Sorting out filing systems
Month-by-month. If you don't have a lot of different suppliers and vendors to pay and don't own a lot of credit cards, setting things up month by month can be a great way to organize your paper files, says Morgenstern. You can even buy a self-contained accordion file if space is at a premium. If you find you have too many bills and statements to sort through each month, you can set up such subcategories as bank, utility, credit card.
Subject or category. Choose topics such as "insurance," "bills to pay," "auto," "Johnny's soccer," to file your different papers and then file alphabetically. Feel free to further subdivide by category, for example, by having a general folder for credit cards and then separate folders for each credit card company that you do business with.
Color-coded. Korey is a big fan of using color-coded folders or folder labels so you can tell at a glance what's in a folder. Financial folders can be green; social invitations, red, and insurance policies, blue.
Action, hold onto, reference. Karli Bertocchi, of Organized with Style near Chicago, recommends a filing system in which you put bills, wedding invitations, magazine renewals and other items that require a timely response in an "action" file. If you have a lot of action items, you may want to get a circular file so you can assign specific due dates. For example, put RSVPs under the third of the month if you need to reply before the 10th of the month. Legal documents, such as wills or insurance policies, go in a safe place. A separate folder could be for current items that you may need to refer to, such as warranties, receipts for bills paid, etc.
Once you adopt a filing system, stick with it. Don't fall back into bad habits or delay filing so long that it will take a whole day's effort to file everything. Instead, chip away at your filing. Set aside a little time each day or at least once a week to file.
And if your papers fall into disarray because of illness or more pressing work-related deadlines, don't give up. Instead, schedule time to get things back in order once you have more free time. Tackle the problem a little bit at a time.
In other words, set achievable goals. Before you know it, you'll be back to being organized.