How to Create a Filing System



Even those of us who don't officially work from home need an efficient household filing system to keep on top of important documentation such as bank statements, insurance documents, and even emergency numbers for home repair and maintenance. If you do have a home office, the importance of creating a filing system that works for you is even more paramount.

What do you need to keep?

For a simple household filing system, you should hold onto two years' worth of bills, all insurance documents, credit card and bank statements, and any local council notifications such as council tax statements. One or two ring binders with dividers is probably sufficient for this, if you're discarding outdated documents on a regular basis.

Filing Systems

For a home office, investing in a small filing cabinet with labelled suspension files for each project or client will serve you better. Lever arch files are excellent for keeping current project documents in order on your desk, or for archiving completed work.

How long should you keep it?

If you are self-employed, you should keep any and all documents (including receipts) relating to your earnings and business for a period of seven years. This could potentially require extensive filing storage space, so if you don't have room at home, you may wish to look at dedicated companies who deal with this.

Householders who don't have an obligation to keep documents for possible tax purposes should keep items for at least two years. For important one-off items such as birth and marriage certificates and passports, a lockable tin filing box is an excellent purchase.

Filing for the disorganised

There is no excuse for not keeping your documents within at least some kind of reach even if you are very busy and disorganised. If you really do not have time to do the filing, again, keeping all paperwork in lever arch files for each month does at least mean that you have a rough idea of where that piece of paper you need urgently might be.

What else?

Documents do have to be discarded from time to time, and a good cross-cut shredder is essential for making sure that your confidential information remains confidential. Don't leave addresses or financial details in a vulnerable place where they can be used for criminal purposes.

It's worth putting some thought into the filing system that will work best for you - by date, by type, or in alphabetical order.

Author:

Carl Barton is a director of Office Allsorts who has worked in the office products industry for 15 years.

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