Simple Filing

Maintaining a simple filing system is difficult enough. One of the best things you can do is come up with a filing system that will meet your needs.

This page will talk about the easiest way to find a filing system that will be effective and meet those needs. This can be done very quickly through the Easy-PIM system.

Begin by taking a look at what you need to file. You probably have documentation, paperwork, and all kinds of notes all over the place (even in the kitchen). The first thing you need to do is collect all of this in one spot. Go everywhere there it is in your house that you might have stuffed that piece of paper or put it aside so you can refer to it again. I always suggest that you put all of this in a big box. You might want to decorate it to make it look nice. That way you’ll have it all in one place. Once you get it all in one place, guess what, you’ve started your simple filing system!

The next step is to identify what type of documents you have. The easiest way to do this is to separate them into categories. I often suggest there are only four types of documents you have. Those would be Personal Records, Assets, Liabilities, and Insurance papers.

For a more through explanation of each of the categories go here.

Go through this box of documents one at a time and sort them into the different categories. One thing to note is this: there is no right or wrong as to which category a document belongs. If it makes sense to you, then that is what it is. For some suggestions you can download a list here.

As you are doing the sorting of each document ask yourself a few questions. Those questions would be:

  1. Will I need this document in the next year? An example would be a copy of your auto insurance.
  2. Do I need to keep this document for long-term reference? An example would be your mortgage documents.
  3. Is this a bill that will need to be paid as soon, or a document I will need to refer to? An example would be your electric bill, credit card statement, or bank account statement.
  4. Is this document strictly for reference? Is it a reference I will need sometime soon? An example of this would be somebody’s business card.

If the document does not meet one of these four criteria chances are you can throw it away. You’ll have to use your own judgment on this but make sure you’re not keeping documentation just for the sake of keeping it. If you are looking at a document for last year’s auto insurance and you have received a new document for this year’s auto insurance, dispose of the prior year. There is no need to keep it.

If you use this methodology on every piece of paper in your big box you will find you have a lot less to file than you thought you would. Purging those documents can make a big difference in your paperwork mess.

The once you could finish this sorting you should have a big pile of paperwork to destroy, and four piles for each of the individual categories. Technically now you have a simple filing system. If you want to leave it like this, it is a workable system, but probably not efficient.

So if you want to make it efficient start making files for each type of document in each file. So for instance in your personal records file you will make a file for birth certificates and all the birth certificates in the family will go in that file. If the next piece of paper in the pile is documents from a membership organization, put that in another file and label it accordingly.

You do not have to complete organizing the simple filing system for each pile all at once. You can take a few documents at a time and file them appropriately. Before you know it you will have all the files categorized, documented, and in a system that will be efficient and work for your family.

Even if you need one of the documents before you get the filing system completed you know where it is. It’s in the big box! Isn’t it much easier when everything is in the same place?

And that is what simple filing is about! It really isn’t difficult to get this under control.

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