While more and more of our lives are computerised these days, most of us still have some need for a physical filing system—be it for birth certificates or electricity bills. Or, more pertinently, for keeping everything in one place come tax time.
Look, filing is a bore (at least for most people). But there are ways to make it more bearable! Here are a few quick tips to get you started on finding a cabinet that’ll make any filing session more exciting.
FIND A FILING CABINET WHICH FITS IN WITH YOUR DÉCOR
While the standard grey steel filing cabinet might be trusty and reliable, it’s certainly not the prettiest to look at. Nor is it likely to help you out when trying to convince yourself not to put off that filing session any longer.
This is why you should try to find a filing cabinet that goes with the rest of your décor. It all comes down to the basic proposition that if you like the look of something, you’ll pay more attention to it. So if genuinely like how a filing cabinet complements your home office, chances are you’re going to be using it a lot more!
FOCUS ON FUNCTIONALITY
Anyone who’s ever had an expanding file explode on them knows to value functionality in a filing cabinet above all else. After all, you’re never going to use a filing cabinet which isn’t up for the job!
So, when browsing in-store (or looking at product pictures online) have a checklist in your mind: you want the drawer runners to be smooth, the knobs to be serviceable, and the drawers to be built for strength.
GIVE YOUR FILING CABINET AN APPROPRIATE HOME
The extent to which a filing cabinet is useful (and used) is very much dependent on where it lives in your home. The best filing cabinet in the world isn’t going to see much use if you have to climb fifteen flights of stairs and perform a ritual dance to access it!
The most important thing about finding a home for your filing cabinet is to ensure it’s convenient—even if the location might seem odd at first. I have mine in the kitchen, for example. But if you’re unsure, you’ll be safe keeping your filing cabinet in a home office or study, or any communal area really. If you’ve got to put it somewhere strange like the hallway, dining room, or indeed a kitchen, make sure you arrange your décor so it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.
THE DELIGHT IS IN THE DETAIL
Just because a filing cabinet might be used for boring purposes doesn’t mean it should have no personality. Crystal knobs, for example, can give depth and dimension to an otherwise plain filing cabinet.
LASTLY: MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW TO FILE!
Although buying a new filing cabinet might help you signal your intention to organise your life more systematically, there’s really no point spending your hard-earned cash on this piece of furniture if you’re not going to bother filing properly.
Like many things in life, filing is best when it’s simple. All you need is a basic system. Here’s what we recommend:
- Find all your documents. It’s worth doing this initial search as extensively as possible, as the whole point of having a filing cabinet is to store all the important documents of your life in one place.
- Shred and recycle the documents you cannot see yourself ever needing again. But if there’s even a 1% chance that you might need that document in the future, don’t ditch it! (Also be aware of your legal obligations. If your government(s), employer(s), bank(s), etc., need you to keep certain documents for a certain period of time, you should keep them.)
- Categorise, then sub-categorise. Many filing cabinets are organised A–Z by default, and you can then sub-categorise each letter of the alphabet with headings appropriate for your needs (e.g. tax, bills, etc.).
- Repeat the above steps regularly. If filing makes you feel like death, you can probably get away with only doing it once a year (just after the end of the financial year). But if you have any significant changes in your life—e.g. with your will, finances, new employment contracts, births or deaths in the family, and so on—you should be filing more often.