us who don’t do this every day, but sometimes have to pull it off as if it were second-nature;
    • and even Pet Records!

And several of their kits come in “Long-Tab” versions, to ensure that the tabs are still visible even if you’re filing things in 8.5×11 sheet protectors (which, when you add in the hole-punched edges, measure more like 9×11).

Things to note:

Yes, you do have to provide your own presentation-style binder to go with the Ahh Hah! organizational kits. This is actually a good thing, since you know better than they do what size you’ll need for each one. Besides, if you’re a former teacher (like me), you already have a ton of empty binders lying around the house. I’ve already swapped both Medical Records and Children’s Records into larger binders, as I’ve added more papers.

And yes, technically you COULD make up your own organizational system along these lines, if you really wanted to. But given the quality of the pre-printed materials from the Ahh Hah! folks, I can honestly say that if I’d tried this,

  • it would have taken me several hours to come up with anything near as comprehensive as what they’ve put together;
  • not to mention I then would have had to supply my own file tabs and get them printed up;
  • and even if I’d made my own binder covers/spine labels, mine would have been less durable and less beautiful than the ones included in the kit. Not to mention, they would have taken me hours to create.

The only thing I found lacking in these kits was clear pocket inserts in assorted sizes. (This is something the makers of the Ahh Hah! kits suggest adding on your own, something I figured out before I read it on the suggestions page.) Fortunately, these are not hard to find. Many companies make clear three-ring pocket protectors for everything from photographs to trading cards. Once I purchased some online, I had a place to file the girls’ passports and copies of their health insurance cards. No more hunting for those passports when packing for a trip!

The bottom line:

Ahh Hah! Organizer Kits are the ultimate solution to organize important documents, so you never misplace them again. They will keep your important records save you countless hours hunting for things you misplaced. They will ensure you always know where to put those important papers when they enter your home. And when you need to lay your hands on those papers again, they’ll be right at your fingertips.

If you’ve already calculated your own hourly rate (how much your time is worth based on what your hourly salary/wage is, or how much the services you provide your family are worth if you’re a SAHM), then do the math. Even if you did create your own system, the time and money you invested would be far more than the small cost of buying your own Ahh Hah! kit.

Just save yourself the trouble and buy one (or more!) of these sleek kits. In a few hours, you can organize important documents for the last time, knowing they’ll stay neat and organized for the long haul.

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57 thoughts on “How to Organize Important Documents: My New Secret Weapon”

  1. Nice to meet someone who is as dedicated to organising documents as I am :-). Makes life that much easier in tough situations (like car insurance claims) when you can find the file you need!

    1. Absolutely! I am still filling in the “home organization” one by filing all the new papers in there, but everytime I need something that’s NOT in there yet, it drives me nuts!!!

  2. I definitely need to organize records. I would probably do a better job is there was a prearranged kit and all I had to do was sort the papers.

    1. As much as I like to think I’m queen of organizing, you are absolutely right – it IS easy when the hard work of making up the kit is already done, and all you have to do is put the papers into the binder. You definitely have to try these! 🙂

  3. I didn’t even know there was a company that did this. We have always kept our documents in binders but that’s because I live organizing. I think it’s great for people who normally wouldn’t do this! Great post

  4. After our move, I had to look for my birth certificate and it finally hit me how disorganized my important papers are so this sounds like a great system that I need to try!

    1. OMG yes! You know my pain all too well, then! – having tried this system for several months, I can honestly say it’s 1000% better than my old system, which I THOUGHT was super-organized! 🙂

    1. Haha, know exactly what you mean. This was totally me before – I thought my filing system was so great, but in truth it wasn’t quite cutting it. Having someone else do the hard work of thinking through a better way, and putting the materials together so all I have to do is make up the binders, was truly a game changer – I cannot recommend trying these kits highly enough! 🙂

    1. Haha, been there done that – do give these a try, they may save you hours of hunting down the road when you need something! 🙂

    1. SO glad you liked the article, Christine! I have a few friends who plan to get some of these to help them overhaul their document organization/storage over the next few weeks, as part of their own spring cleaning – hope they work for all of you as well as they have worked for me!

  5. Love this! I’m an organizing freak but I’ll admit I’ve slacked a little recently because I’ve been busy so I’ve just been shoving papers here and there. This sounds like a great way to keep it all together!

