Saturday, January 07, 2006


From the title of my blog maybe you can guess that I am not the best person at maintaining orderly files. I am 37 years old and I have never had a filing system nor had I ever completed all my filing.

Until today.

My "to be filed" bin was about 8 inches high and included some choice items from 2004 and 2003. It also contained every statement from each account I had opened this year (Fidelity Roth, Fidelity IRA, ING, Emigrant, HSBC ... well, you get the picture). The worse problem was my I had no system, which is why filing was so onerous. My main problem was that each piece of paper had multiple associations for me and I had trouble picking one and creating a system (that might be a symptom of the ADD...)

It's ironic that I am usually pretty good about a yearly cleanout of out of date papers (shredapalooza and recyclepalooza of course) and I would usually make progress on my filing during that event, but I'd never managed to truly have it organized or to feel I could manage my filing. It was time.

A year ago (that's right...a year ago) when I was starting this blog, I came across David Bach's suggestions for creating a filing system. Today, I used that as inspiration and LaLa and I spent the entire afternoon and evening wrangling paper. I'm a little pooped.

My system may need some refining, but now I can tell where something goes...and how to find it. Small miracles, people...small miracles.

I start 2006 fully filed. It's a beautiful thing.



  1. It's never too late! I just finished filing a year's worth myself as well. I hope this 2006 will see me filing away immediately as things come in.

  2. Now I remember why I am reading your blog. We are in a similar situation, and seem to be similiar types of people. I am 37 as well, and this year I instituted 43 folders filing system. I used to file, but I didn't even realize that I had NO organizational system! Hence:
    GTD David Allen's "Getting things Done" came into my life. Get it. You will profit enormously from it.
    I promise...

  3. In our house, my wife used to pay the bills. This created a huge stack of files in our kitchen cabinet so we dreaded going through and filing it all.

    Now I pay all the bills and have a system in place each time I do it:

    -Open the bill and remove all non-identifiable parts. (promotions, envelopes etc)
    -Throw away all non-identifiable parts.
    -Electronically pay the bill
    -Hold the bill in a desktop filer for one week until I confirm payment was made
    -File bills from the desktop holder to the filing cabinet

    This has worked out great. It creates tiny chunks of work that are easy to do. Because they are in my desktop holder, I see them until I file them. Now we never have to perform the annual "file everything under the sun" routine.

  4. Reality Bites, I actually bought GTD ::: cringe ::: LAST YEAR! That book looks perfect for me (I too found it via 43Folders) but I was so overwhelmed with trying to change so many things at once that I haven't been motivated enough to dig in and read it. I *do* think this is my year and I know I'll be "getting" to Getting Things Done soon. Thanks for the recommendation, its just more reason to crack it open.

  5. Caitlin, I love the filing system that David Bach suggests. I crave organization, and his system is really simple. Thanks for sharing!

  6. hmm, the day that your wire in-basket has fewer papers than mine is a cause to celebrate... and motivation to clean out my in-basket.

  7. I used David Bach's system too. I really like it - especially for insurance and such. I used to have a color coated file system, but I changed it to match David's system. Now banking and savings accounts are GREEN, insurance is BLUE (for safety), Retirement is ORANGE, and credit card debt, of course is RED.

  8. Kira, I like the idea of color coding (and I do like those associations you listed) but I found that to be even too much for me LOL While my system isn't monochromatic (I have different colored hanging folders vs. manila folder) its as close as I could get without buying new stuff.

    I am finding the lesser amount of visual stimuli to be helpful for me. I *do* have ADD so this may be related. I *wish* the color coded thing worked well for me becaue I love bright colors.

    Thanks for your comments!


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