Receiving a thank you note in the mail is pleasant. It’s even more pleasant when you’re being thanked for something you didn’t realize would make an impact on the other person. This happened to me when I offered a simple organizing solution to a Realtor I had met at a networking event. She asked me if I had any ideas how she could keep all her real estate forms portable and organized. I suggested a portable accordion file. The next thing I know, I’m reading a very sincere thank you note that makes me smile. It just goes to show you, sometimes the simplest organizing solutions are the best solutions. In this case, find a good home for paper and things.
Erin Elizabeth Wells, Founder and CEO of Living Peace Professional Organizing, offers some simple tips for keeping your filing system easy to interact with.
A well-tended file drawer is a lot like a well-tended garden:
- It has lots of colors. (See this vlog post about using different colors of file folders for different categories of files)
- It has labels. (Is that place for the green beans or the pay stubbs- I mean the pea pods?)
- It needs weeding often.
Weeding your files simply means removing the papers that are no longer relevant or useful.
Weeding files prevents your files from becoming too cumbersome. The file drawer is only so big, so if you only add papers and never take any out, then you’re going to eventually reach full capacity. That makes filing new papers really, really difficult.
Weeding papers also saves you time in the long run. When outdated and irrelevant materials are removed from your files, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for more quickly.
Do you have a drawer full of files but can’t find the one you want?
Do you have your files alphabetized but you can’t remember what you named a particular file?
Have you ever made a new file and then realized you had one already (but just didn’t remember)?
Solution: Sort your files into categories.
When we group like-files together, they are easier to find and use.
Categories can vary from person to person, depending on how we each think.
There are no right or wrong categories. What really matters is that your categories make sense to you and you know where to look for a particular file. For example, the way I file insurance information is different from how one of my client thinks to look for her insurance files. She has a separate “Insurance” category, but I think of my renter’s insurance as part of “Home,” my health insurance as part of “Medical,” and my car insurance as part of “Automobiles.”
From time to time, we all ask ourselves, “Do I really need to keep this paper?” Here are six questions, based on Judith Kohlberg’s “Gathering Guidelines,” to help you make that decision.