Because the paperless world isn’t here yet, it seems like everyone I meet asks me how I handle paperwork.
I remind them that my system works for me because I created it to work the way I like. Paperwork management systems need to be personalized to meet your requirements.
My system at work is to file papers immediately and discard as much as possible. I don’t have much to file, because I keep the bulk of my work on the computer. I keep a “tickler” file that has pockets for 1-31 and January-December, where I put paper that needs to be addressed on a specific date (for example, directions to a client’s house or tickets to an event).
My personal filing system is another matter. I have one file box for all household files (again, keeping paper to a minimum by using the computer) and a basket on top of the file box, where I throw paper that I might need (not junk mail, coupons or advertisements). About once a month I go through the pile, file anything important and recycle or shred the rest.
Yesterday, I went to find the receipt for a pair of shoes I bought last week that were too small for the 11-year-old. I knew the receipt was in the basket, so that was easy. What I didn’t realize was that I hadn’t been through the basket in three months.
Really. So I sat for about 10 minutes and pulled out old grocery store receipts to recycle and statements to shred, then I filed some memorabilia, big-purchase receipts and an instruction manual I had taken out a month ago.
I used to be much more meticulous about filing personal papers, but now tossing things in a filing basket works for me. It might not work for you if you don’t schedule time to cull the papers or if you have great amounts of paperwork to work with.
The secret to avoiding huge stacks is to find the filing method that you’ll stick with. If you need help developing a system, let me know and together we’ll create something that works for you.
Do you have an unusual filing technique that works well for you?