Spring Cleaning – Figuring Out Those Files

First, it started with me looking for a list that I had written last week. Next thing I knew I couldn’t find the replacement debit cards. I was disorganized and when I get disorganized I feel a lack of control and a lack of focus. I’ve also been re-reading one of my favorite books, David Allen’s Getting Things Done which is a great productivity/time management system.Then I looked at the calendar and noticed it was March and time for a little Spring Cleaning!

Caption: Iris Stackable File Box (two came in a pack from Office Max)

Caption: In Place Tab View Hanging Files (from Office Max) What I love about these hanging files is that you can clearly see the label tab on the folders inside. Traditional hanging files “hide” the label tab.

Caption: In Place File Folders (100% recycled) they had a few different typesincluding super heavy/reinforced folders.

Caption: File Folder Labels

I purchased about 100 folders, and about 100 hanging file folders. One of the tips from Getting Things Done is to only use one folder per hanging file folder. That way, folders aren’t overcrowded and you don’t have to worry about re-alphabetizing things. What a brilliant system! The folders slide so easily! Now I’ve had an alphabetized filing system for about 6 or 7 years now so that wasn’t the issue. What wasn’t working for me was actually filing documents on a regular basis so they piled up in stacks all over the house. So I’ve decided that I’m going to file things on at least a weekly basis.

As far as labeling the files, here are some of the basics:

  1. Rent/Mortgage (I labeled mine according to my current address)
  2. Car Insurance
  3. Car Info
  4. Check Stubs
  5. Utilities (I have one for each utility – Electricity, Gas, Cable, etc.)
  6. Work Records
  7. Health Records (one for each member of the fam)
  8. Inactive Accounts (for all accounts that are no longer in existence)
  9. Retirement
  10. Receipts (with one folder for each year)
  11. Cell Phone (label it with the name of your cell phone company)
  12. Student Loans
  13. Taxes (one folder for each year)
  14. Warranty
  15. Banking Accounts (one folder for each account)

So that’s my basic system. I have more files that have more personal labels. Basically, if you are receiving an invoice, a bill or regular correspondence about something or someone, you probably need a file for it. Be sure to keep your folders in alpha order so that you can easily find things. I’m using portable file boxes but eventually I plan to get a file cabinent or credenza. A file cabinet would be easier to use to store things so it will most likely be that solution.

Another step in this process, after you’ve gathered your materials is to collect all loose papers from around your home and put them in one place. For me that ended up being an IKEA Basket that I purchased 10 or so years ago. Here is the final stack of papers to sort through & file:


Be sure to keep a trash can nearby. As long as a document doesn’t include any sensitive info (Social Security Number, Bank Accounts, Date of births, passwords, etc.) then you can toss it in the trash. You may want to invest in a good quality shredder where you can truly get rid of those documents you no longer need without compromising your identity.

It took about 4 hours to gather all of the paper into the basket and sort it into the files. Here is the final product:

Here are a few links to other organization posts I’ve written:

Working Woman’s Time Management System: https://donnienicole.com/2011/07/20/working-womans-time-management-system/

Inbox Zero Project: https://donnienicole.com/2011/06/10/inbox-zero-project/

Tonight, I’m Cleaning Out My Closet: https://donnienicole.com/2011/05/09/tonight-im-cleaning-out-my-closet/

Google Reader https://donnienicole.com/2010/09/04/google-reader/

Getting Organized/Work Edition: https://donnienicole.com/2010/09/04/getting-organized-work-edition/

Project Organization: Home Management/Family Binder (TUTORIAL): https://donnienicole.com/2010/06/27/project-organization-home-management-binderfamily-binder/

Project Organization: Financial Documents: https://donnienicole.com/2010/06/21/project-organization-financial-documents/

Project Organization: Countertop Action File: https://donnienicole.com/2010/06/20/project-organization-countertop-action-file/

Thanks for reading! Happy Spring Cleaning! Daylight savings happens in 1 week!

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