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Creating a Personal Filing System

Dear Jo the Clutterbuster:

I am surrounded by a fortress  of  piles. I never can find what I want when I need it.  I know I need a filing system, but how do I create one that works for me  and that I will actually use?

Sincerely,

Pile-r not file-r

Dear Pile-r:

Until a big wind blows through your office or the piles fall over from their own weight, you may be able to use piles instead of files to manage your paper. HOWEVER, files are intended to be places where anyone (not just you) can 'Find' information.

It is almost impossible to maintain files of paper you MIGHT need. (See January blog) Files are not intended to be places where you 'store' paper. Those are called Archives. (Re-read February blog.)  Files are not for articles you might read, business cards you might need, health warnings you might heed. Files are intended to be an organized approach to locating what you need when you need it.

There are many books written on how to create the 'perfect' filing system. You and your filing needs are unique. We must create a Personalized Filing System that, not only matches your needs, but you will use.

Personalized: based on your unique needs, interests, information, lifestyle, family.

Filing: - means active, not static. Filing is intended for Finding, Referring, Retrieving.

System: categories and files organized for on-going use.


WARNING:

STEP AWAY FROM THE PAPER AND REPEAT AFTER ME:

Before I file any paper, folder, brochure, receipt, I will ask myself:

How will I use this information (on a daily, weekly, monthly basis)?

If you can't readily answer that question, that particular piece of paper may belong in the Archive box or the recycling bin.

Before you start:

You will need hanging files, file folders, a pen, and a permanent marker.

Obtain 2 plastic file boxes or just 2 empty copy paper boxes. Think of them as your 'temporary file drawers'.  Place these boxes on your work surface.

Create a hanging file and label for each category listed below. Hang these files in your 'temporary file drawer'

Legal
Medical
Monthly Bills
House-related
Warranties/instructions
Financial
Insurance
Personal
Tax related
Miscellaneous
Memorabilia, photos (to be archived)
Other?

Don't forget a trashcan and a recycling box.