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Creating a Paper Management System – Step 4

Creating Archives

Before you start:

Identify a space in the basement, garage, attic that will serve as the Archives. The Archives are intended for items that you do not need to access on a frequent basis or will keep for a specified amount of time. There should be adequate space for multiple boxes. I do not recommend renting storage space. It is costly and often encourages us to hold onto more paper than we need.

You will need a pen, marker, file folders and file boxes. Label a box: Archives.

Next, create 2 file folders for each of the following categories:

  • Legal
  • Medical
  • Monthly Bills
  • House related
  • Warranties/instructions
  • Financial
  • Insurances
  • Personal
  • Animals
  • Miscellaneous

 Divide and Conquer

Your next goal is to separate the contents of your backlog boxes into Current or Archive. From under the work surface, select a box of sorted backlog paper and place it on your work surface.

Sort the contents of the box into two piles: Current or Archive.

If you find yourself having difficulty sorting, ask yourself the following question:

When will I need this information?

If you need the information frequently: on a daily, weekly, monthly basis - that could be Current. Information that you will need at a later date - NOT might need - or you may be required to keep for legal reasons will be placed in the Archives.

Here is an example: Warranties and Instructions

Select the Warranties and Instructions box of sorted backlog paper. Place it on your work surface. Review all of the Instructions and discard those for which you no longer have the need or no longer have the item. Review the Warranties to determine whether they have expired and discard accordingly.

Place the instructions and warranties you don't need on a daily basis into a Warranties/Instructions folder. Place this folder into the Archive box. Record the name of the folder and the date on the outside of the box.

Place the remaining Warranties/Instructions in another file folder. Return it to the Warranties/Instructions box. Place the box under the table. Stretch a little. Take a drink of water.

For each box of sorted backlog paper that now resides under your worktable, you will sort the contents into Current and Archive. Select the next box to sort. As you review the contents, determine which papers are Current and which are Archival. Place the paper into the corresponding file folders. Store the Archive folder in the Archive box. Record the name of the folder and the date on the outside of the box.

Return the Current folder into the original box and place the box under the worktable.

Once you have completed this process, congratulate yourself. You are now ready to create your Personal File System.


While you are working on sorting the backlog of paper, you are still responsible for paying the current bills, signing permission slips and keeping track of your medical appointments.