Many people incorrectly believe that organizing personal documents is too difficult a task to be worth their time. Part of the reason for this misperception is because they’re already highly disorganized and allow paper to pile up and clutter their homes. As a result, they can rarely find the documents they need in a quick and efficient fashion. Some people have organized their documents in the past, but they feel this way because they fell behind while busy or sick, allowed paperwork to pile up and then faced the seemingly overwhelming task of trying to reduce the clutter.
The fact is that once you have your personal documents organized in an area optimized for document storage, you can keep them that way without wasting a lot of time or energy. You merely need to follow these four basic steps:
Pick a Storage Spot
A storage spot is the area of your home where you know you can always find all of your personal documents organized inside of different filing products. Many people have difficulty picking and sticking with a storage spot. They often forget about filing cabinets and boxes because they push these objects out of the way into a corner of a room that they rarely access. They then pile paperwork on countertops, tables and bookshelves, which results in disorganization and clutter. Pick an area that you know you won’t hesitate to visit and use for filing purposes.
Mix Efficient Organization Solutions
Some people also have difficulty because they only use one organization solution. To make your storage spot highly efficient, couple multiple main filing products with a wide range of filing accessories. For example, you might install a filing cabinet as a long-term storage solution for old tax, bank and academic records. For current year and month documents, you might use a small carry-style filing box with handles and position it on top of or next to the cabinet on a stand. A secure fire- and water-proof safe works best for vital records, such as birth certificates, insurance polices and wills and estates paperwork like Powers of Attorney and Advance Care directives. When organizing within these products, use see-through clear and colored folders, envelopes, sleeves and binders. For example, if you decide to organize health records for doctor’s appointments in binders, you might file diagnostic reports in plastic sleeves and discs of X-ray, MRI and other scans inside of binder envelopes.
Arrange Documents by Category
Although it seems like common sense advice to divide paperwork into categories, many people don’t put into practice what others might consider a logical idea. Instead, they pile every document they bring home together until they have stacks of unrelated documents everywhere. It’s okay to create piles in the beginning when organizing paperwork before filing them, but it’s critical that the piles have a type structure. For example, organize all of your car insurance documents in one pile, internet service bills in another and so on. To optimize these piles for filing cabinet and box folders, organize the documents with the oldest ones on the bottom of the pile and the newest ones at the top by date so that you immediately see the most recent document whenever you pull a pile out of its folder.
Use Color-Coded Labeling Methods
It’s far too easy to file a document in the wrong folder or grab the wrong file while in a hurry when the only labeling difference between file folders is a category name. To make finding the right folder easier, use color-coded folder tabs with different colors representing different categories in addition to folder name labels. One common method used for picking colors is to choose one that matches the document creator’s company or organization logo. For example, you might choose blue tabs for tax document folders since the IRS logo is blue and white. You should also consider common color associations. For example, you might use green tabs for investment document folders since green is commonly associated with money.
It’s not difficult to create a clearer mind and home. After you follow the outlined steps to reorganize your paperwork, you only need to maintain the storage space. The method is simple: file new paperwork as soon as you bring it into your home and return any paperwork you removed from the storage area immediately after you’re done using it. If you fall behind because of work or illness, grab the small pile of paperwork the builds up and file it during your next free moment within no more than two weeks. Lastly, if you have paperwork that you need to work on or mail out soon, use a tiered mail and document desktop or wall organizer.