For anyone who works from home, or just has a lot of paperwork in their personal life, setting up a home filing system can be the right choice. But there are some ways to create this system that work better than others. Rather than take the chance at buying a lot of things that don’t work well, or having to stop and rearrange things several times, it’s better to come up with a good plan to tackle paperwork and then stay with that plan for the future. While making some minor adjustments is expected, major changes shouldn’t need to be made after the system has been set up. Here are some of the most important things to consider when setting up a home filing system.
1. The Right Way to Tackle Paperwork
The best way to tackle paperwork is the way that works for the individual setting up their filing system. What works for one person might not work for another person, and that’s perfectly all right. For many people, putting all of the paperwork in one place and then sorting through it gives them a starting point and a way to move things from one place to another and keep it all organized. To use this method, it’s important to go through the office or even the rest of the house, collect all paperwork, and put it in a specific location. That could be a pile, a drawer, a box, a bag, or anything else where the paperwork can be easily stored. Then, it’s time to set up a system to keep the important paperwork and get rid of the rest of it.
2. Setting Up an Actual Filing System
A filing system for paperwork should be one that categorizes everything properly, in a way it can easily be found. Some people might want things arranged by dates, such as months or years. Other people might want files that are based on specific projects, events, or the types of bills contained in them. For a work-at-home situation, the goal is to make sure client files are properly kept, so there isn’t any risk of information being lost or being given to the wrong people. With all of that in mind, a little bit of trial and error may be needed for the filing system. It can take some careful thought and experimenting to ensure that the system being used is the right one for the person choosing it.
3. Sorting, Arranging, Discarding, Archiving, and Shredding
Once the filing system has been created, then it’s time to get to the real work of getting through the pile of paperwork. Sorting the pile into smaller piles will help determine what happens to all the papers that have been collected throughout the office or the house. Some papers will need to be discarded, as they aren’t needed anymore. Out of that group, any paperwork with sensitive information should be shredded so that information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Archiving paperwork is usually done for things that need to be kept but that aren’t frequently needed or accessed. That can include things like birth certificates, marriage licenses, and related kinds of documents.
Arranging the rest of the papers into the files in the system that’s been created can help complete the task and make the system work well. Then you can reduce the chances of clutter intruding on your life by handling paperwork as it comes in. That means the paperwork won’t build up, and there won’t be any need to go through big piles of paper in the future. The filing system will keep current and future paperwork organized, and that can provide peace of mind and a less cluttered and distracting environment. While it might seem unlikely that organizing papers would help that much, having less clutter and an easier time finding documents when needed makes life less stressful.
4. The “For Action” or “To Do” Area is Important, As Well
Not everyone will get to all the papers in the pile at one time, or they might not be exactly sure what to do with some of the paperwork they find. If that’s the case, putting those papers aside in a specific location can be the right choice until a decision can be made. Then the papers can be handled over time, as long as they aren’t just ignored or other papers are allowed to build up. The goal is to get rid of the clutter and the paperwork that isn’t needed, so that’s the goal that needs to be worked toward consistently. The right home office filing system can make it easier.