I wanted to write a quick blog on what I believe to be the most useable and seam free way of organising your home paperwork. I get asked about this all of the time and although many may see it as obvious I think there are so many storage solutions out there to cater for this area it is difficult to know which ones work and which don’t.
In my opinion (which it goes without saying you don’t have to listen to at all!) the below it what works for me and my clients when I introduce them to it and I have not yet had a single complaint. More in fact a big sigh of relief.
I would say about 20% of my bookings are for paperwork re-organisation. For some reason it is one of those tasks that has us stumped. People not only hate doing it and avoid it like the plague but in my opinion they have it all wrong. Once a simple system is in place there really is nothing to fear/ avoid/ dread!
A common problem I come across when ‘fixing’ systems already in place is the very incorrect idea that the more sections/ dividers/ labels (and complication!) then the better the system. Personally what I think this does is create an avoidance of the task. If simple filing becomes to complicated and long winded then it also becomes a bigger job to think about doing and more likely to be one that is put off.
So working backwords – we avoid the filing and instead have piles…this is because we also avoid the opening mail in the first place…..therefore we avoid completion if any action is needed….bad all round and exactly how you can get in a right pickle!
So anyway, here are my simple solutions and methods for the working, practical home paperwork system.
1. The 3 tier filing trays. As you will see they have 3 clearly labelled sections:
1-POST – Obvious really but in other words this is your inbox.
From here you open your mail and put it either the 2-ACTION tray or the 3-FILE tray.
This is a really straight forward method but it’s amazing how many people have nothing in place even slightly like it. Instead they have piles of paperwork and unopened mail lying around the house with no home, shuffling about and gathering dust…
You can buy these drawers in so many colours and materials to match your home. They don;t have to be clinical, plastic or too office like. Have a look in your local high street stationers as well as home-ware sections of department stores.
Labels for your drawers don;t have to be to detailed. You will know what’s where by the brief description on the front. How ofter do we need bills for example? Put them all together in one drawer rather than separating them out? The same for ‘Car’ ‘Mortgage’ ‘IR’ (Inland Revenue) ‘Health’ ‘Home Insurance’ ‘Travel’ etc etc…
2. Invest in one of my favorite paperwork storage items, the 10 drawer filing drawers. No hole punches, no dividers just back to basics simple.
The process? Well again so easy. You take your filing pile and instead of hole punching, sectioning, pulling the right folder down from the shelf. Instead you simply open the drawer and pop it in. Obviously the most recent items will be on top.
No need to sift through if you need to find something just pull the whole pile out.
I usually find if there are children in the house or even pets it may be useful to invest in two of these. You don’t want to run out of drawers.
Again these come in a range of colours and sizes. Usually in a metal finish. They sell (depending on the brand) from around £50 – £150. The ones I used in this photograph were £71 from a leading online stationer.
3. The Ten Second Rule
You should be able to open a piece of mail, access ‘file’ or ‘action’ and put it in the correct pile within ten seconds easily! So even with a big bunch of mail it would only take a couple of minutes maximum to get it in the correct place. So way do we dread it so much?
Hopefully these systems will mean you won’t.
Allow a day to get everything in place as it should be then just enjoy how little time it takes up in the future.