Monday, August 6, 2007

A Well-Organized Filing Cabinet

A well-organized filing cabinet is helpful and time-saving for any family, but especially homeschoolers. Besides the obvious drawers for taxes, bills, receipts, warranties, etc. it would be helpful to have a file drawer for each child to keep any necessary state paperwork, papers from your homeschool program (if you use one), important records and samples of work and special mementos. Get your children involved by having them file some of the materials themselves so that the piece of paper in question never has a chance to drop on the floor!

The way I organize my files is this: First, from many years of experience in the secretarial field, I'm a firm believer in good quality hanging file folders. I don't buy anything except Pendaflex, because everything else I've seen falls apart after too short a time. (I've never had any problems with any of the brands of manila insert folders though - I think that any brand is fine). Colored folders can be nice for keeping things better organized, but aren't essential. I have six basic categories (one or two drawers for each).

General home and family records: These drawers cover all the usual bills, receipts and paperwork which we need to keep for at least a few years for reference. I purchased alphabet tabs for these and have a file for each alphabetical segment (A-B), (C-D), etc. These alphabetical folders have tabs that line up along the left-hand side. Miscellaneous things, like a one-time charity donation or a receipt for an odd household item, get filed in these alphabetical folders. The alphabetical folders have an additional purpose of keeping my individual folders alphabetically organized. I have two categories of individual folders - general categories (like Telephone or Computer, which might have several manila folders in each) and very specific folders like "such-and-such Bank" or "Home Insurance". I line my general categories up (behind the alphabetical hanging folders) with the tabs lined up down the middle. The more specific folders are filed either behind the appropriate alphabetical folder or the general category they fall under (for example, I would place a "Platinum One" folder behind the "Credit Card" folder, but would place something like "Sam's Club Membership" directly behind the "S" folder). I have the specific folder tabs lined up along the right side.

Long-term records and special keepsakes: This drawer is higher up to keep things out of children's hands and stores more important documents such as tax materials, medical and legal records and a folder for each of the children with very special mementos that I know I want to keep long-term.

School records: I have one drawer just for school record keeping. In this drawer I keep general student work, newsletters from our homeschool program, etc.

School materials: I have one drawer, organized by subject, in which I keep tidbits from various subjects that I might want to use with my children at various points - particularly articles I want to save, things I print from the Internet, etc.

Children's Artwork and Misc.: One of the bottom file drawers has files for the children to save their artwork or other "less-essential" paperwork that they can't yet bear to part with. I sort through it occasionally (very occasionally! ) to take out things I'd especially like to save and move them to the "special keepsakes" folders.

Other useful drawers might include one drawer each for Mom and Dad to keep papers from work, special projects, hobbies, etc.

1 comment:

The Fishman said...

I happen to love Pendaflex myself. Nothing better on the market!