Do you feel like you have what seems like a million pictures, statements, bills, tax documents, receipts and certificates lying around?
You try to organize them on the fly, but it still seems like they are never in the right place and while you think you have a good grip on their whereabouts, when you need a particular thing, you can’t seem to find it.
Here are some tips for setting up and organizing a home filing system.
How to Set Up a Home Filing System for Papers
Start by gathering all your papers and anything that you want organized and put them in one pile.
Separate them out into 4 separate categories; stuff you are throwing out/shredding, stuff that requires action, archives and working files.
- Throw out- stuff that you no longer need or want
- Stuff that requires action- bills, statements that are asking for your replies, etc.
- Archives- marriage and birth certificates, old photos, old medical files, insurance, old receipts for large purchases
- Working files- current receipts, new medical files, credit card statements
File away anything that does not require your immediate use such as the archives and working files.
Make a separate center for your action files.
It is a good idea to keep them in a place that is easily accessible such as near the coffee making or phone in your kitchen. It needs to be seen as you go about your day so you won’t forget to take action. Consider placing more sections in this with your items that need action based on what kind of action you need to take. For instance, you may categorize by “to do” now, “to do” next week, “phone calls that need to be made” and so on.
Depending on what you have to file or organize, you may want to take different action on each item.
Here are some suggestions for common paper clutter:
Kids drawings, report cards, etc.: File the report cards in your archives and find a way to do a rotating display on the artwork.
Daily Mail- Make sure to deal with it right away. Don’t leave it to pile up or it will get lost and you might miss out on actions you need to take resulting in past due bills or missing a good opportunity. You can also make sure you get less junk mail to deal with by calling the FTC’s phone number to stop it at 1-888-5-OPT-OUT.
Newspapers, newsletters and magazines- Don’t have a large place to put them or you will think you have more room to store things. Instead, get a small tray that is not deep to place them in. when it’s full, it is time to go through it and either cut out articles you want to keep or toss them in the recycling bin.
Take out menus, phone numbers, business cards- These should be kept in their own file. This way, you have easy access to them when you need them and won’t have to go hunt them down. A good way to do this is with some clear pocketed inserts that you can often find at sports memorabilia stores that are made for holding baseball cards. Keep them in a 3 ring binder that is easy to thumb through when you need to find that information.