Paper Organization – How to Set Up a Filing System

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 48,561
    Professional Organizer Erin Young discusses simple steps for setting up a filing system that you can do right in your own home.

    Erin Young: Hi! My name is Erin Young. I am a Certified Professional Organizer with Clutterbusters, and today we are talking about ways to reduce the paper clutter in your home.

    Right now, I am going to walk you through some simple steps for setting up a filing system that you can do right in your own home. All youre going to need to get started is a filing cabinet, some hanging file folders, some manila folders, a labeler, and a pen, and of course, your stacks of paper for filing.

    Now, were ready to go ahead and start filing, lets go ahead and get started.

    There are as many different ways to file your papers as there are people in the world, and what works for one person doesnt necessarily work for somebody else. Some people like to file alphabetical order, numerical order, by color, by subject. I am going to show you what works for me. Feel free when you do this at home, to consider your own thought process and to do whatever is intuitive to you.

    I like to file by subject, and I like to keep it as simple as possible. I dont like a lot of colors because I feel like its too busy on my eyes, and I like to group like subjects together.

    For instance, right here in the front, Ive got my financial papers. Ive started with my banking, then I move to my credit card, and then to my 401(k). Within my banking files, I have one for each account that I have. One of my accounts is an individual account and with the same bank its the joint account with my husband; so Ive got two separate manila folders for those papers.

    Next, I move to my taxes, which is an extension of my finances. In here, Ive got only the most current tax papers. Were going to deal with later how to handle, how to store old tax papers. So, right now Ive got 2007 and 2006 tax returns.

    Then, Ive got my car and the car insurance. Then we move to the house files, and here, Ive got a folder for my lease and a folder for all the warranties in my home like the blender, and the washing machine, and all those kinds of things.

    Then, we move to Utility. Now, I rent an apartment, so my utilities are all bundled under one company. If you own your home, you might find that you need to pay power, gas, electric, all of those kinds of things those are included in my rent. So, I dont have folders for those, but you might. So, go ahead and create those if you need them.

    Ive got my cell phone bill separate from the rest of my other utilities.

    Next, I have my employment file, first the general file that contains my transcripts, letters of recommendation, resumes, that kind of thing.

    Next, I have a folder for the company I currently work for, Clutterbusters, and within that I have some files that I need to use.

    Then I go to personal files. Ive got Medical, under which I have insurance papers and prescriptions. Then I have my file for Identity, which includes Social Security paperwork, birth certificate, passports, that kind of thing.

    Ive got a Legal file, in here I have a folder designated for wills, advanced directives, that kind of thing, those papers live in this file.

    Then, I have a General Family file.

    After that, Ive got my Special Interest file. Ive got a folder for Acting, for Baking, for Cooking, for Gardening, whatever interests you, go ahead and designate a folder for that.

    Next I have a Correspondence file. This holds my little notes of paper that are going to go into my address book with phone numbers, email addresses, addresses, people I need to write Thank You notes to, Respond To letters, that kind of thing, and of course, you have to have a Miscellaneous folder for the things that just dont have a home anywhere else. I believe in Miscellaneous folders and I believe in junk drawers, youve got to have at least one.

    So, this method of filing is what works for me, it might not work for you. Youre going to have to do some experimentation, let it grow and change and develop as your filing needs change and develop. Make sure, however you do this its intuitive for you and its easy for you to find the papers that you need when you need them.