The whole point to being organized is to relieve stress by bringing your life back under control. Having a filing system in place for all of your paperwork will pay for itself several times over in stress relief when you don't have to frantically look for that one important paper you need.
Believe it or not, a home filing system is at the heart of running an efficient household.
I believe being able to find paperwork that you need 'right now' is more important than if your socks are folded nice-and-neat in your dresser. I know my socks aren't nice-and-neat, but I have an efficient and effective home filing system that allows me to find what I need at a moment's notice. I know that my health care bills along with health insurance explanation of benefits, home and car insurance docs, tax returns, bills, appliance warranties w/manuals along with the purchase receipts are all organized nice-and-neat.
So, I'll walk you through how to develop an organized home filing system to tame household paperwork into a neat and orderly 'user-friendly' system which can mean the difference between a happy stress-free day or a stressful and time consuming day devoted to looking for an important paper that you need.
Of course as with any organization project, once you have your home filing system up and running, you may have to adjust it to meet your needs. Only you will know what works for you once you get your filing system under way.
Just remember, once you have an efficient home filing system in place, it is far easier to file a piece of paper away than it is to search for it endlessly when you're pressed for time.
And, organizing your household paperwork doesn't have to be expensive. The amount of space you need for a home filing system all depends on how much paperwork you have to file. A simple box or an accordion file which can be purchased at most stationary stores can do the job if you don't have too much to file.
My basic rule for organizing household paperwork is to keep non-vital documents in a simple filing cabinet like one of the ones listed above, labeled in hanging files with manila folders inserted into the hanging files. Personal and confidential vital records should be kept in a fireproof safe.
It's important to keep vital records such as social security numbers, insurance policies (w/agent's name and phone numbers written clearly on the front of the policy so they're easy to find in an emergency), and birth certificates locked and secure in a fireproof box because if there's an emergency, you're going to need to reference these quickly and won't have the time to replace them.
So, it's best to keep these in a portable fireproof safe to quickly grab and go if needed in case of an emergency.
Whether you have a dedicated filing cabinet, box, or accordion file, you're going to need to set it up according to the following categories to keep your house running smoothly:
It's also important to note that if you have an outstanding issue you're working on in one of the categories mentioned above, you should create a separate hanging file and label it something to the effect 'Tickler File' or 'Follow Up' and note your calendar as to when to follow up. Then when it's time to follow up, you'll simply grab the item from this folder to work on.
For instance, I have a hanging file in the front of all my other hanging files labeled 'Follow Up'. I keep anything that I have an outstanding issue on and need to follow up on in this file. Right now, there's about ten pending items such as issues with my health insurance and medical claims, Flexible Spending Account claims, issues I'm working on with my daughter's school, warranty work for my dishwasher, paperwork I need to follow up on for another business my husband is starting, etc.
And, I note my personal organizer as to when I'm going to follow up... usually every thirty days depending on the nature of the event. This 'Follow Up' file is one of the main ingredients to keep my home filing system running smoothly and I highly recommend you develop a simple one to keep your home filing system running smoothly.
Finally, there's a few of things to keep in mind when developing your home filing system: 1) Don't get overwhelmed, do this in baby steps, 2) Use a system of organization that's going to work for you and you're going to use, and 3) Be consistent. If you always put the same type of document in the same place, you will never have to spend valuable time searching the house for it.