    1. Oh, Halley, you sound exactly like me! What you described is exactly how I was before I got these – so far, keeping them up has been loads easier than keeping up the filing systems I used to have (which eventually became more piles of shoved papers than anything else…)

    1. You have got to try them, Michele – I know what a hardworking organized mama you are anyway, but these have even helped ME take my game up a few notches, more than I realized I needed! 😉

  6. We just recently bought a house and it would have been nice to have all of our paperwork in one place instead of searching frantically all around the house! Wonderful idea!

    1. Amen to that – but as my own medical files are proving every day, better late than never! (in other words, not too late to try these!)

  7. Wow, I am so grateful that you shared this with us, you should see my desk and drawers. I will take action this weekend.

    1. Mine totally got overloaded too – I kept thinking that somehow *I* was deficient, but when I tried these folders, I realized that rather my life had outgrown that old system for so many things! I still keep the flex reimbursement/routine medical receipts in a big expander folder, but moving so much to these binders has make a huge difference!

    1. haha I *used* to be like that when i was teaching (only between teaching and research files, we’re talking more like 2 full cabinets just for me, and the equivalent of same for my husband – and that’s not even counting things like housework papers, kids, etc!). But somehow, the filing cabinet system stopped working as well once we had kids – this has definitely reclaimed my sanity and my desktop!

  8. Omg I totally need to get this for my sister’s! I scan everything and name it. So I tend to just ctrl f in a folder when I need to find something and it’s on my phone but that definitely doesn’t work for everyone. So this is awesome

    1. First, I totally love your digital solution (though I admit it wouldn’t work for me) – that is SO cool! Second, yes, do give some of these to your sister ASAP (and even offer to help her set them up some afternoon?) – except for not wanting to insult my SIL, I would totally give some of these to my baby bro, that’s how much I love them!

    1. OMG, yes, the more you can organize BEFORE the move, the easier your life will be! (speaking from experience) – DO give these a try then, they will be a huge help!!!

  9. I never really know WHAT documents to keep and which ones to throw away – lol! I remember when I was moving from my old place, I found documents from 2013…. Like a power bill, that was 100% not important but for SOME REASON, I felt the need to keep it LOL!

    1. Haha I know what you mean – I suspect somewhere in my basement I have electric and phone bills that are from last millennium (ouch!)…

  10. This is such a huge help for me I have been putting off to cleaning off my filing cabinet for a year if not more . These tips are gonna help me so much thank you so much

  11. These look like a great way to keep things organized. I love being organized and bought a large filing cabinet a couple years ago. It has two drawers so one is for business (my husband and I both work from home) and the other for personal. I keep things like our passports and birth certificates in our safe. I can see how these would be handy, though, if you need the information to be portable.

    1. Ah yes, you’re so right, the passports DO belong in the safe…I’m ashamed to admit that even my safes (yes I have more than one) need cleaning out…I believe they’re currently keeping backup disks of my college and grad school coursework safe from fires? lol – SO, if the drawers are working for you, yay! Mine have gotten just out of control, and this set of binder kits has helped me make the info previously filed in said drawers more manageable at last 🙂

  12. I had to laugh because using binders is exactly what Jules does. But one binder for home stuff? We have a entire plastic file box. We have one binder just for all the paperwork related to the tree falling on our house last year!

    1. Haha (ok, NOT haha!) I was thinking of you and your “home accident” when writing this post, dear friend! And you will be proud to know that our renewal contract on our EAB treatment was one of the very first papers I filed in our “home” binder! So, thanks for chiming in on your hubby’s success (mostly) with using binders (and file boxes when not) 🙂

  13. Hi Flossie,

    I had to comment on your post. I love organizing like this. I guess it’s the Virgo in me. Like I mentioned on Facebook, I have stuff in binders but not color coded.

    Now I have an itch to reorganize my binders. 🙂

    Passing this on to other mamas!

    Have a great day!


    1. Thanks so much for the FB share, Cori! Honestly, I’d hoped to have them color-coded, but to be fair, they’re not right now because my on-hand former-teacher selection of colored binders with covers for inserts was limited lol…but someday :)…

  14. I am trying to organize my life these days for the main reason we have to much crap for our tiny place lol.
    So I will have to peek at this and try it out!! Thanks so much!

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