Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images
Like a runner who trains for the big race and puts all her efforts into finishing strong, we have been preparing our important documents file for a completed system. After crossing the finish line, we celebrate and maintain just like the runner who continues to run after the race.
Maintenance on your important document system will depend on how often you deal with these items. I usually have one or more documents to add or change within our system each month. Some additions and changes include:
Besides the monthly maintenance, I try to go through our entire important document file once a year where I check each set of documents for accuracy and make sure all our information is up-to-date.
On my next big maintenance check, I need to update the address of a beneficiary. He recently moved, and I will need to make sure all the accounts where he is named have the correct address to prevent any discrepancies or delays in payment or distribution.
This process is on-going. But once the system is in place, the maintenance phase is quite simple compared to the setup and preparation phase. Just like the runner who is already in shape, the maintenance process is easier than the original training.
You ran a great race, crossed the finish line, and entered into the maintenance phase. Having just setup your file, you can take a break until you need to add or change a document within your file.
Going through your entire system may not need to occur until next year. For now, enjoy your accomplishment as you endured through a large organization process. Congratulations!
Question: How does it feel to just maintain?
You did it, and it’s time to celebrate!
This process was grueling, intensive, and lengthy. In using time wisely, you have completed a HUGE project in organizing your important documents.
Your investment of time and energy will continue to pay off in the years to come as you quickly access your information and know where those documents are located.
I’m so proud of you for plugging along, taking it one step at a time, and working through this process. Whether you used the accordion filing system or created a system of your own, I hope you feel a sense of accomplishment.
What a joy to tackle those piles of paperwork that we started working on over 2 years ago. You’ve done a great job resulting in an organized filing system.
Congratulations on a job well done!
Request:When you complete the organization of your important documents, please leave a comment to let us celebrate with you and to encourage those still working. Thank you!
Similar to shopping for the ingredients, finding a recipe, and gathering the pans, bowls, and utensils, preparing your filing system before adding documents gives you the tools to finish the project.
If last week’s file box 3 overview parallels preparing to cook a dish, then this week’s show and tell is like greasing the baking dish.
This file box 3, organized in the same fashion as file box 1 and file box 2, has multiple categories. As a sample of a way to setup this file, I present a pictorial show and tell of File Box 3 of my accordion filing system.
The closed accordion file box. Imagine this, file box 3 is missing its string. Yep, all three of my file boxes operate just fine without the string. When the strings were used, they got caught on other files until they finally snapped. Without the strings, I can access these files without getting caught on other boxes which saves time and energy. Though this accordion file is different now than when first purchased, I adapted the file to fit my style.
The opened accordion file box. In using time wisely, I choose not to label each of the 12 file slots. For me, more is not always better. To stay organized, I choose to only label the categories. I used the plastic inserts that came with the accordion file to write the category title, one category per label. Some categories expand into 2 or more file openings while others only use one slot. If you prefer to label each slot, then adjust these guidelines to fit your needs.
Close-up look at the file tabs. In this file, I have used five tabs to identify the five categories in this retirement and investment file. To make the tabs easy to read, I have placed them in a row from left to right. The five categories identified in this box are:
- Social Security Documents
- Retirement Plan Documents
- Investment Documents
- Estate Planning Documents
- Tax Records Documents
Finding a system that works for you will aid in using time wisely. My file may contain more or less documents than you possess. I share my filing system to give you an organizational system framework from which to start. Please adjust this file to meet your needs.
As I cover each category, I will explain the retirement and investments Paul and I have chosen for our family. These are our choices. I am not a financial advisor, nor am I suggesting that you follow in our footsteps. My goal is to assist you in organizing your important documents.
This pictorial overview is the framework for all our important retirement and investment documents. Next week, I will begin working through file box 3 one category at a time. Come join me as we get these documents organized. Feel free to use this visual image to setup your own accordion filing system. Happy organizing!
Question: What object have you adapted to better meet your style?
Creating spaces for all your important documents clears the piles and clutter keeping you from making progress. I know it is easier said than done. I get it. But the freedom from rising above the paper clutter feels like a heavy weight lifted from your shoulders. Want that freedom? Then, let’s organize.
Maintaining a workable filing system requires trial and error. The key is workable, and what works for me will not necessarily work for you. Just keep in mind that making adjustments to better serve your needs is always better than following my system exactly.
In our document organization journey thus far, we have designated a home for personal and current items in Box 1, our insurance paperwork in Box 2, and now focus on retirement and investment records in Box 3. The filing system I have chosen houses our records in 3 blue accordion files.
Having written overviews for Box 1 and Box 2, I wanted to continue this series with an overview of Box 3. This third accordion file consists of 12 file openings. The following list indicates the categories and the number of file openings dedicated to each category in my file:
File Box 3
- Social Security Documents (1)
- Retirement Plan Documents (2)
- Investment Documents (2)
- Estate Planning Documents (5)
- Tax Records Documents (1)
Using the labels provided with my accordion file, I simply write the category on the label and attach to first file opening of each category. To give you a visual image of this file box organization, I will post a show and tell of file box 3 next week.
As you continue organizing your important documents focus on a system that works for you. If the system looks great but remains disorganized or difficult to manage, then that system is not helping you in using time wisely. A workable system will save you time and energy as you organize. In using time wisely, get your system in place, and then go organize.
Keep going. If you are still working through Box 1 or Box 2, then take a break as you need it. Then come back and keep filing your important documents into your workable system. I just want to help you find a system that works for you, keeps your documents safe, and offers you freedom from your paper clutter while using time wisely. Happy organizing!
Question: How does your important document organization differ from my accordion filing system?
Just as a writer sketches the outline before writing the first chapter, the organizer creates a filing framework before adding the first document. This second file box is organized similarly to the first box with separate categories. To put pictures with the words, I give you the following pictorial show-and-tell session of Box 2 of my accordion filing system.
The closed accordion file box. Just like Box 1, this file box is also missing its string. Without the string, I can quickly move these files around and gain access. When the strings were used, they got caught on other files until they finally snapped. Though these boxes are different now than when first purchased, I have adapted them to fit my needs.
The opened accordion file box. In using time wisely, I choose not to label each of the 13 file slots. Instead, I use the plastic inserts that came with the accordion file to label each category. Some categories extend into 2 or 3 file openings while others only house one slot. If you prefer to label each slot, then adjust these guidelines to fit your needs.
Close-up look at the file tabs. In this file, I have used nine tabs to identify the nine categories in this insurance file. To make the tabs easy to read, I have placed them in a row from left to right. The nine categories identified in this box are:
- Personal Insurance Documents
- Life Insurance
- Major Medical Insurance
- Tax-Favored Programs
- Prescription Coverage
- Dental and Vision Insurance
- Critical Illness/Cancer/Cryo-Cell Stem Cell policies
- Short-Term Disability Coverage
- Long-Term Disability Coverage
My file may contain more or less insurance documents than you possess. I share my filing system to give you an organizational system sample to assist you in tackling your important documents. Please adjust this file to meet your needs.
As I cover each category, I will explain the insurance coverage Paul and I have chosen for our family. These are our choices. I am not a financial advisor, nor am I suggesting that you carry all these insurance documents. My goal is to assist you in organizing your important documents.
This pictorial overview is the framework for all my important insurance documents and policies. Next week, I will begin working through the file one category at a time. Come join me as we get these documents organized. Feel free to use this visual image to setup your own accordion filing system. Happy organizing!
Question: How do you currently keep your insurance policies filed? Please add your answer to the comments.