Often, people think that organizing paper files is a task that is to be dreaded. After all, who really wants to be cooped up sorting through boring old paperwork that you really don't need anymore. That is, until the day that they need to find Junior's birth certificate and they can't remember the last place they saw it. Well, instead of waiting till the last minute, and getting stressed out and panicked because you can't find exactly what you are looking for right away, take some time organizing your paper files. You will find that it is surprisingly easy.
- Set aside time. Organizing paper files will take some time. In fact, it will often take a lot of time. To be sure that you get the job done right the first time, and so that you don't lose anything, make sure that you set aside several hours one weekend, or even the entire weekend, where you do nothing but organizing. This way you will not be as likely to need to stop what you are doing and loose your train of though, and forget where you put that marriage license.
- Get the proper supplies. One of the key elements to organizing paper files is to actually have the proper supplies. In this case this will usually mean things like folders, staples, paperclips, labels, and some kind of storage device like a filing cabinet. Increasingly, making a digital copy of your paper files is becoming more and more popular, if only for ease of access and size. If you are thinking of doing that, then you will also need to get a computer and a scanner.
- Create a system. Organizing your paper files means that you need to create a filing system. While everyone may like their system to be usable by everyone else, there is really only one person who really needs to know how to use it, and that is you. Whatever system you decide on, as long as you know how to use it, will work just fine. One idea is to create a large "topic" folder, with smaller "subtopic" folders included inside it. For example, you can create a folder, or shelf in a storage cabinet, that says Financial Information, and smaller folders that are broken down by people in your family, and even more so by year and month.
- Maintain the system. After you have sorted through all of your information, and implemented the system you have developed, you need to maintain it. Without proper maintenance you will run the risk of losing your paper files, and at the very least having a mess that needs to be reorganized. Save your self the long term hassle by doing the work as you go.
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