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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Do one out files

At the beginning of each new year, I dedicate time to organize my home and office by clearing out the old, wherever I find it.  I am going to invite you along on this journey and encourage you to join me by working on the the same areas in your house.

The first post of each month this year will be called Do One Thing and I'll choose a different area to concentrate on.  We'll have one full month to work on that area.  Please keep me posted on your progress...

This month, we'll clear out and organize our files.  If this sounds like a big job, then just choose specific files or one drawer of file. Just do one thing for this month.

Admittedly, my files are not too cluttered.  But even I find that after a year of going in and out of drawers and searching for papers, the filing drawer needs some attention.

Supplies that may be needed:  hanging files, file folders, labels, an electronic labeler, stapler, storage boxes for archiving files and a shredder.

I start by pulling out one file at a time and going through it.  Note that I do not keep both a file folder and a hanging file for each subject.  I just use the hanging file to hold all my papers.  If a file has one or more division, I add file folders.  For example, I have 2 cats, so in my Cats hanging file, I have a dedicated folder for each of them.

Then a go about determining which papers within the file I need to keep on hand for the next year and which papers I can shred or archive.

My archive boxes represent things that I must keep by law, for taxes or because they have historical value to me.  My archive boxes are kept in my storage area.  Each archive box has a destroy date or SAVE label.   If you have a large amount of files to archive, numbering each box and keeping a record of what is in each archive box is a good idea.

As a professional organizer, I get asked all the time how long papers must be kept.  First, check with your tax professional.  You can also visit these sites: IRS , Consumer Reports .  Other records, like vital documents (birth certificates, etc.) should be kept forever.  Remember that if you own property, you want to keep improvements records until you sell the property.

You've a whole month, do as much as you can and try and have fun with it!


  1. Almost middle of January, and, me - also a professional organizer, has NO desire to organize my files ;( Need to figure out some motivation...

  2. Sorry to hear, but when the time is right, I'm sure you'll be successful.


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