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Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
Paper Doll Adjusts the Vertical Hold: Space-Saving File Solutions

When we talk about organizing our paperwork, we usually think of employing horizontal space: desktop file boxes, traditional filing cabinets, hanging file milk crates stacked on the floor or arrayed along windowsills and counters, and so on. Even my beloved tickler file,

which can be stored vertically, is usually maneuvered onto a desktop or into an in-tray.

Sure, there's always some lip-service paid to using open filing on shelves, such as how medical and dental offices shelve patient file jackets. And, of course, for reference and financial information, in particular, we discuss using three-ring binders to collate and contain paper.

Still, all of these options require horizontal space on floors, desks, and counters. We replace the cluttered stacks and piles with neat systems that nonetheless co-opt a similar amount of real estate on the same floors, desks and counters. It's tidy. It's systematic. And it still leaves no room for doing a waltz or tango around the room.

The bulk of our reference paperwork will probably always need to take up some floor space. Even those three-ring binders need bookshelves, and most of us will find it easier to bring in a free-standing bookshelf than to try build our own into the walls. But the good news is that there's an overlooked alternative for maintaining action files, handy reference and the other types of papers that tend to take up space in our desktop file boxes and file risers: vertical space!

We're all, even Paper Doll, guilty of forgetting to maximize vertical space. We display our shoes on the floor when we could use hanging shoe organizers on the backs of doors. We fill our drawers with children's items and gadgets and our garages with piles of sports equipment when there are superior vertical solutions like Gear Pockets and Simply Stashed:

available directly from Christy Designs (at which Paper Doll readers get a 10% discount for using the code BESTRESULTS) or from www.OnlineOrganizing.com.

Today, in hopes of freeing up some space for impromptu tangoing, we're going to look at some great paper-related vertical storage solutions.


The Container Store's Translucent Cascading Letter File Tote combines vertical storage with portability for an appealing small-scale filing solution.

The tote measures 13 3/8" wide x 1 1/2" deep (when closed) x 10" high (when closed) or 33 1/4" high (when hanging open). The sturdy polypropylene pockets are colorful, but just translucent enough to offer a peek at the contained documents.

Each pocket bears a tab for describing the contents, similar to the labels on traditional hanging folders, while whatever interior (manila or colorful) folders selected can be labeled separately. The front pocket (when hanging) has mini-pockets for essentials like business cards, coins or stamps, and when fully closed and arranged for portability, the outer case bears a pocket for quick retrieval of parking passes or ID cards.

When open, the reinforced grommet allows for the tote to hang from any hook, and the rainbow of pockets, contents secure within, simply cascade downward. With the depth at only 1 1/2 inches, any yard-high area of clear wall space will suffice. Just decide whether you'd rather opt to hang it for standing or seated use and position your hook accordingly.

On the down side, to maintain durability and portability, there are only six pockets, and the red-orange-yellow-green-blue-violet theme might not be to everyone's tastes. However, this small size makes it perfect for time-limited projects like tax planning or college applications, where documents must be kept together but also remain portable.

The Translucent Cascading Letter File Tote retails for about $15.


Scholastic's File Organizer Pocket Chart, designed for traditional classroom use, also offers practically flat file and paper storage for home-school classrooms, cubical offices, home offices, and family information centers (in pantries, mudrooms and kitchen-adjacent areas). The ten letter-sized pockets measure 14.7" wide and are suitable for use as in-boxes, or kids could keep them next to their study areas, with one pocket for each class or extracurricular activity.

Weighing in at only about 8 ounces, the blue File Organizer Pocket Chart is made of a flexible plastic, and the reinforced grommets make it easy to "install" on hooks, pegboards, doors or walls in under ten seconds.

The File Organizer Pocket Chart can be found at Amazon, Scholastic's Teacher Store, and various office and teaching supply stores for $10 to $15.

Educational Insights makes a similar product, the Space Place Classroom Organization Center. The washable red nylon organizer can be rolled or folded for easy storage between projects. It has three heavy-duty grommets and can be hung just as Scholastic's File Organizer Pocket Chart, above, but has twelve 7" deep file folder-accommodating pockets instead of ten.


The lightweight 10.5 ounce organizing caddy measures 14" wide and 55" high. Each pocket has its own clear label holder to enable insertion of labels (of which 36 blank labels are included), though traditional label maker tape will adhere to the rayon pockets, as well.

