How the Noguchi Filing System seriously cleaned up my clutter

This is a brief explanation of how the Noguchi Filing System helps me keep a clean and tidy desk (at times) without losing track of important and even trivial documents. It works for me, it will work for you. Trust me, it will even save your marriage.

Note: this deals with physical folders, not the ones you have on your computer

If you’re like me you probably end up with a small to medium sized stack of documents on your desk each week that cannot quite be classified in your existing folders. Either the documents are too few in numbers to create a seperate folder or the topic does not really fit your existing folder structure.

This is where the Noguchi Filing System comes in… It does not attempt to classify your documents but gives you and easy way to find them back (if needed). You’ll see that in time you will have set of documents you will need often, and are quick to retrieve and a set of older documents that can be discarded of each year.

It’s simple but effective.

Noguchi Filing System- STEP 1
Step 1
Take at least 20 white and unused letter size envelopes (A4 in Europe)


Noguchi Filing System- STEP 2
Step 2
Cut off the top part – at least 2 inches or 6cm.

Noguchi Filing System- STEP 3
Step 3
Draw one line on each envelope
to act as a guide for writing the topics

Noguchi Filing System- STEP 4
Step 4
As soon as a new category arrives, take an envelope
and write down its topic in max. 3 words.

Stack the envelopes on a shelf at shoulder-height.

When you need stored documents, find the envelope, use it.

Try to place it on the shelf again ASAP,
placing it on the left hand side of all other envelopes.


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