Have you ever been desperately looking for paperwork in your house, only to remember that you shoved them in a drawer when cleaning the previous day? If you have a lot of household papers, the temptation will often be to hide them away. Unfortunately, while that may “declutter” your home, it also makes them nearly impossible to find. Here are some tips for organizing your household papers and locating them quickly.
1. Collect and Sort the Documents
First thing’s first: find all the documents you’ve been hoarding around the house and collect them into a single, large pile. From there, you can sort these documents based on documents that you need to save and documents that you can throw away. Collecting and sorting your documents will make it easier to identify copies and create a filing system. Many of them are likely in a kitchen drawer!
2. Digitize As Much As You Can
Take advantage of technology and go digital. A digital scanner (or even a phone app) makes it possible to create and store digital versions of many of your documents. While you do need to make sure these documents are properly synced or backed up, once they’re digitized you can safely throw them away. The only exception is for documents that you need the original of, such as legal documents.
3. Make Copies of Important Documents
If there are important documents in your household papers, now is the time to consider making copies that you can store in a safe deposit box or somewhere outside of your home. Things like deeds, birth certificates, and marriage certificates should have copies that are elsewhere: otherwise if there’s a fire or flood in your home, you could lose everything at once.
4. Get Your Supplies
How do you prefer to organize your files? Some people like to use colored folders. Other people like to use labels. Either way, you’ll need to purchase some supplies. Get enough folders to separate your documents into different categories, such as:
You can either purchase labels or get a permanent marker to mark the folders themselves. If you really want to get well-organized, you can consider the purchasing of a label maker.
5. Invest in a Filing Cabinet
The easiest way to organize and locate household papers is to place them in a filing cabinet. A filing cabinet will hold up any number of folders with the tab up, so you can quickly flip through them by label. When closed, the file cabinet will demurely hide all of your stacks of paper.
If you don’t have enough paperwork to justify a filing cabinet, consider purchasing a large 3-ring binder instead. With the help of a handy hole punch or plastic sleeves, you can easily organize all of your documents in a single, consolidated location.
6. Organize the Documents
There are a few ways you can organize all of your documents into file folders and binders. You may want to organize them strictly by type (such as “insurance”) or you may want to organize them chronologically. A versatile system is to organize by category first and then sort paperwork chronologically within a folder.
However, you may also want to organize documents based on the company that they come from. It’s up to you to determine which system makes the most sense for you. However, you do need to make sure you create a system and that you stick to it; otherwise you could find yourself with an inconsistent filing pattern that makes it even more difficult to find documents.
Consider having the first page of a folder or binder as your guide or key to the rest of your documents. If you’re color coding by category, list out the categories and their colors on the first page. When you’re looking for something specific, check your guide and then you’ll know where to go.
If you’re going purely digital, make sure you have an organized folder structure on your laptop or desktop.
7. Reduce Paper
Once you have your household papers organized, consider reducing the amount of paper that comes into your house. Sign up for digital copies of statements (you can usually opt out of physical statements from banks and other utilities) and other items that you don’t need paper copies of. In the future, when these digital copies come in, you can send them to your digital archives rather than having to deal with physical paperwork.
By taking it step by step, you should be able to create a reliable system for the storing and finding of your household papers. And that means next time you need a warranty or a receipt, you’ll know exactly where to go. For more information about organizing, decluttering, and maintaining your household, follow Get Organized Wizard on Facebook and Instagram.