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The total number of depth inches you have equates to number of file drawers you will need in file cabinet. Be sure to measure depth of any file cabinet drawers you may be thinking of buying to ensure you’ll have enough space (allowing at least 4 inches in each drawer’s clearance for sliding & viewing files.
Maintaining The System Annually
At end of year, transfer past year’s interior files to inactive storage. Keep same hanging file folder in place, and create a new set of interior file folders labeled with New Year. Keep “static materials inside hanging file folders from past year.
Suggested Category Headings
•Automobile •Children •Computer •Credit Cards •Education •Employer •Frequent Flyer Program •Fitness •Hobbies •Holidays •Life Insurance •Renter’s or Home Insurance •Business insurance •Medical Insurance •Dental Insurance •Disability Insurance •Long Term Care Insurance •Mortgage •Retail •Services •Legal oStocks oBonds o401K •Subscriptions •Taxes •Travel •Utilities •Warranties
Index Based Organizing
Step 1: Discard & Pile
Review your papers and discard any papers you no longer need to keep. For papers you need to keep, sort your papers into a single pile (no need to categorize).
Create File Index
For each one of these papers or related group of papers (if that relationship is very obvious to you), you will create a numerical file. You will then record File #1’s contents in an excel log (or other computerized tool) that describes contents of file. For example, if I have a utility bill from March 2004, you would make description “March 2004 Utility Bill”. This file description will get assigned a random file number in a pre-identified location (i.e., File #1 in office filing cabinet). Should you ever need to find this bill again, you would do an Edit/Find search in Excel and enter “March 2004 utility” to find it. The advantage of this approach is it does not rely on categorizing. When your May 2004 bill arrives, you can assign a totally unrelated file # to it.
You can create & record these indexes with Excel or Access by using their search capabilities. There is also a software program called “The Paper Tiger” from The Hemphill Productivity Institute that is designed for this purpose, and it adds some nice bells and whistles (like tracking files that have been pulled out but not put back). There is a free trial offer and tele-class if you are interested (information can be found at their website http://www.thepapertiger.com).
The major disadvantage of indexing approach is that you must maintain many more files in your storage unit, as well as data base to track them.
Other Filing Tips
• You should have “action” folders for bills to pay, things to do and pending matters. This serves as a holding place for things that still require action on your part. The key is to keep on top of these action files so backlog does not build up. It is also helpful to have a calendar file to keep things needed for events already recorded in your calendar (e.g., directions to event, handouts, etc.)
• You can use color coded folders to visually identify subject categories
• You can alphabetize your file folders by hanging folder tab name, but if you use staggered file tabs, you’ll have to redo order every time you add or delete a subject.
•Pendaflex, a leading manufacturer recommends that files should be no more than ¾” thick. If you need a file with a greater thickness, you can use “box bottom” hanging folders.
Copyright 2004 - All rights reserved
Ilene Drexler works with residential clients in Manhattan who want to get organized. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, as well as the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. Ilene honed her skills working in corporate operations management.
The Organizing Wiz Phone 917-301-1981 Fax 212-828-3663 Email: ilene@organizingwiz@com url: www.organizingwiz.com