Learn how organize paperwork & how to create a simple and easy personal paper filing folder that organizes all your important papers – even on-the-go!
We live in an age where there is much less paper going around, thank you technology! But there’s still an abundance of papers in our lives. From mail, bills, shopping lists, work documents, receipts, tickets, even school work! One day, we might not be looking for “how to organize paperwork” ideas. But for now we need a system to organize all our important documents.
In this post, I will show you a very basic and easy (and portable) organized filing system that will help you get more organized. It will also be simple enough for you to use on a daily basis. And portable!
I will also go through how to choose your home file system categories!
If you’re ready, lets organize all the paperwork!
How to Choose your Home File system Categories
Picking your home file system categories is the first step in how to setup a home filing system. In other words, you need to find out all the areas of your life where you get the most paper work and then see if they are worth starting a file category for
Grab a pen and paper and take 5 minutes to think of all the different types of paper items you accumulate and need to keep on a regular basis.
If your stuck, here are some major home file system categories that people often choose when how to organize their personal documents and other documents:
- Personal Documents (id’s, birth certificates, medical / health records, dental, appointment reminder cards, insurance claim forms, etc..)
- Financial Documents (tax forms, bank statements, bills, investment, retirement)
- Medical Records ( medical forms, insurance forms, health records)
- Home Records ( mortgage, insurance forms, warranties, utilities, appliance manuals and registration numbers, etc..)
- Family documents (paper invitations, tickets to events, family vacation documents, kids school documents, kids activities forms, daycare papers, children medical forms, homework, report cards)
- Shopping (coupons, receipts, grocery and shopping lists, recipes, rewards cards, couponing flyers)
- Work documents (business cards, contracts, expense forms, receipts, resumes, portfolio items, confidential documents, work pay stubs, work benefit forms, ROE’s, etc..)
- School documents (papers, report cards, acceptance letters, letters of recommendation, transcripts, application forms)
- Sentimental papers: kids artwork, cards, letters, notes, memorabilia
Paperwork Categories : Less is More
These main categories can be broken down into further subcategories (I.e. “Medical” can be further broken down into dental, and medical, etc…). But before you go down the must-find-a-category-for-everything road, I’m going to offer some advice: minimize the number of categories you have!
This might go against the advice you’ve probably heard. Unless you want to keep track of a multitude of categories, then having lesser categories will make your life easier.
You will thank yourself when you don’t spend an extra couple minutes trying to remember which category to file your paper under.
Also, in my opinion, having a simple and less complex filing system will encourage you to use it more. Because its easy and fast
My Personal Setup
I ended up keeping 4 categories: Personal, Work, Family and Shopping. I can usually file most things under each of those 4 categories, without getting overwhelmed.
Choose your File Organization Product
Once you have your categories all set, you need to choose your personal documents organizer that works for you.
We bought these Skydue paper expanding file folder system from amazon. Totally love them since they are cheap! They also have multiple sections (with tabs), a closure button, and can fit in a large purse,tote or backpack.
There was an option for the multipack so we ended up buying that so each of us has one. We even used it for the kids : my daughter (used to) keep one in her backpack to put her artwork/homework in. If you’re interested, here’s the link for the single file folders, and also for the multi-pack (the one we bought)
If you have a lot of documents that need organizing, then you could look at a bigger personal documents organizer like these.
A TIP: The smaller the file system you have, the less “clutter” you can keep. It of forces you to purge more often so your file isn’t bursting at the seams.
After choosing your file folder system, you’ll need to label each tab with the categories you chose above. I used sticker labels, which I hand wrote on. I used a marker to color code the border around the label (for even easier filing).
Maintaining Your File System
You’ll need to “purge” or de clutter your paperwork / documents every once in a while. Chances are you will file stuff that should later be tossed out, like expired coupons, old forms, old receipts, etc.
You might also find you need to remove or add categories as your life changes. Big events like weddings, buying a home, having a new baby might warrant a temporary new category to be added. OR maybe your retiring and no longer need a “work” category. Whatever the case your “categories” might change as time goes on.
And there you have it! You now know how to setup a basic file system to manage (and maintain) all the papers in your life! I hope it helps you conquer all your papers for good!