Have you ever spent hours looking for that one piece of paper and cursed yourself for having not organized your paperwork better?
No matter if it’s bills, mail, product warranties, or tax forms, chances are you’ll need to put your hands on those items again. Save yourself a future headache by organizing your paperwork today.
There are many ways to organize your paperwork both physically and electronically. Go with the option you think is most convenient and maintainable for you and your family.
No matter if you plan on storing most your paperwork physically or electronically, there are some things that you need to have physical copies of, like birth certificates, car titles, and social security cards.
Using binders to store bills and instruction manuals is a go-to option for many families who don’t want to have a bulky filing cabinet in their home offices.
You will need a large three-ring binder (or several small binders if you plan on having one per area of the house), pocket dividers, plastic sheet protectors and a three-ring hole punch.
Label your dividers (or binders) for the types of papers you’ll need to organize. For example car, medical, utilities, house, pets, etc. Hole punch items which you can afford to hole punch (like bills and manuals) and organize each item into its respective section. If it can't or shouldn't be hole punched, use plastic sheet protectors. Be sure to use ones that are acid-free for anything that you'd like to store long term and don't wish to be damaged.
You do not need to go out and purchase a large filing cabinet to keep your household papers organized. A single to double drawer cabinet should do nicely.
Similarly to how the binders are organized, you will label your file folders with the different records you need to keep track of.
Some people like to divide those larger sections (home, medical, etc) even further and color code everything. For example, your medical section might all be blue but each person in your family has his/her own folder. Organizing your filing with this level of detail can help you find papers faster.
The downside to binders and filing cabinets is they aren’t great for papers you need to act on like to-be-paid bills, mail, and clippings you want to read.
A desktop or wall organizer can help keep your workspace clean while keeping actionable piles separate. Label your organizer with tags that are pertinent to your life, like “to mail,” “file,” “read,” and “this week.”
Ideally, you’ll act on these slots each day, apart from the “file” slot which you can reserve for the same day each week.
Fireproof Safe or Bank Lock Box
There are some documents you need to keep safe at all costs like your car titles, house deed, and birth certificates. To keep them safe, we suggest having several copies to store in your chosen filing system and electronically.
For the originals, you might consider investing in a fireproof safe or take out a lock box at your bank.
For all electronic storage options, you’ll need a way to scan your items. There are plenty of compact scanners available on the market, as well as many scanner apps to use with your smartphone.
Evernote allows you to create notebooks and encourages users to use their tag system.
An easy way to use Evernote for your scanned documents is to create separate notebooks for each area in your home, like the binder organization. To further organize, use the tagging system to label each item as “bill,” “important,” “manual,” etc.
You can also import web documents into Evernote. This makes it easy to import PDF manuals and e-receipts into your Evernote system.
Dropbox is a great option for people who are already importing important documents to their computers and storing in the computer’s file system.
Dropbox allows you to regularly sync certain folders with the cloud. This adds an additional layer of safety in case your computer is damaged or stolen. It’s also a no-brainer since Dropbox does the syncing for you.
You can access your Dropbox folders from your mobile device or any computer with internet access.
Google Drive works similarly to Dropbox where all your documents are stored in the cloud. You can direct Drive to sync with certain folders on your desktop or you can upload directly to Drive.
Using Google Drive is an easy option for people who already use Google’s products like Gmail and Google Calendar.
Drive allows you to create folders similarly to how you would create folders on your computer. You can access your Drive files from any device with an internet connection.
MASTER YOUR PAPERWORK
Many people find a combination of these two filing systems works for them. You should always have either a physical or electronic copy of your most important documents like property titles, passports, driver’s licenses, etc.
If you have additional questions about paperwork organization or want professional help with organizing your office, get in touch with us.