Do you dread managing paperwork? I know I do. Slimming a mountain of unsorted paper must be one of the least appealing household activities, right up there with cleaning the toilet — but only once it has gotten out of control. A streamlined filing system which works well for you is simple to maintain in seconds every day and, best of all, means you’ll never have to confront a tower of paper . And since today so much of our record keeping happens online, it’s just as important to get those electronic files in order.
The eight measures that follow will lead you from paper tragedy into some simple, easy-to-maintain, effective filing system which leaves no thing unsorted.
Charlie Barnett Associates
1. Collect all of your paperwork. The first step is to round up all of the paper that has to be dealt with: files, piles, boxes and bins — whatever you have got. Pour yourself a big cup of java and dive in, focusing on pitching unneeded paper and then sorting the rest into general categories.
It’s really important that you do this first, because often we file and store things we don’t desire, which only creates more work for ourselves. Sort at the moment and you’ll have less filing to do later.
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2. Pick broad categories for your desktop computer file. Maintaining a small file on your desktop is a terrific way to stay ahead of paper-sorting chaos. The concept is to label your desktop with a few (no more than 12) very broad categories which you could easily and quickly pop papers into. For instance, you may have files for home, work, finances, private and to-do tasks.
Think about this as a temporary holding space and get in the habit of using it every day. After a week or any time it’s suitable for you, you can move the contents of those general files for your filing cabinet.
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3. Choose a small filing cabinet. How big is your filing cabinet? After purging old newspapers, you will likely wind up with lots of extra room. Don’t attempt to fill it! With so many of our records moving digital now (see step 6 for more on that), it will not make sense to store a lot of paper. Keep your system small and manageable by providing yourself less distance to fill.
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4. Be consistent with labeling. Before beginning, it’s critical to make a plan for the visual organization of your files. It’s not just what goes into them that matters — messy handwriting plus a mess of multicolored folders may actually make things harder to find. If you have nice handwriting, select one pencil to use on all of your labels; if notget a label maker. You won’t regret it!
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5. Produce primary files and subsections. Now it’s time to get to work making your files. Have a look at the sections you made to your desktop and set up the same sections in your document drawer. Then produce files for more specific items within each section. For instance, your House section may include Insurance, Mortgage and Repairs.
A note on color choice: You could stick with one color for each of your hanging files or color code the main sections. The decision is yours — the important thing is to be more deliberate about your pick from the beginning and stick with it. I enjoy peeking in my file drawer and seeing all of the neat rows of matching yellow folders. It immediately makes me feel more organized.
Jennifer – Rambling Renovators
6. Give wandering papers a house. Even after submitting, a particular amount of paper will resist categorization. Our lives do not fit neatly into the same categories, so it’s only natural you will have to create some files which are uniquely yours. I have files for my blog, pet hens and traveling notes; certainly not everybody requires those.
In Home Interior Design
7. Produce a digital filing system. Just like paper files, electronic files have a tendency to get overstuffed and unruly over time. Set aside some time to purge your computer of unneeded files. It’s not enjoyable, but it is going to make things considerably easier in the future, and it might even make your computer run quicker. When you’re completed, decorate your background files as best you can — use the exact same method as for your paper files, but tailor it to what should be stored on the computer.
Now would also be a fantastic time toset up paperless billing and statements as well as an automatic backup system (for example, on an external hard drive or at the cloud).
See more ideabooks about going paperless
Diane Bergeron Interiors
8. Periodically offload archives. To maintain your filing systems running smoothly, it’s important to do some maintenance from time to time. It does not have to be frequently — I do mine once a year around tax time. Just flip through your files and toss anything clearly out of date. (For all of the nitty-gritty on which to keep and for how long, assess this IRS page) If specific sections are bulging and you need to keep the contents, move them to a document box and store the box somewhere secure but from the way, such as on a high shelf in the closet.