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As Easy As A-B-C
Organizing Your Home Office | Help! I've Lost My Desk!
As Easy As A-B-C
by Ronda Asta - email@example.com
Getting your home or office files in order is as easy as ABC
when you follow some simple guidelines. Though setting up a
simple dependable file plan isn't child's play it can be done and
done quickly with some easy-to-use methods.
What a nightmare opening those drawers and not knowing where
to begin looking for that paper or report you need. Imagine
opening a neatly organized drawer to include a written file plan
and putting your hands on the item the first time. That
professional image the boss or customer sees is priceless.
Nothing is more distracting than watching or hearing someone
shuffle through papers. You can overcome that distraction!
Remember when setting up your filing system; consider the cost of
maintaining all that paper. It costs in time as you dig
through it. It costs in space as you use the precious little you
have to store all that paper. It costs in the pocket when you're
purchasing the cabinets, folders and miscellaneous material
needed to set up a good system. Count the cost and then begin to
toss. After all, experts agree we never again look at 80% of what
we file. As you begin the process of tossing, ask yourself some
questions? Do I really need this? Will I ever refer to it again?
Is it important for my goals? How old is it? Can I get this
information somewhere else if I ever need it? Do I even have time
to read it? Can I live without it? There are no fixed rules
for a filing system. What works for you, is what works best.
Based on how you work and what you work with will determine the
best way to set up your system. A professional organizer can help
you make those decisions and get your system up and running in no
If you don't want to do this for yourself, consider your
family. When your time comes and they must locate necessary
papers to take care of your personal business don't make it hard
on them. This is a difficult time and having to delay a burial
because of lost papers will only make it worse.
People hire professionals to fix their plumbing, take care of
their yard or clean their house. Why not consider a professional
to help you get your papers in order. Find one near you on the
National Association of Professional Organizers web site: http://www.napo.net.
Paper directs our entire lives; we shouldn't let it control us.
It sneaks through the front e-mail box every Friday and seems to multiply as
we sleep. You wouldn't consider letting that dripping faucet drip
forever and get on your nerves. Why let paper drive you crazy?
Now for the do-it-yourselfers lets look at some basic
guidelines. First decide what categories of paper you really
"need" to keep. Make a list and then determine major categories
based on this list. For example I use: Bills, Banking, School,
Personal Documents, Warranties, Household Receipts, Business
Ideas, Organizing, and Teaching, to name just some. (I have two
four drawer file cabinets in my home office.) You may need more
or less. I collect a lot of articles and information on
Organizing as you might have guessed. I have my major category of
"Organizing" broken down into various smaller files. For this
article I pulled out my file labeled "Organizing - Office/Paper
Now that you've decided what you really need to keep and have
made your list, what about the proper tools. These are
recommendations and how I set up my system but you may have
another way that works for.
- First you'll need a filing cabinet of some sort. Of
course size is determined by what/how much you've decided to
keep. For those who only plan or need to keep minimal paper a
portable file box may work. You can also buy a one-drawer
cabinet. That's where I started, but I like keeping copies of
things so mine have grown over the years.
- Hanging folders will always keep your place in the file
drawer when you also use interior file folders. For instance, I
have a hanging folder, which is labeled "bills", and an interior
folder labeled "bills". When I remove the interior folder to use,
I always have a place to put it back.
- 1/3 cut folders work great for the interior files. Here I
will highly recommend using the same cut of the folders in the
same section of the drawer. Let me try to explain what I mean. In
the "Organizing" section of my drawer all my inside folders have
the same center cut of the file folder. That way when I open the
drawer, my eyes are drawn straight down the middle of the drawer
where my categories are listed on the file folder. My eyes don't
have to dart from one side of the drawer, to the other and back
again looking for a topic. They are all on the center cut of the
folder. In another drawer or another major category section, I
may use all right cut folders to label my categories. Hope this
Determine which type of system you plan to use:
- By Name: simply file by customer name, employee, name,
supplier name, etc.
- By Subject: (This is what I use) Set up by topics or
categories of information
- Numeric Filing: good for systems needing security or
We've already mentioned tossing out what you really don't need
and categorizing what is left over, now prepare a master list of
your files for quick reference.
That would be a simple table listing your major categories
with the smaller categories listed underneath. Also, I'd
recommend noting where it's filed, especially if you have more
than one cabinet. It could simple say, Cabinet #2, drawer 3
Don't forget to set aside time each week to file. What do you
do with the papers you plan to keep in the meantime? I keep mine
in a great wicker basket on top of my desk. Annually plan to go
through the files and purge.
Just having one location to place your bills when they arrive
can save you money. Every bill that comes through our e-mail box every Friday
into our "Bills" folder. This saves on late fees because I might
have otherwise placed the bill somewhere else in the house and
now can't find it. I pay bills twice a month, always sitting at
my desk. The file is in the bottom drawer and everything else I
need to pay the bills is located on my desk, i.e. calculator,
checkbook, envelopes, stamps, computer. I don't do on-line bill
paying yet but I do use Quicken to maintain my checkbook. Talk
about making it easy at tax time. I just print out my different
reports and it's all ready to pass on to my tax preparer.
As I make appointments, I place them on my calendar in my
planner and also on the family calendar, which hangs on the
fridge. Having a family calendar of appointments, activities,
birthdays, etc. keeps everyone up to date on who has what going
on, and when. It also keeps us from having extra papers lying
around the house or stuck on the fridge. I toss them out once I
note the information on my calendars.
It's never too late to get started organizing. A little extra
time and effort now can save you time, frustration and money in
the long run.
Reprinted with permission.
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