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Perfect Your Home Office Filing System

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: John Garger•updated: 2/18/2010

Almost everyone has a problem with papers accumulating in their home office. That’s why every home office needs a filing cabinet, filing drawer, collapsible file folder, or some other way to manage the paper you collect. Learn how to create an effective filing system for your home office.

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    How to Create a Filing System

    If you have yet to set up a filing system in your home office, you should make doing so a top priority. It’s not that difficult or expensive; you only need to go through all of the papers you want to keep and organize them into like piles. Then, look at each pile and create a file (or files) for the paperwork you need to keep. Here are some ideas for file names, to help you create a filing system for papers you should hang on to for the long term:

    * Automobiles - service records, titles, maintenance schedules.

    * Certificates - birth, death, wedding, graduations, certifications, stocks, bonds, passports, wills.

    * Credit - credit card information, saved bills, bills to pay, phone numbers to call if a card is lost or stolen, credit card numbers.

    * Correspondence - family, friends, coworkers, business associates.

    * Employment - resumes, photos, cover letters, IRAs, employee benefits.

    * Health records - claims, reports, lists of medications and side effects, doctor’s names and addresses.

    * Insurance Policies - health, home owners, auto, flood, disaster, life.

    * Personal - nutrition, diseases, elder care, photos of possessions, hobbies, crafts, invention ideas, book ideas, personal property inventory list.

    * Papers - divorce, custody, adoption, mortgage, loan, property deeds, social security card, voter registration card.

    * Passwords and codes - software, Web sites, administrator passwords, etc. Just make sure to encode or hide them.

    * Tax records - copies of forms, receipts, past tax files.

    * Warranties - receipts, warranty documents, phone numbers, serial numbers, and model numbers.

    * User guides - yard equipment, kitchen appliances, computers, printers, scanners, sewing machines, hand tools.

    And here are some things you can throw away:

    * Newspaper clippings - articles, recipes, coupons, places you’d like to eat, and anything else you no longer need or want to file.

    * Banking - old ATM receipts, deposit slips, bank and credit card statements over a year old (unless you need them for tax records), expired ATM or credit cards (be sure to cut in half).

    * Junk - grocery receipts, notes to yourself, to do lists, honey do lists, expired paperwork for any kind of policy, especially auto and health, pay stubs, paid phone, electric, water, and utility bills.

    * Memorabilia - ticket stubs, photos you never look at, letters, hotel keys, old car keys, dried flowers, old love letters, anything that’s expired, things you’ve printed from your computer, old calendars.

    Remember, an organized home office is also a productive home office!

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    More Information

    How to Cope when Your Home Office is also the Dining Room Table

    Expand Your Home Office: Utilize Your Utility or Laundry Room