Create a Household Filing System

Home, Home & Family, Living Green
on October 28, 2001

How do you file your household papersor do you?

Well, you should, and here are some reasons. If your credit card statement shows you were charged incorrectly for a large item you purchased, you have to produce the receipt. Do you know where it is? Your washing machine is leaking, and you think its still under warranty. Can you find it? Your daughter needs a copy of her birth certificate. Where is it?

If any of these hits close to home, think about creating a simple and effective household filing system to allow you to take control of your time. A properly maintained filing system is an effective time-management tool to turn disorder into order. A simple records storage box with hanging files will suffice.

First, gather all loose papers scattered throughout your house, including all unidentified papers stuffed in drawers, piles of unopened mail, sticky notes, and envelopes used as scratchpads. Sort each one and put it into different pilesto be filed, action pile (papers in which you can take action and then discard), and the toss pile.

As you sift through each piece of paper, ask yourself, Do I really need to keep this? Remember, 80 percent of what you file is never referenced again, so be tough in deciding what papers are important enough to be filed.

After deciding what papers you are going to keep, find a handy place to file and store them. A few rules of thumb will keep this system perpetually user-friendly: Label files with familiar names; arrange files alphabetically, with the most recent in front; and clean out files as you use them.

Keep your filing system running efficiently by adopting some new habits:

  • Use a different color folder for each childs paperwork, and start a three-ring binder for your kids school menus, calendars, and fliers.
  • Staple appliance receipts to the warranties and keep in a loose-leaf binder for easy reference.
  • Open mail over the trash can to avoid stashing junk mail. This stops unwanted piles from forming.
  • Keep vital information that is hard to replacesuch as wills, marriage licenses, birth certificates, military records, and college transcriptsin a safe deposit box or an in-home safe.