Sunday, September 04, 2011

2011 To Do List, Item #7: Organizing files

One of my big commitments for 2011 was to get my personal records in order (#7). As an archivist, I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that my record-keeping practices at home are severely lacking!  I let papers build up in various corners around the apartment. Every once and awhile I sort through them, but usually just sort through and make neater piles around the apartment. Ho hum. I've been itching for a file cabinet for awhile just to keep these papers all in one place, or at least keep them out of sight.

Step #1: Cull!

This involved going through file by file purging paper that builds up over the years. Do I really need power bills from 2006? Or phone bills from 2004? Income tax files from 1996? Oh my! I didn't quite realise I had them back that long. Purge purge purge! I have quite a stack building for the shredder or for recycling.

Step #2: Organize! 
As I'm working my way through the files, I'm realising that I don't need a filing cabinet afterall. I already have all that I need - an accordian file folder, a desk file holder, and a plastic file box on wheels. I can condense all these stacks of paper, plus a bankers box, down to fit into these. And also I'll have better control over what I have. No more sifting through stacks of paper. Hooray!

My day-to-day files - bills, tax receipts, etc.- go in my desk file holder, so that I can easily file after I pay the bills and prevent build-up. The other personal records - banking information, medical records, vet records, etc., go in the accordian file folder. Practically speaking, if ever there's an emergency this makes the most cruicial records easy to grab-and-go. And the file box will hold all the extras - the papers I've accumulated about various subjects, or instruction manuals/receipts for appliances/electronics that I'm not ready to part with.

It's very satisfying to have all my papers in their right place.

I would still like to have a filing cabinet at some point, but I'm leaning more towards converting a storage bench for hanging file storage. The bench could be painted to match my Ikea Alve Secretary desk (an off-white), padded with a pretty fabric, and used for both seating and file storage.
Inspiration for this idea is here:

Courtesy of Martha

I still have a couple organization projects I need to tackle in the coming months:

1. A household inventory. Home (or Tenant's) Insurance usually asks that you inventory your belongings for insurance purposes. But how many of us actually do that?  I'm going to guess, not many. I'd like to do a photo inventory + basic list of electronics, model numbers, etc., and scan the receipts to hold on file in case there's an emergency. Always good to be prepared, right?

2. Photographs (digital and prints). This has been on my To Do List for ages, and never gets done....mostly because it's a bit daunting. I have never been in the habit of printing photographs, or backing them up on CDs (they're backed up on my external hard drive which is now 5-6 years old). Time to do something about this before it's too late and they're lost.

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