Files here, files there, files everywhere! There is so much paper to manage, and all kinds of files. Action files, financial files, tickler files, household records files, reference files, computer files. The tricky part about files is you have to set up a system that fits your unique needs. Whatever advice you look at, you have to tweak until it works for you. (That’s the tricky part about time management too!) Your goal: to easily find what you need when you need it.
Action Files-a vertical holder can provide easy access to these working files.
Headings I use in my system:
- To File
- Other folders I frequently use
More possible action file headings:
- top priority
- to read
In front of this file I keep a legal pad for notes on projects, and one for idea capture.
I have a separate system of project files in a wire step file holder. Since these sometimes change, I numbered them 1 – 6, but find I need a descriptive label too. In front of that is a plastic folder that holds my value statement and an outline of what I do, why I do it, and the features and benefits of each project. My project evaluation form is also here. I keep a project master list in Google Drive and print it out for my paper planner tool for the weekly review.
Reference File and Archive-a file cabinet for records that are accessed less frequently. This includes financial, medical, automobile and property information. Grab a copy of the File Headings I use for my file system.
Important Papers for a Grab and Go File-There are some very important files you would not want to lose in a fire. This subset of the Reference File contains vital records, insurance, income tax, and investments. See Leaving a Legacy for a free printable roadmap that details where to find all of this important information.
Household Records File-to keep information about home appliances, electronics, home maintenance and repairs.
Tickler File-a reminder system for follow-up
Computer Files-yup, these need to be organized too. See Creating Order From Chaos: 9 Great Ideas for Managing Your Computer Files from makeuseof.com, and 10 Steps to Organizing Your Computer from Organize 365.
Your mission is to decide:
- Where do you want to keep which files?
- How you want to organize them within the file: alphabetically? What subject headings will you use? Will you keep an index of subject headings?
- Do you want to use colored files or tabs?
- What kind of files will you use? How will you label them?
- Will you date-stamp papers? How long will you keep them?
My filing system: I don’t have in and out boxes. I don’t have that many things that need follow-up, so I don’t use a tickler file. I have a four drawer file cabinet: 1) the top drawer is current reference files, 2) the second drawer is interests, 3) household records, manuals, and historical reference, and 4)work related files. I do find it helpful to keep an index that maps out what I keep where. I also use binders a lot. I have a household notebook binder, a binder for bank statements, and a separate binder with plastic pockets file where I keep paid bills.
Further Reading: Setup a Bill Paying System
Action Steps to set up files
This is one of the weekly activities for a Year of Personal Development.
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