|Photo source: http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/Paperwork.gif|
Now there are several steps to this process. It will get worse before it gets better. Sorry :-(
|Photo source: http://www.lafayettecountysheriffsoffice.com|
Step 2: Once you have gone through your paperwork, and sorted out what needs to be filed, take stock of what you have. This step will help you determine what supplies you are going to need to implement your filing system. Notice that we haven't purchased any supplies yet. I'm a firm believer in the assess first then buy process. :-) Think about the goals of your system and what records you have. Getting out of debt? Maybe you need a separate file box just for bill retention. Have alot of medical issues? Separate box for medical records and bills. I happen to live in a rental that includes a flat utility fee with the rent, so I currently have no utility bills. So I recently revamped my file system to remove the utilities section.
|Photo source: Target.com|
Inside my file boxes, I have hanging folders only. No manilla folders. I don't like manila folders because gravity tends to work against them and they slump down into whatever is holding them. Boo.
For static files on the other hand, I like to use three ring binders with sleeve protectors for documents inside. I have static folders for the following subjects: 1) investments, 2) auto ownership, repair and maintenance, 3) career catalog (more on this later), 4) home ownership, repair and maintenance. Three ring binders let me flip through documents almost like a book, which is nice when I need to find something.
Step 4: File system maintenance. Once you've established a system that works for you, the biggest challenge is keeping it up to date. In my delusional little world, I would file my paperwork every day. Never gonna happen. I basically pile it up until I get into a cleaning frenzy and then I file it all at once. But it works because I know that the paperwork I am looking for is either filed away nicely, or is in the pile waiting to be filed.
Some rules of thumb for file system maintenance:
1) Each file should never be more than about 1 inch thick. More than that, and it is time to either clear out old documents or create sub categories (each in their own hanging folder.)
2) No category should ever be called Miscellaneous. If you can't figure out what category it falls under, perhaps it isn't that important?
3) Stay away from paper clips. Paperclips are fair weather friends. The next thing you know, they've latched onto a new piece of paper and given something important the boot. Use staples (or clam clips) instead.
I leave you with the following inspirational picture from Apartment Therapy:
A few tips:
1) Keep it simple - when I first started filing my paperwork away, my system was too convoluted and I couldn't find anything. If I couldn't use it, I guarantee that my husband wasn't going to use it.
2) Make it fun - I like the boring plastic totes because they stack well and I can see things. But if you want some cute totes or you found and refurbished a great credenza (like Centsational Girl's Credenza: Practical Meets Pretty) - go for it! Trust me, if you think your system is boring and no fun, you will never use it.
3) Periodically clean out old files, otherwise your system will quickly get out of hand. I clean mine out once per year, based on some record retention rules (more on this later).
How about you? Any paperwork nightmares to share? Any great tips?
Have a great day :-)
Stay tuned for more Let's Get Organized!
LGO #4: Record retention - February 9, 2011**
LGO #5: Creating a career catalog - February 16, 2011**
**My life overwhelmed my ability to blog this week, so in an effort to spread good information, I am postponing LGO this week. Even though I love organization, I am disorganized at heart. (Maybe that's why I love organization)