Get it Together, Part 2

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of chatting with a friend about all this filing business.  I love when the older two are at school, the youngest is taking a nap, and the four-year-old gets lost in his little pirate world so that I can have a conversation with a friend and fold some laundry or tidy up the house.  But, as you know from yesterday’s post, I have fallen way behind in my filing duties.  So my girlfriend and I chatted away — it’s tricky to talk and file simultaneously, so she did most of the talking — and, I kid you not, I made it through two-thirds of this pile:

Then, after carpool, I brought what was left up to the kitchen table and finished my project while the children did their after-school-crazy-all-talking-at-the-same-time-and-eating-snacks-and-refusing-to-get-changed-out-of-their-uniforms dance.  It was a great distraction for me, because I really struggle with this time of the day.  Before I knew it, the pile was filed and the kids had finished their little dance performance.

I am so relieved now that all the paperwork is organized!  I wanted to share a little bit more with you about why it didn’t take me so long to complete this project.  Please, just keep in mind, that we keep our filing cabinet in our unfinished basement, so the photos may not be the best.  Eventually, we would like to keep this filing system in our office upstairs, but for now, it works for us to have it in our storage space.

The File Solutions system includes the labels for the front of your file cabinet drawers.

The system also includes labels for your hanging files and sticker labels for the folders that you put in the hanging files.  Best of all, there is a book that tells you what sorts of papers and documents you should put in each folder.

The top drawer is for personal files.  We had plenty of room left, so I put all of the manuals we have for appliances, electronics, toys, games, etc., in the back of this drawer.

The second drawer is labeled “Financial.”

The third is for “Taxes and Insurance” paperwork.

And the fourth is labeled “Lifestyle.”

I have created a “landing pad” for paperwork on my kitchen counter that looks like this:

The small envelopes are for receipts.  We have one envelope for each of our credit cards, and one for cash and debit card receipts.  We throw away all grocery receipts and keep the rest.

One file holds the information I need for one child’s activity and another child’s preschool tuition that I pay for monthly.  I put a reminder on my Google Calendar to pay these bills to avoid late fees.  This system works great for me.  The remaining files are temporary storage.  One is labeled “To Photograph.”  This is where I put the children’s artwork as it comes home throughout the week.  That way, when Friday rolls around, I have it all ready to photograph it and either hang it up in our playroom for a little while, or throw it away.  See yesterday’s post to understand how on earth I get away with this.

Another file is the “To File” file.  Good grief.  My hope is that, now that I have caught up with all the paperwork, I will take this file down once a week and either shred what we don’t need to keep, or file what’s important.

I have an “Urgent” file for things that need to be addressed ASAP.  For example, a note to myself to make a doctor’s appointment, field trip forms, a form from the DMV to renew my driver’s license, a form to fill out for the children to attend our Parish’s Vacation Bible School this summer, and the like.

There is a file for weekly/monthly letters from the children’s teachers.  This one is tricky.  Sometimes I put these on the fridge, but I find that their presence just annoys me.  So what I’ve started doing is putting important dates on my Google Calendar with alerts as needed.  That way, if there is a book report due, or someone needs to bring their favorite book to school, or it’s Spirit Wear Day, I will get a text in advance.  This system is working out great for me.  It really helps me help the children to stay on top of things.

In the kitchen, I have a weekly and monthly dry-erase board calendar from The Board Dudes.  I do this mainly for the kids.  They like to be able to see what events are coming up, when they have a day off from school or a half-day, or when someone is coming over to visit or stay.  I like it because I’m instilling in them organizational skills from a very young age.

Then in Smarty Pants and Dimples’ closets, I have a smaller weekly calendar where we write the day the have P.E., library, soccer practice, Irish Dance, and whatever else pertains to them specifically.  This helps them to remember what uniform they need to wear, or to put their library book in their backpack, or if they’re going to have practice that evening.

If I have just completely overwhelmed you, please know, Rome was not built in a day.  I started the File Solutions system in 2008, the dry-erase board calendars less than a year ago, and the kitchen landing pad a month ago.  Do what works for your family and do it at your own pace. The goal, for me at least, is to keep stress at bay.

One last note, I received a question in the Comments Box and thought I would answer it here as well.  The question was from Erin regarding what paperwork you should keep and what you can pitch and when.  I think this post sums it up very well:

Money Girl:  Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life, How Long to Keep Financial Records

So to all of you organizers out there as crazy as me, happy filing!

Categories: Homemaking

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3 Responses to Get it Together, Part 2

  1. You’ve inspired me! I am trying to tackle the paperwork monster myself right now and this was just what I needed to read!

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