Organization Quandry - Need Ideas

I'm attempting to get my office set up in my tiny house. I'm getting rid of a lot of stuff, but I just can't bring myself to dispose of some of the old writing I did when I was younger. Most of that stuff is in large three-ring binders that take up A LOT of shelf space. I'm trying to figure out how to hang on to this stuff without overloading my already overloaded bookcases.

I've thought about just scanning it all into my computer and saving it on my external HD, but my scanner is a flatbed scanner and that would take FOREVER.

I've also considered using a system similar to the one we use at the law office where I work. Using prongs and a two-hole punch, I could bind them into file folders. This is probably the way I'm heading, but I am concerned about how well the file folders will hold up.

Do y'all have any better ideas? ANY would be appreciated.

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Comb Binding ?

Takes less space than binders and is a bit more permanent than loose-leaf
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

That could be better

I'll consider that, ygor - thanks :^)


If you still want to consider scanning, you could try some a print shop or the print depart of an office supply store. Many modern commercial printers have the capability to auto-feed paper and produce a pdf output. I’d call around. The nice side benefit is then you would be able to keep backups and never lose your work.

$ ?

That would be pretty expensive, though wouldn't it? If not, that's a thought too.


you can pick up a scanner with auto-feed pretty cheap these days. Or ask to borrow one if it is only going to be a first time mass-scanning effort.

HP Scanjet 5590 -- $270 list
Canon Pixma MX7600 -- an All-in-One inkjet printer with an Auto Document Feed -- $300 list

An All-in-One (AIO) unit might be worth investing into for a home office.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)


Thanks for looking it up,though ygor. That's just TOO much. I have an AIO, but it's still just a flatbed scanner (although I do love it very much).

Don't know

Copies can be expensive, but, since you aren’t outputting paper and using toner, I’d think it _should_ be cheaper to output a pdf. The only way to know is to call. If it is way expensive, you can always do it a bit at a time or wait until copy places come to their senses and make scanning to a pdf cheaper :-)

You also have to consider the cost of the space the binders are taking up. I have a small house as well and every inch of bookcase or shelving matters. You are buying back that shelf space for the number of years you are in that small house. Whatever you do with digitizing, I’m enough of a pack rat to think you should keep your writing. It is a part of who you were when you wrote it.

very true

I was planning on running by Staples on the way home anyway, so I'll ask them while I'm there. Thanks again for the input!

Well duh

Total brain fart. My office has an autofeed scanner and I have a key to the office. Going to go the scan route since I know now that I can do it for free. Thanks y'all for your suggestions. :^)


We archive like your law firm, except we use the 8 1/2 " long fasterners which fits in the top and bottom hole of your already punched paper from the 3 ring binder. Just find a cover and back using old manilla folders (then you have a tab too to write what is in the archive) or something else, punch those too and you are set!

Here is what I am talking about:

Or Office Depot site item #623547 Office Depot brand paper fasteners 8 1/2" by 3" Pack of 50 for $3.99

Best of luck!
nay nay

sturdy folders for long-term storage or use

I use heavy-duty gusseted pressboard folders with the two-prong fasteners on each cover. I bought a box almost 10 years ago and have reused the folders each several times and they are still holding up with no ripping and the prongs are all still intact. They are not cheap but considering how long they have held up they were worth the money. I first used them to organize documents as a submittal for a multi-year divorce/custody battle. They held up through all the lawyers going through them repeatedly. Then I used them to organize bills - now that my bills and records are almost all online I use them to organize things like manuals, warranties, etc. Besides their sturdiness, one of the other things I really like about them is that because the covers are heavy pressboard, they stay upright on a shelf with no floppiness.

This has turned into a massive project

I've got SO MANY old papers it's insane. I spent all last night dividing up the 20 years worth of writing I've done into categories and then into scan or bind piles. I'm proud of myself that the majority has ended up in the scan piles. But I'm not done yet, and by the time I am done, the Staples Copy/Print center people are going to know I'm nuts when I hand over the things I'm binding. Oh well. One way or another, this is going to SIGNIFICANTLY open up some shelf space in my office.

Thanks again for all your suggestions. :^)


For items that are not that important, you can use spiral binding. Spiral binding will hold up better than Comb binding. If there are any items that are extra special, I would suggest a stab binding, This is a great way to bind up old papers by hand in an attractive way.

Do you have a digital

Do you have a digital camera? What about taking photos of them? I know it would still take longer than using file folders or spiral binding, but it should be quicker than scanning page by page. I don't know how small you write, however I was able to use our digital camera at work for taking a photo of the telephone line list that someone had handwritten in the equipment room and then download the file to the computer and link it to a contact in Outlook so the department could access it from any office. Saved a bit of typing and if anything happens to the original list, we have a backup.