Filing Organizing

Name the file folder with the first thing that comes to mind; no matter what it is or how irreverent.  This will most likely be the first thing that will come to your mind when looking for it again.

Organizing files alphabetically is commonly the easiest way to search for files later.

People often want to color-code their files according to topical area.  For example medical would be green, financial blue etc.  This can be a lot more work than it is worth.  Don't color code unless you are skilled at working a filing system. 

Having your filing system looking nice, professional and organized will promote and encourage you to stick with it.  Use a label maker whenever feasible to make the file tabs easiest to read.

If you share filing duties with someone else in the home/office, be sure to have a conversation on what protocols/systems work for each of you.

Your filing folders/system should all be in one spot, whether that is the office, kitchen, garage, or wherever you have the space to work in.

Purging files is the most important part of keeping a filing system working and manageable.  Not less frequently than at the end of the year, go through each file and dispose of/shred anything that is no longer needed or is outdated.  This will free up room for the upcoming year's paperwork.  Pull out anything tax related and retain it in a box labeled with that tax year.

Know what paperwork you need to keep and for how long.  Too frequently, you are filing items that can be tossed out.

Maintain consistency with your filing.  Schedule a time in your calendar each week or each month to file… no matter what.  If you let the pile grow too large, you will be less likely to tackle it and your paperwork will become increasingly disorganized.

Estate Planning

Establishing and maintaining a systematic plan for keeping track of important papers allows our loved ones to easily access them in the event of an emergency or death. I recommend creating a list by taking an inventory of all of your important papers and note their locations on your list. If the papers are scattered in various places, try to consolidate them to a central location.

These papers should include family, property, financial, and legal papers that legitimize and protect you, your family, and your estate. They document identification, ownership, legal and financial status, employment, education, and family history and may include:

  • Birth Certificates
  • Credit Card Information (including auto charge information)
  • Debts Owed and those to be collected
  • Financial Accounts
  • Funeral and Burial Plans and Records
  • Household Property Inventory
  • Income and Expense Records
  • Insurance Policies
  • Investment Records
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Medical Records
  • Membership and Subscription Details
  • Passports
  • Passwords
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Professional Advisers
  • Property Appraisals, Deeds and Titles
  • Safe Deposit Box Inventory
  • Social Security Cards
  • Tax Records
  • Vehicle Information
  • Wills and Trusts 

When you are finished, give this document to one or more trusted persons (such as your attorney, friend, or family member). I would also place a copy in your safety deposit box and in a safe place in your home that is easily found by the appropriate person.

Organizing Steps to Ease Burdens When Unanticipated Life Events Occur

Establishing and maintaining a systematic plan for keeping track of important papers allows our loved ones to easily access them in the event of an emergency or death. 

I recommend creating a list by taking an inventory of all of your important papers and note their locations on your list.  If the papers are scattered in various places, try to consolidate them to a central location. 

These papers should include family, property, financial, and legal papers that legitimize and protect you, your family, and your estate.  They document identification, ownership, legal and financial status, employment, education, and family history and may include:

  • Birth Certificates
  • Credit Card Information (including auto charge information)
  • Debts Owed and those to be collected
  • Financial Accounts
  • Funeral and Burial Plans and Records
  • Household Property Inventory
  • Income and Expense Records
  • Insurance Policies
  • Investment Records
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Medical Records
  • Membership and Subscription Details
  • Passports
  • Passwords
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Professional Advisers
  • Property Appraisals, Deeds and Titles
  • Safe Deposit Box Inventory
  • Social Security Cards
  • Tax Records
  • Vehicle Information
  • Wills and Trusts

When you are finished, give this document to one or more trusted persons (such as your attorney, friend, or family member).  I would also place a copy in your safety deposit box and in a safe place in your home that is easily found by the appropriate person.

 

Paper Organizing

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A good amount of the paper that comes into your home and office can end up becoming piles of clutter.  I work with many clients to control and/or eliminate these paper piles.  Here are some tips that should help you maintain control of your paper clutter.

  • Instead of waiting to go through your paper clutter all at once, consider doing smaller paper management tasks on a regular basis.  Schedule in your calendar a 15-30 minute "paper management" block a couple of times per week.
  • Avoid looking at papers and placing them back on your desk.  Make a decision on them, and then follow through right away.  If you handle a piece of paper more than twice before taking action on it, you are wasting time, money and energy.
  • Use follow-up files (action/tickle system) to hold paperwork relating to scheduled tasks.
  • I find that magazines are like weeds — they grow and grow.  If you subscribe to a magazine and are not reading it in a timely and regular basis, cancel it.  Or even better, subscribe to the on-line version.?Don't keep magazines after you have read them.  If there is an article you believe you will want to refer back to, scan it to your computer.
  • Don't hold onto receipts longer than necessary.  Only retain business and personal receipts you need for tax purposes, for large purchases, and for items that are still under warranty.
  • Purge receipts for small items after reconciling them against your bank statement.  Use an envelope or zip-top bag to stash.