Organizing files may take some time initially and it will be so worth it! The benefits of organizing include increased productivity. Is your current filing system working for you? If not, read on. Outside In Organizer and Makeovers 9 basic filing tips:
Organizing files begins by establishing a file system (paper and/or digital) that is easy to use and maintain.
Your file system should be consistent in the types of file folders you use, how you name them, and in what order you place them.
Organizing files begins by creating broad categories such as household, medical, tax deductible, and medical.
Don’t get overly specific in labeling your files. If you find that you have only 1 or 2 items in a file, you may be too specific in your naming.
If you are organizing files for more than 1 person use similar naming systems. To distinguish each person’s records you can use a different color folder or label for each person, or add the person’s initials to the label.
Organizing files can be done alphabetically or using other systems. Decide whether you want to organize files alphabetically or not. You may want to organize them by categories such as tax deductible, personal versus household, or in other ways that make sense to you.
Decide if you will file records within each folder chronologically; recent documents towards the front.
Know what records to keep (and what not) and for how long.
Consider whether frequently accessed files should be towards the front of the file drawer. These files, if paper, are best placed in the top drawer(s) to minimize bending and maximize visibility.
Organizing files | Maintenance
Organizing files is only the beginning, you need to maintain your files. The filing system that works best is the 1 that you will use on a regular basis.
File documents and receipts on a weekly basis. Purge files quarterly or at least annually.
Shred receipts and documents after they are no longer of use.
Consult your CPA, tax preparer, and/or attorney to confirm what documents need to be kept and for how long. Every situation is individual.
Organizing files | Resources:
Organizing files is informed when you do a little bit of research. Here are some helpful resources:
Tax information: https://www.irs.gov/
What to keep and for how long: https://www.consumerreports.org/taxes/how-long-to-keep-tax-documents/
What receipts to keep: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/receipts-which-to-keep-and-which-to-pitch.html
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