Most people have a contentious relationship with paperwork, and we get it. Nobody likes to pay bills or deal with a notice. Consequently, people avoid it all together — resulting in piled up papers, misplaced forms, and overall overwhelm.
The key to feeling effortlessly on top of all those papers is to have a foolproof system. The “Active File System” reduces the amount of time spent dealing with paper. When you have a solid system, an activity becomes easier and more efficient to manage.
If all you have is a file cabinet for archived papers, there’s a huge gap in your system. Mail, field trip forms, kids art, and other miscellaneous papers that come into your home need a place to land. Try setting up a reliable system that makes filing a “no brainer.” When it becomes simple for papers to go directly into the filing cabinet, your kid’s backpack, or the shredder, your home will become a well-oiled machine.
To avoid the paper piles, we recommend the SIMPLY SPACED Active Files System to all of our friends, clients, and readers. This essential system includes labeled landing spots and maintenance habits so that you’ll know exactly where your papers are. With an active filing system, you keep only what you need, reduce the tendency to procrastinate, and spend as little time on paperwork as humanly possible.
Here’s how to set up the SIMPLY SPACED Active Files System in your own home, including four designated landing spots for incoming papers. You can use desktop files, magazine files, or wall pockets, and the system will be the same. Here’s how we label and set it up:
1) TO PROCESS
Think of this section as the home for “incoming” papers. This is the landing spot for mail that needs to be opened and yet to be read paperwork. This section screams “figure out what needs to happen with me!” The ‘pre-decision’ papers.
2) TO DO
Any paper that requires a bit of action should land right here. This could include a bill that needs to be paid or a notice from your bank that needs to be reread. Think of these papers as items that you know exactly what needs to be done, but you just need to sit down and crank it out when you have the time to tackle them.
BONUS: Keep this section active or schedule one day week to batch your to-dos. Our advice is to write the check the moment the bill comes in or call your bank right after you open the envelope. But life happens, just get to it asap, without stressing yourself out. The labeled file will help you find that action item and keep you organized till you can get to it.
3) TO FILE
Any paper that you’ve dealt with but need to keep lands here. The idea is to collect 5-10 pieces of paper here before heading over to the filing cabinet to slip them in their designated homes. This will make the process of filing papers more efficient because you’ll be ‘batching’ the task rather than doing them one by one. Most people don’t enjoy opening their file cabinet, so this will reduce the need to make it happen daily.
If papers tend to not leave your home on schedule, this will help. This section is for mail that’s ready to go to the mailbox, papers that need to land in the kid’s backpack, or slips that need to go with you to the office. Make sure to check this slot before you leave the house so you don’t forget to take these with you!
Five of our fave product options for your Active File System: