What Momma Never Taught you about Filing

Workers everywhere admit they are often overwhelmed by the stacks of paper found in their offices, at home and in life in general. While most of us were taught specifics relating to phone or computer skills, very few people were ever taught filing techniques.  Momma might have taught you how to do laundry, cook and even how to balance your checkbook but I’m guessing she overlooked Filing 101.

Most papers can be divided into one of three categories:  Action, Reference, or Archive. Here are samples of each and guidelines for sorting.

1. Action – These items represent something you have to do. Have a pad of sticky notes handy to label things if necessary. If this pile is too large to act on in the next week, divide things into a reasonable amount over the next month or so. Here are a few examples if things you’ll run across at home and at work. Please note that each item has a verb which signifies an ACTION item:

  • Send thank you note to client
  • RSVP for company event
  • Return item to another department/individual
  • Create spreadsheet for Marketing Budget
  • Sign up for Employee Disability Insurance
  • Make Dentist appointment
  • Sign up kids for spring soccer
  • Redeem Coupon
  • Pay Bill

2. Reference – These documents represent items that currently pertain to you and your household or job. You will want to create a labeled file for each category and have these files handy in a filing cabinet or Banker’s Box. Here’s a sampling of some of the things you might run across as you dig out from your papers:

At Home:

  • Banking statements
  • Credit Cards
  • Donation Receipts
  • Employment records, including up-to-date copy of your resume
  • Household Repairs
  • Insurance Records – Automobile, Disability, Dental, Homeowners, Liability, Medical, Vision,
  • Investment Records – including Real Estate and Retirement
  • Medical records/receipts
  • Receipts for items purchased in current year
  • School records for children (I recommend one file for each child all the way through college)
  • Tax records for current year – includes receipts, statements or other documents which will be needed to prepare Tax Returns
  • Warranties

At Work:

  • Project files – some current, other recently finished
  • Bids for upcoming projects, products or campaigns
  • HR Benefits: statements and brochures
  • Budget reports
  • Industry White Paper
  • Items to Read such as trade magazines, association newsletters, company announcements

3. Archived – When you think of archived items, think of things that you don’t typically need on a day-in and day-out basis but you may need them some day in the future. They may represent something historical, practical or sentimental. Items with an (*) are personal things that should be stored in a safety deposit box or fire-proof safe.

At home:

  • Adoption records*
  • Back-up copies of photos and computer hard drives
  • Certificates: Birth, Death, Divorce, Marriage*
  • Former real estate transactions
  • Former stock purchases
  • Military Records*
  • Newspaper articles (within reason!)
  • Passports*
  • Past tax returns*
  • Wills & Healthcare Directives*

At work:

  • Completed and closed out project files
  • Blueprints of completed projects
  • Signed-off approvals
  • Receipts for supplies/equipment
  • Warranties of equipment
  • Historical data, photos, documents related to your job
  • Print samples of brochures, business cards, or other business stationery

Action Files are probably the most time-sensitive since they represent something needing to be done. Make sure you can visually see your action files each and every day. At home, use an open file box on your kitchen counter. At work, use a step file sorter which will keep your files within arms’ reach and always visible.

This article was created by the team at Organized Audrey. This material may be reprinted or reposted, but please credit the author and our website: organizedaudrey.com.

For booking or more information, please call Audrey at 952-944-9470, or visit her website www.OrganizedAudrey.com.

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