Is your filing system in total chaos?
These creative filing systems may be just what you need to transform your paperwork (and digital files)!
You’ve identified your filing mistakes, you’ve whittled down your paperwork to keep only what you need and your ready to set up your new creative filing system. Not every filing system has to be the same. Use your creativity to create a system that you’re more likely to maintain. If your files are digital rather than paper, many of these ideas will still work!
Do you have just the essentials or a whole cabinet full of paperwork? The first step is to find storage to suit your style and space needs. There are tons of beautiful and creative filing cabinets, boxes and more to choose from. Here’s my latest roundup.
In the organizing industry, we refer to “filers” and “pilers”.
If your not into a re-purposed or disguised file cabinet and are looking for something different, a binder filing system might be right for you. Some people can’t stand filing papers!
Someone who tends to “pile” papers might be more suited to a binder system. nstead of a drawers you use a series of binders. I’ve created lots of these systems, some color-coded (by pereson or category), others with all the same color and labels.
- For example, “Investments 2016” might include several brokerage accounts.
- Determine the volume you have for each category (this post might be helpful) and what you need to keep before purchasing and setting up your system.
- Three-hole punch the paperwork individually or use clear sheet protectors to keep papers in place.
- Use binders for visual things you reference but don’t need as often.
- It’s a great system to use for files that need to be transported frequently or referenced by many! I recently learned about the Trio (3 in 1) Organizer by Samsill (while attending NAPO Conference) and love the idea of a binder and loose accordion pockets all in one. There are 7 sections which you could use as a modified “tickler” system (more below). It’s a new product and I really like it, just wish it was a hardcover instead of the more flimsy plastic outer.
Have you ever heard of the tickler system? You’ve probably seen in use somewhere (& I don’t mean in the bedroom…;).
- The original and most well-known is the 43-folders system includes 31 numbered “day” folders and 12 folders for the months of the year. This system is based on getting things done on time or at least on target.
- A great system for someone working with projects, on deadlines or managing productivity and finances more tightly.
- Simplified versions use 4 folders, one for each week of the month-use to keep on top of tasks that need to “get done”.
- This system doesn’t really work for “archive” or files that need to be kept but not handled but it’s a great productivity system!
- Think of it as a daily (weekly or monthly) “inbox” for all your to-do items.
- As more and more of us get away from handling “paperwork” you might want to consider setting up a “digital tickler” system for your inbox. More can be found about the tickler system at Life Hack.
I can’t do a post on Creative filing systems without mentioning color coding!
Colors might be by category, person, project, date or any classification to help you to quickly identify what you’re looking for. I like to ask what colors people use to identify with each category. For example, if your home is yellow, you might use yellow folders for anything related to household. Likewise, financial papers might be in green folders or binders. You get the idea if your visual, color matters!
“We are all primarily visual, color is first, symbols second, numbers are third… and words last.” Graphic Design USA
Using file indexes is another great creative tip that I don’t see a lot of people using these to their advantage. Indexes can be for either folders or binders and can include color coding, categories, sub-categories and more. It’s helpful to have an index with binders or file drawers (in the front). Keep a backup index with your essential documents so that you have a record of everything in case you ever need to recreate what you lost. I hope these creative ideas help you tackle your filing with renewed enthusiasm!