“Organization” defined by Merriam-Webster is to “arrange into a structured whole; order”; “to arrange or order things so that they can be found or used easily and quickly.”
Are your files and papers doing the for you? Can you find what you need quickly and do you only have the papers you need – no excess? Few of us can say yes to both of these questions. The reality is, over time papers build up. File cabinets get full and it all gets slower and harder. But there’s an easy way to keep your filing system lean, mean and efficient. With self-purging files.
So, what is a self-purging file and where do you get such a magical thing? Well, you already own it. It’s all in how you set up your files.
Self-purging files are exactly that – files that purge themselves without thought from you. All you need is a box of file folders and a label maker and you’re on your way.
I have a few go-to systems I use with my clients all the time. Here are my favorites:
This one is super-simple. Just create 12 folders, one for each month. Throughout the month anything that comes in to keep put it in the month you received it. 12 months later, when you go to file something in that month it will be full from a year ago – get rid of anything you don’t still need (99% of it most likely) and begin using for the current month. That’s it! You now have a 1 year record of bills, events, receipts and anything else. All the time.
Let’s imagine for a minute you have an insurance category. Within that, you have, car, house, and a home maintenance plan. As the old one expires you replace it with the new one, throwing away the expired policy. Did you see what just happened there? Just the current info all in one file. And no need to remember to purge.
Okay, how about kids stuff. You have a file or binder for the year. As artwork and fliers come home you slide them in. When the year ends, pull out any favorite artwork (we’ve got blog posts and videos on how to manage that too!) and throw away the rest. Yes, the entire year of fliers can just go into the trash before the new year starts.
This is a file purging system that makes sure you have what you need when you need it and makes sure that you’re not hanging onto old expired junk.
Now, your tax documents, mortgage, and other sensitive banking information you need to check with the appropriate professional on how long to hold on to it but there is no need to hold onto multiple copies of the same information. If you need duplicates consider putting it onto a digital format, but even a digital system benefits from a self-purging system. The cloud might be limitless but that doesn’t mean we need to pile up useless information there.
Creating this system is quick and easy, but you need to give yourself space to get used to using it. This is a lifelong skill that will give you peace of mind. Being able to put your hands on important documents when you need them and knowing they are up to date, is amazing. And not looking at overstuffed cabinets with the “one day I’ll purge” thought – priceless.
What self-purging files can you think of? Let me know in the comments below!
She has special experience with organization for office, financial, ADD/ADHD, elderly, disabled, overwhelmed and special needs. With the belief that cluttered people are some of the most creative and interesting people she knows, she loves working with her clients in a supportive and loving environment.
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