Filing systems typically have too much stuff, and therefore have a lot of paperwork that is not important or necessary to keep in a filing system. Purging this unnecessary paper is discussed in an earlier article (linked below), but here we discuss how to categorize file organizing systems..
File Organizing is Categorization
File organization, when brought down to the most basic level, is simply categorizing like items together. However, because there is so much information, and determining where to put the information and deciding which pieces of information to keep can often be confusing, it is one of the most asked about organizing tasks.
The most important detail about how to file are categories. File systems need to be sectioned by category, and not alphabetically as the standard used to be. The most common categories for home filing systems include: financial, personal, medical, and household. Within each of these categories there should be subcategories.
- Financial could have banking, credit, investments, and taxes
- Medical could have dental, vital records, prescriptions, and insurance
- Personal could have school, auto, vacation, and goals
- Household could have warranties, insurance, and inventory
The categories and subcategories should be custom to meet individual needs. If necessary, within the subcategories, break it down further by name or date; for example, warranties could be broken down further to have TV, Computer, Laptop, and so on; School could have Jill’s school, Danny’s school, and so on.
Organize Files With a Color Coded System
File organizing should be color coded to make information easier to find. Limit the colors used to three to five colors. If there are more, it can get too confusing. The goal is to keep it simple.
Each color needs to correspond to a main category.
- Blue could be medical
- Orange could be personal
- Green could be financial
- Red could be household
There are no rules to follow, but the colors should work for you personally. Pick a color that is an immediate reminder for the category. Colors are especially important for the medical category, in case there is ever an emergency in which any family member needs to quickly locate information.
Labels and Tab Positions
For the labels, use a white background to ensure that the labels are easy to read against the colored background. Keep labels on the same tab position per category to avoid the scattered look.