Organizing Your Idea Files with Hanging File Folders

Idea Files
home idea files

I’ve mentioned before that I love magazines. To me, flipping through a magazine is entirely different that browsing the internet, and even though I’ve been content to give up my paper books in favor of my Kindle, I’m not ready to let go of my magazine habit just yet.

That said, I’m not a fan of the clutter that comes from having even a couple of subscriptions over time, and so I’ve always used idea files to organize my favorite articles, recipes, crafts and decorating ideas from magazines. I simply tear out any page that catches my attention (which means the people I share my magazines with miss out on a few of the best ideas, but I leave plenty behind as well!) and add it to my idea file.

I’ve used expanding accordion folders for idea files before, but for our larger collections, like the one we put together while designing and building our home, we use hanging file folders instead, assigning one category to each folder. Using an idea files was much easier than trying to dog-ear a dozen pages in a dozen different magazines for each room in our home, so that it was easy to  find our favorite ideas for the kitchen or bedroom or toy storage or whatever we were looking for!

Idea Files
craft idea files

Recently I created a craft idea file for my husband (who is a stay-at-home dad). He doesn’t mind doing crafts with the girls as long as he doesn’t have to find the ideas or hunt down the supplies, so I created a file of fall crafts, printing out instructions from various blogs and including all of the necessary supplies.

I added paper, wax paper, paper bags and other flat supplies right in the hanging file folders and then added a basket with things like googly eyes, glue and scissors. It’s been nice for both of us to be able to just pull out a ready-to-go project rather than trying to think up something on the spot.

Idea Files
recipe idea files

You could also use hanging file folders to organize your recipe ideas. Although I use Plan to Eat for my menu planning, I don’t add every recipe idea I come across to my online recipe book unless I actually add it to our menu plan because I tend to be generous about bookmarking or tearing out recipes that catch my attention even though we may never actually try them.

I had the opportunity to try these Smead Tuff Hanging File Folders with Easy Slide Tabs, and I really like them. They’re thicker and sturdier than traditional hanging file folders, and the tabs themselves definitely live up to the Tuff name as well. With the new easy slide technology, you simply pop your tab into place and then slide it into position. I’ll admit I had some trouble getting the tabs to slide at first, but once I figured out the secret through trial and error, I was sold.

Do you use idea files to organize and archive your ideas and inspiration?