It’s easy for paperwork and general clutter to get on top of us, with receipts and letters making a home for themselves on shelves, desks and coffee tables. That’s why an efficient home filing system is so essential. Imagine being able to find last month’s bank statement at a glance or having the space to display your décor (the dream!). Well, we’re here to help you turn your paperwork aspirations into a reality. Simply follow this step-by-step guide and watch your filing skills flourish!
Get stuck in
When it comes to creating a home filing system, starting is the hardest part. So, put the kettle on, pour yourself a cup of tea and get stuck in! Ensure you’ve got somewhere with a large flat surface area – on the floor will do. Then grab your stacks of paper and begin by sifting through everything. Make piles as you go, dividing your paperwork into the following categories:
- Recycling bin
Every time you make a new pile, add a sticky note to the top and label the pile accordingly. This is a good way to get a bird’s-eye view of all the paperwork you have and what needs to be filed away. When you’ve finished sifting, you should be surrounded by a few messy (but clearly labelled!) piles.
Keep it paper-thin
Avoid feeling overwhelmed by all your files by discarding any documents you don’t need. This will clear some of the space around you and focus your attention on the documents that need it. Keeping your paperwork down to a minimum is good practice in general. It prevents you from having to file and re-file on a regular basis and reduces the amount of paper being used and wasted, which is obviously good for the planet. This doesn’t mean you should feel guilty about the paperwork you do have – just try to take an eco-conscious approach. For example, you can invest in eco-friendly filing and storage pieces and ask to receive your bills digitally (most companies offer this as an option now).
So, to recap, you’ve got your categorised piles and your recycling bin is now full. Time to reward yourself with a tea break because you’ve just completed the first stage of filing!
Crack the colour code
Now it’s time to start tackling each pile, one at a time. At this point, you want to start adding some colour to your filing system. Not only will this make it look more interesting, but it’s also super-efficient. Referencing by colour is far quicker than squinting to see labels (we’ll get to those later). How you add this splash of colour is up to you: it could be in the form of coloured paper, dividers or tabs. Whatever it is, be sure to make a note of which colour equates to what category.
So how best to tackle these piles? And where exactly does colour-coding come in? Here at Paperchase, we believe there’s no such thing as too much colour. So, we recommend sifting through your piles again, as you did at the beginning, but this time creating subcategories within your main categories. Here’s an example of what these might look like:
- Work – contracts, passwords, training and qualifications, projects, pieces for your portfolio
- Finance – bank statements, pay slips, bills, taxes, pension, wills, insurance
- Medical – prescriptions, appointments, medical history, doctors’ letters
- Household – mortgage or tenancy agreement, house deeds, coupons, receipts, user manuals
- Archive – passports, warranties, academic records, birth certificates, car MOT
This may look daunting but sifting through these smaller piles won’t take nearly as long as it did the first time. It will also make your life easier in the long run, as you’ll know exactly where to look when you need something. For each new subcategory you create, assign it a colour. This could be as simple as placing a red divider on top of one pile and a blue divider on another. Your piles should now be plentiful, but smaller in size and more colourful. Next up, the best part…
With categorisation and colour-coding out of the way, you can move onto the most satisfying part – the actual filing away! Now that your papers and documents are already organised, you just need to file each pile/subcategory away into a storage unit of your choice. For larger piles we recommend a reliable lever arch file or box file, as these can hold a lot of paper. For smaller piles, ring binders are an easy option. And for the things you know you’ll need quick and regular access to, a magazine file or in-tray will do just the trick. Remember to keep only what you’ll need in future.
Fall in love with labels
We told you we’d get back to labels, and here we are! The final step in your new home filing system. We’d never expect you to remember all these categories and subcategories by heart. This is where labelling comes in. Make it easy to find exactly what you need by searching by colour and then label. Labels will save you time as you won’t need to read a document to figure out if it’s what you need.
Like we did with the piles, start by labelling your large files first, either on the front of the folder or its binding. Then begin to label your subcategories within the folder. This is made easy with dividers – simply label the tabs along the right-hand side and get quick visibility to the contents of your file. Remember to keep your labels brief but clear. For example, you might have one folder labelled ‘Household’ and within that folder a series of dividers with one section labelled ‘Receipts’ and another labelled ‘Appliances’. Keep them to one or two words, or create shorthand versions, making sure you still understand them. And there you have it – your very own home filing system!
We know filing isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but we promise you’ll reap the rewards in the long run. If your now more motivated than ever to start decluttering, check out our storage solutions right here.