Most people know someone who seems to be so organized they never seem to put any effort into keeping their personal files in order. If you’re not one of those people, follow these ten tips to get a hold of that mountain of paper that has taken over your life and home.
1. Designated place Even if the filing space is limited to one drawer, it must be designated as the place where files are kept in some sort of order. All paper should be funneled in the direction of the designated file storage place and away from flat surfaces around the home. Strict care should be invested in gathering paper that must be kept and throwing away all of the excess.
2. Appropriate supplies Purchase file folders and labels and have enough supplies on hand to keep the file area orderly. Waiting to purchase supplies can cause havoc in a short amount of time. Buy some fun colored folders that will catch your attention.
3. Organized area The area around the file drawer or cabinet must have some easy-to-reach organizers for quick placement of inbound paper. Stacking trays will help define major groupings that can make filing easier. Group paper into meaningful subjects and use enough folders to organize without creating too many topics. Have a recycling container sitting near the area for easy sorting without having to carry anything to another room.
4. Necessary paper Understand what must be kept and eliminate all unnecessary paper. Throw junk mail away when it arrives, and sort bills into an organizer that will gain attention when the bills are due. Separate long-term storage documents from short-term papers that must be accessed easily and quickly. Keep papers that must be addressed this week in a separate place to ensure action is taken.
5. Electronic copies Consider receiving bank statements, credit card statements, and utility bills as electronic versions. Store only documents that cannot be accessed online. Consder scanning documents so you don’t have to save paper copies.
6. Personal system The most effective filing system is one that is designed by the person who will use it. The system must be designed for easy access in an order that is logical to the user. Alphabetizing may work for some files while date order is more useful for others. Learn from the suggestions of others, but make certain that the final product is useful to the person who must access the information.
7. Lockbox Some documents are irreplaceable and must be treated with care. Some people prefer the safe deposit box at the bank, and others would rather have a lockbox or safe in the house. Legal documents should be kept in a place that is safe from natural disasters and prying eyes.
8. Available shredder Keep a working paper shredder next to the recycling bin in the filing area. Better to overuse the shredder than to not have one. Shred every piece of paper with personal information including the name and address of anyone living in the house. Protect all personal information and shred anything that is removed from the files.
9. Flow control Whenever paper enters the house, file or throw away each piece without setting it down on a flat surface. Receipts should have a separate folder for easy placement when returning to the house. Coupons should be filed away for easy access when leaving the house. Incorporate the flow of paper in the house into the filing system to prevent clutter on flat surfaces in other areas of the home.
10. Maintenance activities In December, set aside an afternoon to create new files for the coming year and purge unnecessary paper from your files. Remember to shred anything that contains personal information. Review the lockbox contents and replace any legal documents that must be updated. Shorter periods of time throughout the year should be used to keep the files clean.
I hope you enjoyed this guest posting from James Adams, a writer and reviewer of Dell cartridges, at an online store where shoppers can buy buy printer cartridges. I’d love to hear how you’ve set up your filing system.
Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom,