Some people have the kind of lives that don’t require records. I have come to accept that I don’t have that life, so I need a strategy for dealing with all of the files, paper and electronic.
I have adopted a few strategies over the past 15 years or so that work most of the time. As long as I stick stuff in the folders. 🙂 When I need to find something, date seems the most reliable method and I can recall with good accuracy when something transpired.
For email, I use a month-year filing system. I have 12 folders per year, one for each month and I file 99% of emails by date.*
*For work, I have a few other folders: freelancers, orders/receipts and a folder for emails from my boss. I used to keep a “To read” folder, but now I read things straightaway and post them to Slack for the good of the team and for future reference.
For paper, I use monthly folders, too. One of the advantages of this method is at the end of every year, the files can go in a box and at the end of seven years, I can shred the contents of the box.
I create a new set of folders every year. I have a similar set at work.
For paper files, I do have additional folders for:
- Important papers
- Each of my dogs and cat
- Health insurance information
- Portfolio samples
- Each car
- Each house
- Tax information and receipts for the current tax year
I have some other folders, too, but jury’s out on whether they are actually helpful.
From Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/taxes/how-long-to-keep-tax-documents/
From FEMA: Safeguarding valuable papers
Ready to organize those files?