Doing the filing at home can seem like an overwhelming task, but with these simple tips you’ll be up and running in no time.
- Before you start your filing journey, make sure you’ve got somewhere to keep your papers tucked away. If you can fit everything into one drawer, that’s great. But if you’ve got a lot of documents, consider buying a filing cabinet.
- It might also be useful to get yourself a label maker . Of course you could just stick with a pen, but a #HomeFilingSystem has to be used by everyone in the house, so if you’ve got bad handwriting, printed labels will make life easier for other people.
- Some folks recommend using coloured folders to keep files in. That’s fine and dandy, but make sure to buy enough folders in advance – that way you won’t run out of a particular colour and have to start mixing files together.
Heed this piece of advice from Leo Babauta at the Zen Habits blog:
Reduce before organizing. The first rule to organizing is that you should eliminate the unnecessary before organizing at all. If you’ve got a filing drawer that’s overflowing, or stacks of paper that need filing, it’ll take forever to organize – and even then, it’ll be hard to find stuff.
Once you’ve reduced, it’s time to begin putting things away. Each household is different, but over at Plan and Organize Life we found a good list of filing categories to use as a starting point. It’s been put together by Tracy, a stay-at-home mum who looks after two young children.
You’ll need active and archive files. Archive is for all the stuff you’ve dealt with or don’t need that often. Active is everything else. Here are some of her top-level active categories:
Of course you’ll have sub-categories, so under financial you’d have bank statements, credit card bills and possibly mortgage documents too. When you’re done with a document, pop it into the archive. (That could be in the same folder as the active, just split using a subject divider, or it can be in a different set of files. Whatever works best for you.)
Finally, remember that a filing system isn’t just a way to store things, it’s supposed to help you get things done. At its best, it will help you manage your day and your time and free up your mind and your memory to work on what’s important.