Can you believe how many crazy papers you get in the snail mail and e-mail every day? I feel so overwhelmed by all of them, especially by the fact that so many of the papers are considered "important". Even in this digital age, My Main Man and I can't shake the feeling that it's important to keep a hold of all those papers (rather than just scanning them in) and we even print certain e-mails and digital receipts that seem important. We don't mean to be wasteful, we just want to keep all of our bases covered!
With such a thick stack of papers stacking up, I saw a major need for a good organization system. Of course, there are plenty of options for important documentation organization floating around the internet, but it can't hurt for me to throw in my two cents. I'll lay this out like a tutorial in case you feel like following along!
- (1) Large 3-Ring Binder*
- Plastic Page Protectors
-3 Hole Punch**
*I bought a 4" binder from Staples when they had a rewards event happening. Even though the binder was about $20, we had all that money refunded in a $20 voucher that can be used for anything at Staples.
**I am ghetto so I use a single hole punch and use notebook paper as a template for where to punch my holes.
1) Gather any papers that are too important to throw away, but not important enough to keep in a fire safe. (You should definitely keep things like social security cards, birth certificates, etc in a fire safe!)
2) Create divisions for your papers. I have (7) divisions so far: Taxes, Bank Accounts, Student Loans, Utilities, Auto, Health, and Payroll. Some of these may be useless or redundant for you, so edit as necessary.
3) Print on your cardstock paper. I printed a cover for the binder, which listed all the divisions (kind of like a loose table of contents). Then I also printed one cover page for each section. On that cover page I listed my subdivisions as well, which varied depending on the section. (For example, the Bank Accounts section had subdivisions for each account.)
4) Start filling your notebook. First stuff each cardstock cover page in a page protector and set in the binder. I realize that labeled binder dividers would be good solution for some sections, but I wanted to use page protectors so I could stuff small, loose papers in the pockets. I also printed my subdivisions of pieces of cardstock, but I hole punched those so they don't stick out as far and the primary divisions. Then start placing the important papers in the binder. Punch holes in the papers and place them in their respective sections. I made one exception to the hold punching rule: taxes. I would really hate to accidentally punch out an important dollar value on one of our forms, so I just stuff them all in a page protector.
5) Maintain your binder. Like I said before, I get "important" papers on a nearly daily basis. I keep a basket on the corner of my desk, and My Main Man and I use the basket as a dumping ground for all of those papers. Every so often I sort through the papers and file them into the binder. Even though the initially organizing phase took a decent chunk of time, maintenance is amazingly quick and easy--perhaps 10 minutes at the end of every week.
So how do you stay organized?