If your TV were to die today, could you find the warranty? Do you know where the title to your car is? Could you pull out your son’s 5th grade report card in fifteen minutes?
We lose precious minutes every day searching for misplaced items. Sure, it is time consuming to organize your papers — but once the system is established you will save countless hours looking for necessary documents. One of our chief complaints in life is that there is never enough time.
For example: Today your daughter is going on a field trip, however, you’ve lost the permission slip. If it takes you 10 minutes to find it, that is 10 minutes of wasted time. Multiply that by 2 field trips a year, times 12 years in school and you end up with 4 hours of your life spent looking for lost permission slips. If you have two children it is 8 hours, three children it is 12 hours — half a day spent looking for misplaced permission slips. The question isn’t , “Can you afford the time it takes to set up a system?” the question is, can you afford not to?
Here are 6 easy steps to setting up a filing system that can be adapted to meet your family’s needs. (HINT: Don’t try to go back and file old records, start the system from scratch and add a few old documents each time you open the file cabinet.)
1) Collect all the documents (bills, receipts, warranties, policies, etc.) you want to file.
2) Gather together a garbage can, folders, labels, paper clips, and pens/markers.
3) Start at the top of the document pile. Decide if the first piece of paper has any value. If not, toss it, if it does, choose a folder and label it. Place the paper in it and set the folder to the side.
4) Take the next piece of paper. Decide if it can go into the folder you’ve already created. If not, start a new folder. Continue in this manner until all your documents have been filed away.
5) Alphabetize the folders and place them into a filing cabinet or storage box.
6) Every time you consult a folder, go though it quickly and throw away useless information (expired warranties, receipts for gifts that are not going to be returned, etc.).