When we bought our house, one of the missions I took on was creating more organization of our home filing system. We had one in place that involved hand-written tabbed manila folders which we thought was adequate at the time, until we started needing to reference subcontractors or bills at a moment’s notice. We begrudgingly quickly realized how challenging it was to find these specific pieces of paper in the sea of yellow-beige folders that we had created. Before I get started let me preface by saying that this project did take a while but it was completely worth it for the sanity and efficiency it created for our lives. How did I find the time? Truthfully, I did it over a series of days, at 15 minute increments which was a perfect amount of time because it wasn’t long enough to get frustrated but at the same time was long enough to get some real work accomplished. Some days when the kids were playing nicely with their toys and I was really in the zone, I kept going and it felt great afterwards to accomplish whatever it was that I was able to file that day. Just remember that this isn’t (unfortunately) and one-and-done experience. However, if you keep up on this system going forward, you will never have to spend this large chunk of time again on this project and instead it will be mere minutes here and there which is totally doable even for the busiest of households!
Below are our tips and tricks for successfully organizing your home files that worked for our family and are sure to work for yours too!
What You Will Need:
- Filing cabinet or large, covered bins
- File Folders (see below for additional information)
- Labels & a pen (or a label maker if you own one)
- Computer and External Hardrive (optional)
How to Tackle Organizing Your Home Files:
- Buy file folders in 4 colors: red, green, yellow and blue. Each color will signify a different type of paperwork, which is easy for your eyes to focus on when in a rush to find something in the future. We recommend red folders for financial documents, green for warranties and manuals, yellow for anything house or car related and blue for insurance and medical related documents.
- Next, using the labels, write a clear label on the tab at the top of each folder what the contents are (ie “Credit Card Records” or “KitchenAid Refrigerator Manual”). Being specific with your titles prevents a catch-all folder from evolving. Lilladu Tip: If you have a label maker, make sure the backing is white to really allow the label to pop.
- Declutter as you do this process. There are a lot of files that do not need to have paper copies, especially in our technologically advancing world. Check out online if warranties and manuals can be downloaded and then save it on an external hard drive if you have one (GREAT INVESTMENT). Again, make sure that you label everything correctly. Also, be sure to sign up for electronic billing instead of the standard hard copies which will help cut down on paperwork too.
- Lastly, create a mail station at home that is easy to follow and that all members of your family are aware of how to use. I have a small file holder like this one from Target in our kitchen and I have a file labeled for incoming mail, one or outgoing mail and one for things that need to be filed. I try and go through this on a daily, if not weekly basis (depending on how busy life gets).