Paper Management, Part 2

Quick Access Files:  Don’t Live an Organized Life Without Them!

Last time in “Help, My Kitchen is My File Cabinet”, I referred to the universal problem of overwhelming amounts of paperwork, and the resulting piles that usually end up in the kitchen. A large part of the solution to this problem is the creation of Quick Access Files. Quick Access Files are just that……….files that you need to access often and quickly. Don’t let the word file in Quick Access Files throw you. These are files containing different information than we generally keep in our regular filing cabinet. Quick Access Files are files that you will need for a season and/or you need to access often. They are filled with the papers that are otherwise taped to our refrigerator, stuck on the bulletin board or, all too often, piled up next to the phone or on the kitchen table.

Not Your Mother's File Box!

To create Quick Access Files, gather up all the bits of information lying around and plastered to the surfaces in your kitchen. Then separate them into logical categories. Because each of our lives and habits are different, each of our Quick Access Files will be different as well. You may end up with:

  • A file for each school, which will hold current phone lists, school calendars, announcements, and newsletters.
  • A file for every sports team or club
  • Or you may choose to create a file for each child in which you could place all their papers for their individual school, sports, and clubs.
  • A file for volunteer organizations, which will hold current phone lists, announcements, schedules, and newsletters
  • A doctor/dentist file with contact information and appointment cards (which you will drop in the file AFTER you write the appointment on your calendar)
  • A file for prescriptions, which will hold patient information for any current prescriptions that your family members are using
  • A file for take out menus
  • A file for parties and invitations (which you drop in AFTER you write the appointment on the calendar)
  • A file for coupons and gift cards

    Basic File Box by See Jane Work

For many of these categories you will also have a file in your regular file cabinet. For instance, each child will have an Education file in your regular files, in which you will place all their permanent records, report cards and testing information. Each person will have a Medical file, which will hold immunization records, surgery, allergy and all permanent medical records.

The papers, invitations, schedules, announcements, appointment reminders, and take out menus in our Quick Access File are generally used for a season and then discarded or updated. At the end of a school year or sports season, for example, most of the contents of the Quick Access File will be discarded. Any important or permanent information or documents, however, will be added to your regular long term filing system, and your Quick Access Files will be ready for the new season.

With the addition of just a few categories, with corresponding files, you will have a complete system to deal with your mail on a daily basis.

  • To Do
  • To Pay
  • To File (anything that simply needs to be transferred to your long term filing system)

Now that you have created your own Quick Access Files, I suggest that you keep them in your main living area, which is usually the kitchen or family room. This is generally the place that you bring in and drop your mail, you walk in with files and papers from meetings and appointments, and your children bring you papers to sign, fill out and file away.

I have heard people say that they don’t want a file box sitting in their living area. May I kindly suggest, that a small, nice looking file box (think attractive and presentable) looks much nicer than a pile of papers in disarray!

Check out some of the links to file boxes and files in this article, or find your own. Be creative. There are 100’s of options available in every style. Find your own style.

A Cool Vintage File Box

If you have ever worked with me, attended one of my workshops,  or followed my blog for any length of time, this concept is not new to you. If you already have Quick Access Files, the New Year is the perfect time to revamp them.  Simply sort through each file and:

  • First of all; decide if you still need each file

    A Beautiful Alternative to Manila!

  • Toss any obsolete information
  • File anything that should be transferred over to your Permanent Filing System
  • Determine if you need to add any new categories – (do you have any new information hanging on the fridge or piled up on the kitchen table?)

It’s the perfect time for a fresh start!
Happy (and Organized!) days!

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