Technology

Organizing Your Paperwork – A Tickler File System

It’s the beginning of a new year. One of my favorite times of the year because that means I get to start over with our filing system. I can look back and evaluate how my system from the last year has worked or not.

I thought I’d share what I used last year, The Tickler File System:

What you need:

  • A file box or file drawer depending on your preference. (I like to have mine on the desk so I found a nice looking one for the desk.)
  • 43 file folders-I would recommend using 5-tab file folders not the 3-tab one’s that I used. It would just look nicer in my opinion
  • A label machine or labels– I just saw a really great labeler at Staples last week for only $15.
  • Your pile of bills, appointment cards, birthday card you have to send, directions, travel plans, letters, reports,

All you have to do is label your file folders with #1-31(for each day of the month) and one for each month of the year.

Day files

Monthly Files

And you’re all set! Really it’s that simple!

Take your pile of paperwork and start to fill up your system. For bills I usually put them in 7 days prior to their due date. If I have to RSVP I put it in about 3-4 days before the RSVP date (I have major irritations with people who don’t RSVP, more ranting on that later…)

You can also customize your files by adding one or more of the following:

Read – Articles, letter or other correspondences you need to read.
Send—Mail to go out, letters to write or notes about items you need to send.
Errands—Holds shopping lists, claim receipts, or other paperwork you need for an errand.
Call—To store phone messages until you have time to return calls
Data Entry—Addresses, phone numbers, business cards to enter into address book and/or contact management system. Paperwork that need to be scanned into the computer.
Calendars—Keep all of your Personal appointments, notes about upcoming events, school games and more. Once a week grab this folder and enter all of these appointments into your main calendar.

I think it’s important to keep it simple! The key to making this work is to keep it up. Checking your folders daily, weekly and monthly is crucial.

If you have a hard time keeping track of all of the odd paperwork, forget to pay bills or just want a simple way to organize these papers – try it out! I think you’ll like it!

I’m still working on my filing system for 2011. I hope to have it all finished soon. I’m trying to find the right balance between a paper based system and paper-free system. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

What problems do you have with organizing your papers at home or in the office? Have you found a solution that works for you?

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