Wednesday, September 2, 2009

5 Ways to Handle Filing

Paperwork. Did you know paperwork is one of the biggest struggles in organization? Why is that?

1. Volume!
Some of this is just a numbers game. When you get a giant wad of mail every day, a pile of graded homework every week, even the news delivered, well, it just becomes a matter of numbers. As in way too many numbers.

2. The Ick Factor
Let’s see; bills, filing, piles of meaningless junk mail….. Who even wants to face it all?

3. The lack of expertise
I’m sorry; I’m not a CPA, are you? Not having expertise in accounting can get us in trouble.

These are the systems I have had success with. See if some of these will work for you.

1. The 3-Ring Binder
I am a 3-Ring Junkie. This is how I use them for organizing paperwork.

a. Receipts
Take a binder and add a bunch of plastic sheet protectors. Type categories onto the top of sheets of paper. One category for each page and slip them into the sheet protectors. Filing receipts is not my idea of a good time. But I keep a pretty container on the bookshelf by my desk and I drop in receipts as I go. When I am in the mood (not often,) I grab the container and the binder, head to the living room to watch TV and file. It is actually pleasant. Try it!
Category examples include: Gift Shops, Gas, Post Office, etc.

b. Important paperwork
Copies of everything important, think birth certificates and the insurance on the house, are in a binder in file pockets (not plastic sleeves) for each category. It can even fit in the safe. Much easier to go through than a file system. And hey, if there is an emergency, pick up your binder and go!

c. Bills
I love my 3 ring bill binder. I keep a month at a glance calendar in there. Real easy. Pockets, expense sheets, you name it. And, of course, all the current bills.

d. Warrantees and Such
Owner’s manuals and warrantees are all in their own binder. In 5 minutes you can find the “how to” guide for the weed wacker.

2. The Sub-Category System
For the things that I file in a cabinet, I use a sub-category system. Each category has its own hanging file and the specific files go inside of it. “Volunteer Work” will have several different file folders in it based on the different projects I have going. At my work, I have several different categories, like “licensing,” “writing” and “website.” By creating category pockets, you take a lot of the searching out of filing. That makes it easier and more pleasant which leads to greater COMPLIANCE. Well, at least some of the time, right?

Try any one of these tools and see how much it can clean up your filing and organizing world.

What works for you, what do you struggle with in filing your life? Add a comment below!


  1. OK, I have a 2 drawer metal cabinet in my little girl's room (it use to be the office/computer room before my pleasant surprise came along)I need to get rid of it but it is filled with stuff-bills,manuals,warranties,medical papers,insurance stuff,individual family papers,school reports,resumes,etc.I'm on a budget and I need to come up with a system that would look good on a bookcase shelf. I like the 3 ring binder ideal.Any other ideals out there?

  2. I am a big three ring binder user. I like them because they are very managable, I can use them in different rooms of the house or even take them with me if needed.

    These are the ones I use. I have one for manuals and warranties. Another for the kids, including all their school info. Another for the year. In that I keep primarily all the receipts and tax information that will be needed at the end of the year. It also reduces slippage. "Did I already pay that bill?" I also have one called "important papers." This includes passports and birth certificates, etc. These can be kept in a three ring or in a safe. Pick out some binders in colors you like. Stapes has great ones. And get the sizes that fit your needs. Important Papers will probably be much thinner than your annual book for bills and receipts. And by the way, I use dividers for each of the binders. Imagine this in your daughter's file. "Ballet." "School." "Things to save." "Basketball team." For the annual binder I have categories like "Medical/ Dental" and "Phone Bill."

    Give it a go! It's cheap and great for transporatbility. And can be a lot more pleasing to the eye than those metal cabinets.

    Thanks for writing in!