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I’ve Filed It, Now I Can’t Find It!

I’ve Filed It, Now I Can’t Find It!

Simplify your filing

Create a Simple File system

Paper, paper everywhere and no place to put it. Or files; files for everything and we have no idea where the file is, what’s in the file or why we have it. Filing needs to be simplified as well as revisited to see what we have in our hidden drawers to cast out the old and keep just the necessary.

It has been my experience that many clients of mine have way more saved paper and files than they need. Some have a file for a single piece of paper of which there is most likely many. Some have many pages of “reference” material that gets torn out and placed in a file, rarely, if ever to be looked at again. Others have outdated papers they no longer need that haven’t been viewed in years and need recycling or shredding that can free up valuable drawer space.

I had one client who’s wife had passed and she did all the filing. He had to figure out her system, what things were listed under and then learn to use it. She had saved every paid bill and credit card receipt which is totally archaic, unnecessary and from another era. Yes, those of us from a certain generation were trained to keep everything in hard copy and to have a file for it. We’d get the bill, write a check for it, write the check number on the receipt and file it, for years at a time. Guess what? We don’t need to do that! All of our bills can be paid online. We don’t even need to get the bill in the mail. We can either set up Bill Pay through our bank and pay everything through one spot or pay each bill individually through the respective website. Past bills are archived and we can access them electronically and locate them that way. Should we need it, we can print out a copy.

Also with systems like Neat Receipt, we can scan all our documents into our computer and have a totally paperless office. We can back it up to a hard drive as well as a cloud service which can then be accessed anywhere in the world. I asked the above client what if there were a fire and his entire drawer of years and years of files would be gone. He would have no record of any of it. It’s not an effective strategy as far as safety and protection as well as taking up valuable “real estate” in a filing cabinet.

Scanning companies exist to tend to our documents as well as our photos so we don’t have to have boxes and bags of photos  we can’t see or don’t know what they are without opening the envelope. Besides that, we often have many duplicate copies and prints that are out of focus or just bad photos to begin with.

Many of us will create files and not remember the name of it and then have to scour through the files to find it. My experience is that many people have way more files than they need and they can simplify them greatly. Create a larger category, for example “Home” and then create subcategories to fit within that file such as “Home Repairs”, “Landscaping”, “Paint Colors”, “Termite”, “Future Ideas”, etc. Box bottom file folders hold a variety of smaller file folders. Make sure the greater categories are all alphabetically listed as well as the subcategories so you can easily find them. I prefer all the tabs on the left hand side, rather than having them left, middle and right. It makes it easier to see and your eyes aren’t moving all about, only in one place. The key is to create topic headings so you will remember them and they make sense to you. And NEVER, NEVER create a “Miscellaneous” File. That heading DOES NOT exist in filing or in any type of organizing. Break out those papers into specific categories or put them in existing ones.

Simplify your filing systems so you can find what you need when you need it. Eliminate the unneeded and keep only what’s needed. If you need help, call Creative Space Organizing at 510.501.1213 for help. We can get your paper organized today.