Filing 101 | Giftie Etcetera: Filing 101

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Filing 101


Filing is practically a naughty word, right?

Let me help you not hate it so much by sharing my top ten ideas for making your filing system work for your home or office.

(Okay, if pressured, say with threats of someone taking away my coffee or making me miss the newest episode of The Big Bang Theory, I'd have to admit that I might have once said a naughty word while filing. Once. Or, twenty-five times in one day. Oops. But I am reformed! Reformed, I tell you.) (Seriously. I've been reformed about filing for about six months now. WHY DOESN'T ANYONE BELIEVE ME?!?)

1. Put your filing in a convenient place. The most convenient place is not always a file cabinet.

In my case, I don't have room by my desk for a bulky file cabinet. Instead, I use an insulated bag that I bought from Thirty-One. (I do not sell Thirty-One products.) (An insulated bag is not necessary. Your files do not need to stay cold. ;) It just happens to be a good size. And it zips up.)

There are two big advantages to a bag. First, it zips up and stores neatly next to my desk. Second, it is portable, if I must do my filing elsewhere or evacuate in an emergency.

2. Keep an index of files in your planner. Use the index to decide where you will file each piece of paper, instead of arbitrarily making up new file names all the time.

I keep mine in the Notes section of my planner.

3. Put a discard date on the file folder for things that do not need to be retained forever.

4. When filing, always put the newest paper in the front of the file. After all, it's the item you are most likely to go searching for again.

5. When filing, go through any file you touch and discard any out of date material.

This will keep your files from getting too thick.

6.Use a consistent system for naming your files.

Because I once worked in an accounting office, I tend to start with vendor names. For example, my bank files get called "Bank of America" or my investment files get called "Vanguard."

Next, I have a file for each person in the family, with things like their birth certificates in there. I do have a separate file where I keep awards and honors that are resume' worthy, but that is only because our personal files got too thick.

For things like the car, where I have a file with the name of the vehicle ("Honda CRV").

The truth is that I mostly use file names that mean something to me. It works, but only because I have an index in my planner to look at when I do my filing.

7. File things as they enter the house or office.

Seriously, this is NOT the time to procrastinate.

8. Put spare, blank files in the back of the file tote

That way, you always have some available if a new file will be made.

9. For true archiving, put the archived files elsewhere, but note where on your file list.

For example, my old tax folders go elsewhere. I have to keep them for ten years, but I don't have room for them in my active files. (See the note at the bottom of the picture below.)

10. Do NOT bother with pretty labels.

Otherwise, you will just procrastinate because you don't have time to make a label. Just use a sharpie or an ink pen.



Josh LaPorte said...

So right on! I made a few changes to work and home filing and it's worked beautifully; At work, my file drawer was WAY down at the far end of my desk, out of reach. I found a wheeled cabinet and put it under my desk immediately to the left of where I usually sit to work, so it is right at hand. I also put empty file folders and blank labels in the drawer, so if I'm adding a new topic/vendor/project I can easily make a new folder for it. Much the same thing at home. Make it as easy as possible for you to manage your files.

Erin said...

This made me laugh. I have the same 31 bag that is filled with craft supplies. My friend asked me the other day if my supplies need to be refrozen often. LOL.

My husband hates to file I should forward this to him.

Tita Mama said...

All great tips, but number 2 is the best.

Anonymous said...

I completely re-did my files last year and my new system is working for me. But I didn't do number 2, good idea. I couldn't tell you how many times my husband has asked me if we had a file for, or where I put something he needed. I will be doing that one for sure.

Christine Cortese said...

As usual, a timely and functional post with information that I can put to use straight away. How did you know I was frustrated about my filing system? And keeping an index of files in my planner is something I had NEVER thought about - your blog is priceless. Thanks again!

Marilyn said...

Thank you, this is pretty useful. :) I haven't properly filed anything yet, but will remember your tips when I do. said...

I have a terrible time with filing. Because I'm ADHD, filing is a challenge. For example, when creating a file for my car, do I call it: car, auto or Jeep. Whichever one I choose, when I need to file something, I look for the wrong one. I HATE filing!!!!!

The insulated 31 bag for filing made me laugh! said...

I wish you lived in my town so you could come help me with my filing.

Giftie Etcetera said...

Patti - I wish I lived in your town so I could meet you!

nursefriendly said...

Hi Giftie,
Are you open to doing some planner trouble-shooting. I have a habit of overthinking things and you have good solid advice.

Giftie Etcetera said...


nursefriendly said...

Hi Giftie,
This isn't so much of a question as is a little whining and belly-aching. This is my year to get organized; I have to. I started using an Erin Condren Life Planner 2 weeks ago that is very cute and I like the layout. I'm new to organizing work, household and my 2 preschoolers so I am going slowly, focusing on being consistent. I have watched so many Youtube videos and read so many blogs that I am trying to do everything, and it is not working. I purchased a cute compact Franklin Covey planner/purse that can be worn as a cross body bag from eBay. (It's being shipped as we speak). The idea was to buy custom cute nserts for it slowly and fill my planner for next year, but I'm disappointed in the selection for the compact size. Now I feel like I have to choose between beauty over function. It's hard not to have planner envy because some planners are so beautify and others are so well laid. I just need to accept the fact that my planner will not be like everyone elses. Like I said I'm all over the place and I need some direction on what to focus on as a newbie. Okay my belly aching is over.

Giftie Etcetera said...

You can't do everything. I know I throw a lot out on this blog, but you have to pick and choose the most important stuff. I can't use spiral. I've tried. I've been sucked in by the pretty, too! :) But I needed the practical. That's not true for everybody.

Stop. Make a list of five NEEDS. Make a list of three WANTS. Make a list of ONE thing you HATE. Use that as your guide!

Anonymous said...

Oh thank you. This is so very helpful. I will try to use 3,5,7 and 10 immediately.

nursefriendly said...

Thanks for your help.

Anonymous said...

I have "shredfest" every January. I go through my filing cabinet and shred anything that isn't needed. It helps keep things under control.

Lindsey said...

I never thought about adding a discard date. Mind blown. Thanks!