Organizing Files

Remove Formatting from selectionPaperwork is the one thing that can get people hung up. It doesn't take long for it to pile up, shoved in drawers and set aside to be "taken care of later". I have been guilty of doing all of thee above, and I consider myself fairly organized. Sometimes, however, life gets in the way and we put it off. At this point, it usually takes something to snap us out of our pack rat thinking and kick start us into "getting back on track" mode. This happened to me last weekend. I was on the hunt for a receipt. It was a receipt for a pressure washer and so I knew it had to be somewhere. wasn't. WHAT!! Where could it be. Not only did it mean I lost it, but it meant that it didn't get included in our taxes. This prompted me to pull out every file drawer (okay, I only have two) in my filing cabinet. That prompted me to decide it was time to go through my files because they were so full it wasn't funny. I think it is VITALLY important to be organized when it comes to paperwork. Organized in a way that anyone in your family can find what they're looking for if you weren't around to find it for them. I'm probably not perfect at this and I have an ultimate plan and I'm on my way there. Right now I have a bunch of ugly, green hanging files and then a bunch of plain file folders. My plan is to purchase a variety of colored hanging files and folders so that categories are better recognized. All that green and cream can just run together and wreck havoc on the eye. I also plan to purchase an accordion file to keep monthly receipts in by category (according to our tax needs) and then at the end of the month enter totals into my computer (more on this later). For now I'll share what I did this week.
(Magazine I found that I had submitted a picture of my girls...they made the cover)
I was sick on Tuesday so it threw me off a bit. I started my re-organizing by going through files and purging what I no longer needed. First, I went through the files that held magazine articles, school things, etc (non-bill/financial items). Do you know I had articles from when I was in college....and I haven't really looked at them since then. Hmmmm, that says "throw away" all over it. I had also found way too many tests and quizzes that I had saved (I homeschool). I decided I didn't need to keep them because I do have progress reports that track their grades on each test and quiz. I did look online but couldn't find anything saying whether or not I needed to save them. Sandy over at Reluctant Entertainer posted this about Kids Memory Binders, which is a great idea for holding your children's school and other memories. I will admit I'm not good at saving their stuff. I homeschool so I don't have as much as maybe the average student has (which is entirely my fault)...I'll stop now before I go on a self-guilt trip. Check out her post. Key #1: Save magazine articles, school papers, notes, BUT...go through them each year and decide if you really need them. If they haven't been looked at, throw them away. Now-a-days there is so much info on the internet that we can bookmark everything electronically. Consider using binders that you can decorate and place the clear plastic page protectors inside that can hold your articles, craft, vacation, recipe ideas. They will be much easier to find this way. I plan to do this with my recipes.
I found this article: It was one done by our local paper about our church. This picture was taken during one of our MOPS meetings. My Nan was probably only 3 at the time.
The second thing I did was search the net and e-mail our tax guy to see how long I REALLY need to keep certain things. I was amazed at all the different thoughts there were on this. I finally just decided on what I felt was best for us within some of the guidelines I read. This was a great list for knowing how long to keep various items. It is too lengthy to write out in this post, but it is a down loadable PDF file that you can refer to. Key #2: Know what you need to keep and toss the rest. There's no sense saving things if they are not necessary. This will completely depend on whether you have a home business, special tax needs, etc..The average homeowner will not need to save records for as long as, say a business owner. Key #3: Label your files. For our taxes I need to keep receipts for EVERYTHING, so I have individual files that are labeled with categories such as: home improvement, yard, entertaining, gifts, well as files labeled PUD, Phone, Medical, etc...after a receipt amount as been entered into my computer (I'll share my excel layout in another post) that receipt or bill goes into it's appropriate file. I now have a printer with a copy function so if a receipt has several items that can be in different categories I will photocopy it (this will make it easier to track), and the copies will go in the appropriate place.
(Years ago when my girls were little I was a part of MOPS. I was over the newsletter and crafts, both of which I loved doing. I found several copies of the newsletters I did and had so much fun re-reading them. I may even post some of the articles I wrote...I thought "wow, I do know how to write, it's just VERY rusty.)
I placed things back in my filing cabinet in order of importance so they were easy to access. Key #4: Warranty items : Items such as our TV, computers, appliances, tools, etc. each have their own individual file where I keep any manuals that came with them. I also try to keep their receipts in that file so they are easily found! You could staple the receipt to the manual or to the file. I would recommend photocopying the receipt as over time, receipts fade.
As I went through files I found some notes from Bible College on Proverbs 31. I loved that lesson and purposely saved it. I think I will do a series of posts on this. So practical and so wonderful.
Develop a system that works for you! I know I'm no expert and much of this may be no-brainer to many, I also know there are many who have no idea how to file anything, but I have found what works for me and I wanted to share it. Do you like to save cards and notes from people? find a pretty box or basket to keep them in. Be willing to part with things that are no longer used or necessary. I will share these things in later posts:
  • How I organize our tax receipts
  • How I organize the girls grades, etc...
  • What to do with magazine clutter
My next thing to tackle? My recipes. I have a file folder full of loose recipes. I have a plan for organizing them, but I just have not taken time to sit down and do it. I will be doing that VERY soon!! With Joy UNquenchable,


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