Thursday, October 30, 2014

The 'To File' Pile; How I File Papers

I failed at taking pictures, but succeeded in tackling my 'to file' pile today. I had items from this time last year, so I was way over due for tackling the pile. And technically, it isn't a pile, as I have an actual hanging folder in my filing drawer that reads: TO FILE.

My first task was to quickly go through the entire pile looking for any items that did not need to be saved at all. I usually save checks we deposit, so those were a clear item that could just be shredded. There were a few other papers that I was able to recycle and a few more that were sent to the shredder.

The next task was to put like items that I needed to save together. For example, I found all the dental bills and insurance statements and made a pile for those. There were year end tax forms from investments, health insurance statements, life insurance documents, bank documents, credit card statements, and more. Once I had a pile for each type of document, I laid one pile vertically, the next horizontally, back and forth with all the piles until they were all in one big pile.

The final task was to put these files in our longer term filing cabinet. It was easy to take the first stack off the top and slip it into it file in the cabinet. I just went down the pile until everything was put into it's long term storage file. That part probably took less than five minutes.

I was then left with a nearly empty file!! The truth is there were a couple receipts that I still want to keep in there, only because they may be needed soon and I don't have another place to put them. I know it is where I will look first. And that's a good thing!

I may try to start making an effort to get items in my temporary file to long term filing at the beginning of the month. I've been remembering to shred receipts at the beginning of the month that are more than three months old, so I likely I could try to combine these tasks. A smaller number of papers would take less time to sort than the two inch thick file I worked on today.

Many of our documents are received online at this point in our lives. I should try to take note of which types of documents we are receiving in paper form and get those switched if possible to digital. That will then eliminate the need to deal with as much paper! I like that idea. Paper organization isn't my favorite.

Generally, each January I go through our long term storage files and decide if there is anything that needs to go. I usually find a few things, but the truth is much of it needs to be saved. The most common item I find to recycle is instruction manuals for something we no longer own. Sometimes it is extra stuff in my girls school folders that I determine is a duplicate or simply no longer necessary to save.

Do you file paper and digital documents, or just one? How often do you make an effort to file your paper documents? Do you go back through items you filed in the past and determine if you still need them?

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