How to set up a home filing system that doesn’t suck

One thing I have noticed progressing through the years is that with responsibility comes paperwork. That may take the form of leases, deeds, partnership agreements, licenses, certificates, invitations, etc. All these things come, and you need to keep track of them. Having the vague goal of “staying organized” will work for a little while but leads to a stressful drawer of loose papers.

If you have a system, a set of rules, if you will, on how to handle these then staying organized can become effortless and, once implemented, can be deeply satisfying.

After a year or so of tinkering, I am ready to present a simple home organizing system that is easy to implement and uphold.

How it works:

  • First, you’ll need
    • Your preferred cloud provider (google drive, drop box, etc.).
    • A digital calendar (google calendar, outlook, etc.).
    • External hard drive.
  • The goal is to be almost paperless. Very important papers (marriage license, deed, etc.) go in your filing cabinet. Everything else will get scanned, uploaded, and then shredded.
  • The key is to organize your cloud, filing cabinet, and external hard-drive in a similar format and have it so clearly labeled that anyone could figure it out.
  • Papers received typically fall into one of four categories
    • Very important (license, deed, tax information, etc.) ➡ these end up getting stored in all three locations
    • Moderate importance (confirmations, doctor’s visit information, etc.) ➡ these get scanned, uploaded, then shredded.
    • Unimportant (advertisements, etc.) ➡ immediately thrown away.
    • Invitations ➡ RSVP, add to calendar (for weddings add the website to the notes section of the calendar event), thrown away.
  • The workflow will look like this:

That’s it! Once set up you will never worry about misplacing something and you will have an uncluttered counter 😉

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