What is the Best Way to Organize Files?

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  • Written By: Lauren Romano
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2019
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Keeping paperwork in order can help you to find papers when you need them without having to search all over. Some people may not take the time to organize files because they are not sure where to begin, but it is important to keep everything in order and uncluttered. While having organized files may seem unlikely, especially if you are currently looking at an overflowing file cabinet, it is very doable.

There are those that may be unsure how long they should keep their papers. As long as your papers are essential for tax purposes, it is important to hold onto them from January until your taxes are finished the following year. After completion of your taxes, your accountant can advise how much longer you should keep the paperwork. Papers regarding your taxes, medical records, retirement and savings accounts and housing records should be kept permanently. Papers that are relevant to your expensive items such as jewelry, cars, and antiques should also be kept permanently. Credit card statements you may want to keep for seven years and utility bills you can usually keep for about a year.


When you want to organize files, you can save yourself a lot of time and space if you get rid of what you do not need. Place each paper on a pile with other corresponding papers and whatever you do not want put on another pile to shred. After you downsize, you know exactly how much room you need for your files.

Manila folders are useful when it comes time to organize files. Write on the tab what each folder contains and put the folders in alphabetical order. File the papers contained in each folder into date order, for example, put the older papers in the back and the newer ones in the front. Not only is this easier for finding what you need, but for when you need to clean the folders out as well.

Paper files are not the only files that can get unorganized; digital files can as well. In order to know what you need to organize, go through every area of your computer and clean out files that you no longer need, whether they are pictures or documents. If you still want the files, consider transferring them onto a USB memory key or onto a blank CD.

In order to organize files, you should designate a specific spot for each of them. Just as you would for paper files, make individual folders on the computer according to specific categories. For example, group your work projects together in one folder and photos from a certain family vacation in another and label them accordingly. Whether you need them or decide you want to delete them in the future, you know exactly where to find them. To make sure everything stays organized, remember to correctly label each digital file that you save and put it into the corresponding folder.

Having unsystematic files can lead you to be frazzled and frustrated, but if you organize them once, you may not have to do them again. Keeping them organized continually will prevent you from having to spend time going through the initial organization process all over again. Taking the time to organize files can result in you being able to find what you need when you need it without an exhaustive search process. In addition, having your files organized in one place will prevent them from becoming clutter that overflows into the rest of your home.


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