Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How To Organize Your Files

Well, this week all of you readers will get a double dose of organizational posts as I was out of commission last week with food poisoning. I'm linking up with Bonnie at House of Grace as we are working our way through the book "Organize Now!" by Jennifer Ford Berry.

Week 9 is about organizing your files. Do you have a have a filing system in place? What should you hang on to, anyway? Why does paper multiply faster than two bunnies in the spring? I have no answer for the last one. The first two questions Berry can help us with!

Week 9 goals are:

*Get your papers together! If you don't have a filing system, start here. This includes all stashes you've stuck here and there. Immediately sort the junk and toss, toss, TOSS! (Berry says that 80% of what we file is never looked at again!) Place remaining papers "to file" in one location where you will be filing (like a home office or work area).

*If you have a filing system in place, go through the files and toss all useless and outdated information. Shred personal and financial information before recycling. (If you do not have a shredder I personally suggest in making that a priority. We have been the victims of identity theft in the past and now I shred all paperwork with any personal information on it. It just makes me sleep better at night. :D)

*Set up your filing system. If you have a lot of papers (like me!) get yourself a filing cabinet. A small, portable filing container (like a crate or a large accordion style one) will work just as well especially if you are not the paper hoarder that I am. Berry suggests color coding based on categories and whatever you do, do not use "miscellaneous" for a category! Examples of some you might want to create are:

-Bank Statements

-Credit card statements

-Pay stubs/ work related expenses

-School info (one for each child)

-Home and auto insurance

-Health insurance

-Tax info

*Start filing! Go through all the papers you've gathered "to file" and separate them by category. Berry says to use broad categories so that you won't end up with lots of files with only one or two categories each.

*Berry also suggests making a master page that lists all the files under each category to save time later on.

*Choose one storage space for your addresses and business cards and update this space with new addresses and phone numbers. If using an address book, always put your entries in pencil so you can update changes as needed.

How To STAY Organized:

Once a month: File papers waiting in your "to file" bin. This should be a file folder or tray on your desk to put your papers that you are currently working on filing.

Every 3-6 months: Go through your files and toss anything you don't need to keep.

Once a year: Every January clean out your file folders, making sure you have all of your tax info together. Purge your files from the previous year and move files that won't be used in the new year to a storage box.

Two weeks ago I promised you a peek at my new (to me) filing cabinet. This little gem was a cast-off from my in-laws. And though it's dinged and rusty (in parts) and stickered to death, I am in love with her. I call her "Big Bertha" because, well, she's big (duh!) and Bertha sounded like a lass that could use a (ahem) makeover. I have delusions of grandeur where I imagine myself giving her a delicious coat of glossy candy-apple-red paint, but for now, she's in her "before" stage:

The top drawer is filled right now with some crafting overflow. And let's face it, there is ALL kinds of craft overflow around these parts!

Here is the second drawer and where the files actually begin. The categories for my files are as follows:

-Bills Once I pay a bill, I mark it paid with the amount paid and the date and then it gets filed here in case there is any discrepancy with any of my creditors.

-Blog This is where I put blog inspiration until I find the time to get the fingers to the keyboard!

-Capital One This file contains documents that pertain to an account I had with Capital One. Capital One said I owed them money. I did not. Had to get a lawyer. Needless to say I'm keeping this paperwork til the cows come home. And also it should go without saying, but Capital One is NOT in my wallet!

-Baby Okay, I could probably get rid of some of this stuff since my kids are, like, 9 and 6. It's pretty much stuff from the pediatrician about shots and stuff. Mental note: PURGE!

-Cards These are cards I've picked up and keep on hand (birthday, condolence, etc) in case I need one in a hurry!

-Keepsake cards

-Church This has info about our church, pamphlets, and so on.


-Credit cards

-Dish Network

-Edward Jones

-Fly Lady I printed out some of her schedules and keep them in here. Go here to check out her website.


-IRS Business

-Kirby Vacuum


-Marriage/ Wills Okay, I know I need a fireproof box for the wills/ marriage license/ birth certificates. Save your e-mail. Momma's working on it... ;)

-Old work Yeah. From, like, college. Mostly short stories and poems.

-Paint Samples Cuz when your toddler marks with lip gloss all over the wall and you've trashed the remains of the paint and can't for the life of you remember the name of the color you painted your living room... this folder comes in super handy!!!

-Personal Obituaries and a few college things and newspaper clippings.



-School Handbook, medication forms, etc.

-Seizure stuff This is for information sheets we have gotten from the neurologist that I give out to caregivers.

-Stories Yeah, more written work. I guess I could consolidate, huh?

-Wedding/ Honeymoon A few mementos...

-Warranties/ Manuals

Below is the third drawer. This contains:

-School pictures

-Anna's school work

-Jamie's extra work from school (I had big plans for summer with this folder!)


-Christmas crafts

-Sewing machine

-Sewing patterns

-Craft patterns


-Inspiration sheets

-Craft paper in folders arranged by color

-Foam/ acetate

-Pattern paper (scraps)

Below is Chuck's contribution to the filing cabinet. That's tax stuff. I don't even touch it. Which is why it's kind of just thrown in there. At least we know where the tax stuff is when we need it.

So that's it! Check back Thursday where we will organize our magazines and newspapers. See you then!

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