If you’re like most people, part of your filing system includes stacks of paper. Maybe these are part of your “to be filed” system. Or maybe stacks of paper are your entire filing system.
If you struggle in dealing with all the paper in your life, you’re far from alone. Becoming organized with your files and papers doesn’t require a complicated system. You simply need to develop good habits so you can have a place for everything.
Try this system for keeping your filing organized:
1. Reduce first. This first step will eliminate much of your challenge. There’s no point in organizing or filing anything that should be tossed in the trash.
- Go through all of your unfiled papers, one at a time. Throw out as much as you can and file the rest.
2. Use a simple filing system. A simple, alphabetical filing system seems to work well for everyone. There’s no reason to over-think this step. Just create a file and label it. Put them in your file drawer alphabetically.
3. File everything immediately. Go through your entire pile of papers and file them. In the future, file any papers as soon as you get your hands on them.
- If it’s a bill, pay it and then file it. If it’s something that just needs to be filed, then file it. If it’s no longer needed, toss it in the trash.
- The key is to never create a stack of papers that you plan to deal with in the future. Just deal with them right away to save a lot of aggravation.
- Piles of paper reach a critical point where they become too intimidating to deal with. They’re distracting and create stress. They’re also inefficient if you need to find something.
4. Keep all the necessary materials readily available. Always have spare folders on hand. If you need to file something, but need to create a new folder, you’re going to start a pile if you run out of folders. Have spare filing materials ready and waiting.
5. Try to reduce your files over time. With the right approach, you can greatly reduce the number of documents you’re filing each month.
- Many things can be stored on your computer or online. Check out the “cloud” programs offered by many websites for storing documents.
- You can probably find all of your banking statements and recurring bills (like utilities) online for several years, too.
- Most reference materials, such as software manuals, can be found online. There’s not much that can’t be found with a quick search of the web.
- Keep digital records of your contact lists, ideas, logs, bills, and household budget.
- Every time you get a new piece of paper, ask yourself if you really need to keep a hardcopy or is it available online?
- Maybe you can scan it and store it on your computer. Ask yourself if you really need the document at all.
Getting your filing system under control is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It makes finding your papers much easier when you need to retrieve them. It also eliminates a lot of clutter from your workspace and your mind.
Stacks of paper are stressful. Get these stacks of paper out of your life and you’ll feel and perform better. You’re also helping the environment when you find a way to reduce and recycle all of the unnecessary paper in your life.
We simply no longer require copies of every single item that comes along. You’ll be amazed by how much better you feel when you file away your papers immediately.