Because the organizer is made of rollable, foldable nylon, it not only works for the uses previously discussed, but would also be an excellent choice for mobile professionals like regional managers, traveling nurses, pharmacy supervisors and other professionals who rotate among multiple service locations.

The Space Place Classroom Organization Center can be ordered directly from Amazon, teaching and office supply stores, and ToysandGamesOnline.com, with prices ranging from $11 to $18.

If you're looking for a smaller version of the above items, perhaps to help a pre-schooler "organize" his or her art projects and coloring books, www.OnlineOrganizing.com carries the EZ Pocket Hanging Project Organizer. The 100% cotton canvas organizer is hunter green and measures 16" wide by 44" high. The five pockets are wide enough to accommodate both letter and legal sized files and papers.

There are just two reinforced grommets at the top for hanging, and each pocket has adhesive-backed clear label holders. (Blank labels are included with each kit.) The EZ Pocket Hanging Project Organizer runs about $27.95.


For those seeking the light-weight convenience and slim depth of the above options but a wider surface area, Smethport Organization Center Pocket Chart fits the bill.

The durable, washable blue nylon pocket chart has 27 letter-sized pockets arrayed in three columns of nine pockets each. Each nylon pocket has its own smaller translucent plastic pocket for holding dry-erase cards (included with the package) or index cards up to 3" high.

The Organization Center Pocket Chart measures 40" high x 37 1/2" wide, can be found at Amazon and teaching supply stores, and retails for about $25.

All of the above options are lightweight and (relatively) portable, but if you're ready to commit to a stable filing system, there's one more alternative to view.


Professional organizers have been buzzing over RackitFile, which presents a serious vertical filing option.

This drawer-less filing system mounts on solid vertical surfaces and juts out from the wall farther than the other solutions covered above, but has multiple benefits to outweigh its heftier profile. Rackitfile is based on the proprietary Walfile System, which uses a combination of vertical and horizontal space to double the depth of files, yielding 12 inches of filing space in six inches of actual depth.

The Rackitfile's Walfile System begins with the mounting of a durable steel frame with 22 laddered rungs for hanging a full set of letter or legal-sized files. The Rackitfile can be mounted on most vertical surfaces via the enclosed wood/particle board screws and what the company calls "the best drywall anchors on the market". The kit includes a mounting template with detailed instructions.

Once mounted, the Rackitfile extends 6 inches from the wall. Although the steel frame is only 12 3/4", once all hanging files are loaded, the entire system measures 21 inches in height. Far sturdier than the other products we've reviewed, if mounted with the specialized drywall anchors, the weight rating for the whole unit is 90 pounds.

Rackitfile can be purchased directly from the manufacturer. One kit, including shipping, retails for $24.98 CDN (about $28.92 US), and the company offers bulk discounts for purchasing 3, 5 or 15 units.


These are just a sampling of the educational and office supply tools available for reducing your horizontal footprint and making use of your vertical space. When your real estate is at a premium, think about filing up, up and away!

posted on: 7/12/2011 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper

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Discuss This Post

by Nanette Duffey... @PiggyBankPixie on 7/12/2011 4:02:00 PM:

Great tips for going vertical with this week's post. Being "vertically challenged" in the height department, I frequently have to adapt organizing products to fit my into my petite sized world. One of my favorite products for that helps use vertical space is the Smead's Desk Free Hanging Organizer Case to go along with your great list of options above.

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 7/12/2011 4:29:04 PM:

Thanks, Nanette! Yes, Smead had that one and Pendaflex has another, and I found some interestingly-colored ones, more like the classroom flat-panels, at Container Store, more suited for magazines and documents. There will *definitely* be a sequel!

by John Trosko @johntrosko on 8/14/2011 1:18:56 PM:

I usually don't like products that attach to the wall because they look flimsy and the big clean up after it's on the floor isn't work the time. But I like some of your suggestions, particularly the RackItFile! John aka OrganizingLA

by Julie Bestry (Paper Doll) on 8/14/2011 2:51:06 PM:

Thanks, John. I agree, some products don't work as well in reality as they do conceptually, but it's always fun evaluating them to find the items that will work best for clients. Thanks for chiming in!

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Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles

by Julie Bestry

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Julie Bestry, President of Best Results Organizing in Chattanooga, TN, is a Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker and author. Julie helps overwhelmed individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems.

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