How to Create An Organized Filing Cabinet

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Are you struggling to keep paperwork under control? An organized filing cabinet is a necessity for every household. Follow these simple strategies, and you will be on your way to getting organized!

Gather your supplies. You will need hanging file folders (make sure to buy the ones that include the plastic label sleeves and inserts), manila folders and adhesive manila folder labels (I use a label maker, but small address labels will do just fine). You can obtain these supplies as well as cabinets at any office supply store. For my filing cabinets, I use the lightweight plastic deep drawer units. Last but not least, you will need any loose paperwork as well as any pre-existing files.

Create categories. You will be using the hanging file folders to create your major categories. The categories you need will depend upon your individual needs. Some examples are vehicle(s), home and mortgage, appliance manuals and warranties, home repairs, school, financial, insurance, identity, medical, taxes, pets, miscellaneous etc. I like to type my labels and print them on cardstock. I then cut them to size and insert them in the plastic label sleeves. Typing the labels gives my folders a neat visual appearance.

Create your sub-folders. Use the manilla folders to create your sub-categories, and label accordingly. Again, these will vary according to your situation. Here are some examples. For medical, create sub-folders for each member of your family. For insurance, create separate folders for home, life, medical, etc. Keep in mind that there will be some folders that could apply to multiple categories. Use your judgement. The key is to design an organized filing cabinet where you can find information easily. As you create new folders, file any accumulated paperwork accordingly.

Create a routine. Once you have your new filing system set up, you will need to set up a regular routine for filing your paperwork. Basically, your filing cabinet is an extension of your mail. For a how-to on setting up a mail management system, see my previous post, How to Keep Your Mail From Managing You. I recommend filing paperwork as you receive it. If this isn’t possible, set it aside in a folder, and at a bare minimum, file it weekly.

Until next time, happy homemaking!

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