How To Organize A Home Office File Cabinet
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Step 1: PurgeGather all the loose papers in your office, as well as any other papers cluttering up your bag, home or car. Look through them, deciding what to keep and what to toss. Be tough on yourself - only keep documents you really need, and don't let yourself stop to read, reminisce, or otherwise get distracted. If you come across something that needs immediate attention, put it in a special "active" folder and take care of it when you're finished purging the paper monster. And remember, shred any trash containing personal or financial information. Use a cross-cut shredder for extra security.
Step 2: SortSort the papers you've gathered, using a system that makes sense to you. Start with categories like Banking, Insurance, Taxes, Car, Home, School, and Medical, then add or subtract categories as needed. Mystified by the sorting process? Buy a filing system that includes pre-categorized and pre-labeled folders to give you a push in the right direction, then feel free to customize as you go along. As you're sorting, you may find that your categories need subcategories. Insurance can be broken down by type of policy. You might want a separate medical file for each family member. Create piles for each subcategory, then arrange each pile chronologically.
Step 3: LabelLabel your file folders, then put your papers into them. If you find your system isn't working, merge categories or break them down further. It may take a little trial and error to make your system work seamlessly. You may want to use different colors for different categories to help you see what you have at a glance. If you are left with papers that don't fit into any of your categories or subcategories, create an alphabetical file to organize strays and orphans.
Step 4: FileArrange your files in your file cabinet. You may want to keep frequently used files near the front and financial files in a locked drawer, or you may want to stick with a traditional alphabetical structure. Create a system that works for you. Once you have everything the way you like it, make an index - a list of files by category - so you know what belongswhere and where everything is.