Easy Does It Filing System, Part 3: Keep It Simple Sweetie!
If you've been following along, I've been delving deep into paper clutter and filing. In my last post, I went over how and why to deal with your mail the moment it comes into your house. It is now time to implement the Easy Does It Filing System!
My Easy Does It Filing System is centered around the KISS theory.
Do you know what that means? "KISS" stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. However, seeing as I don't believe in being mean or judgmental, I changed the word Stupid to Sweetie. So much friendlier and in keeping with how I roll!
Keeping your files KISS-worthy starts, in my opinion, with the actual file receptacle. Notice I didn't say filing cabinet. I'm not a fan of the classic file cabinet because I find they don't work for most of my clients -- as in 90%. The why is simple. Too many steps to get the papers to where they need to be.
Lets imagine filing one of those document you set aside after you processed your mail. To file that paper, you have to go to the filing cabinet, open up one of maybe three drawers to find the general filing area. Then you have to dig through the drawer to choose the correct file. Then (because this seems to be the case with most of my clients) guess the correct sub file. Then open that file up, and drop the paper in. Then you have to close the file cabinet. Now that's just one paper. Imagine if you have to file six different categories of papers! And then there's the issue of papers going out. Since you just did your taxes, I'm wondering how long it took you to find your papers once they were filed, or if you found all of them?
Food for thought, right?
My goal is to help you to understand why you hate filing. Simply put, operating in this type of multi-step system would have you losing your will to live before you ever opened a file drawer!
As I said in a earlier post, It wasn't until I watched an HGTV show called Neat, featuring a Canadian organizer, Helen Buttigeig, that the light bulb over my head went on and I began to understand why traditional files stored inside a traditional filing cabinet don't work for many people, myself included. We're pile-ers, not a file-ers!
Ok, now here's the part where you might freak out. All I ask is that you follow along with an open mind. Helen Buttigeig suggests using a literature sorter for filing rather than a traditional filing cabinet. The woman is a genius! (Please stop worrying where you're going to locate this in your house and just read on.) I'm going to walk you through why, then how this filing system works.
I chose this small one to show you first because this is the size that my family uses for our files. Generally this size averages at 29 x 12 x 12". I've never run out of room, but as you can see, literature sorters come in a variety of sizes to fit your needs.
Here's the WHY it works:
Single motion filing. Each cubby is a category, a file so to speak. You simply drop the paper into the corresponding cubby. Boom. You're done filing. (Drops the mic'.)
The Easy Does It system creates organized piles. I told you it was an easy filing system!
Now here's the HOW to Keep It Simple Sweetie!
Remember when I said no one taught us how to file? The weird thing is that somehow we got it in our head that responsible adult files are, well, overly complicated. Wrongity MrWrongson! I am here to kick that notion to the curb! Here goes!
Each cubby becomes a broad filing category. You get to choose! Simply take a moment to label each cubby so you know what goes where.
Here are a few of my examples:
Utilities - garbage, electric, water
Home - repairs, maintenace, etc.
Notice what's missing? Crazy, cockamamie sub files! I know! Shocking, right? How are you ever going to find things? The answer is, oh, about 100 times faster than from a regular filing cabinet!
Remember when I had you sort and process your mail? This is why. Your cubbies will be lean and easy to access!
Now here's the flexible part. What size literature sorter you need depends on your situation. I recommend the small size for most families.
And here's the part where I continue to be flexible, and yet contradict myself -- but for a good reason. There are instances when sub file cubbies are 100% necessary. In that case, we create them. I have set up larger systems for multiple property owners/managers, for a client going through a complicated workman's comp situation, writers, consultants, and many businesses. The important thing is to make filing EASY on yourself!
Where you locate your new file system is up to you. I recommend locating it out in the open, preferably near to where you pay your bills. No room is off limits! If you're historically an inconsistent filer, put your file system in the easiest, most convenient location to facilitate success. I would rather have you compromise your decor if it means your getting your files together.
So whadaya think???
Do you want to give this type of filing system a whirl? Office Depot sells a 12-cubby cardboard version for under $20!
Spending $20 to get your life back sounds worth it to me!
Up next in this series is a question.
Did you know there are different types of files that should NEVER be mixed???