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How To Set Up an Effective Home or Office Filing System

One of the top questions we get is, "How Do I Set Up an Effective Filing System?"

Creating a truly effective filing system starts with a planning.  For supplies all you really need are several colors of file folders, and if you want to get fancy, some box bottom hanging folders.

STEP 1:  FILE CATEGORIES
Look at your current filing system (or that pile of paper that you’ve been meaning to file for months) and start sorting your documents into broad categories. “Finances” might be one; “house stuff” could be another. At this point, we’re not focusing on the detail of your filing system. Quite frankly it doesn’t matter if it’s a credit card bill or a bank statement right now. We’ll worry about those distinctions later on.

STEP 2: SUBCATEGORIES
Pick one of your “major category” piles and let’s sort through it again. This time, think about breaking your paper into smaller subcategories. For example, your “finances” pile could be divided into:

  • savings account
  • checking account
  • student loan
  • credit card account

Be specific; don’t just say that they are “bank statements”. Determine which account they belong to and break each out into a separate pile. We don’t want any files “bunking” with other files – everyone gets his or her own separate folder.

Watch our show on How To Set Up an Effective Filing System

STEP 3: COLORS
Each major category of paperwork should be assigned a different color (your choice) – and then we’re going to put each of its subcategories into an individual hanging file folder. In the example above, “finances” might be green, and each of your accounts gets a separate green file folder. It seems like a small thing, but color-coding your system will save you a huge amount of time in filing and retrieving papers.

Being able to look in your file drawer and see distinct bodies of information broken out by color just makes SENSE to your brain. When you know that your financial section is green, your house section is blue and your car papers are in red, you don’t even have to think because your hand just naturally goes to the right part of your file drawer.

Check out our selection of colored file folders:

 

Colored Folders

STEP 4: LABELS
Now that everyone has their own colored folder, we need to label each file. When creating your labels, move from general to specific. Don’t tell me you are filing paperwork for your “Visa credit card” – call it “credit card: Visa”. When you arrange your folders alphabetically, all of the “credit card” files (no matter how many you have) – will be together in your “finances” section.

Check out our FREE ONLINE LABEL CREATOR: at www.Viewables.com

Our goal is to keep related files in close proximity to each other. Do this again and again for every grouping of files until you have labeled every file in each major category.  Viewables® labels are neat, easy to read and I can print them from my computer.  See the Viewables Labeling Products Here.

 

Viewables®

STEP 5: FILL THE DRAWER
All you have to do now is put the files within each major category in alphabetical order, and then put the major categories themselves into the drawer in alphabetical order.

Whenever you need to find a document or put something in a folder, just look first for the correct major category (easily identified by both the labels and the color). With the right filing system it’s easy to put your hands on the correct file without a lot of searching.