A family file is the home’s best defense against paper clutter. Usually clutter is a result of items that don’t have a place – a family file provides this much needed place. It’s important to keep the file, weed it out frequently (about once a week), and get in the habit of using it. Please note that the Family File should only keep papers that you need to use or reference frequently. Papers that do not need to be referenced frequently, such as contracts you have signed or your mortgage paperwork, should be kept in a Safe File System.
Here’s a list of the files that I have in my Family File and would suggest including in yours. You’ll probably have more that are not listed here – do what works best for you.
Files to Keep
- To Do, Urgent: this should be the first file in the folder – I go through this file daily so nothing falls through the cracks; examples are bills to be paid, cards to be written, and items of mail that require a response – you can even write “to do list” notes to yourself and keep them in this file
- To Do, Less Urgent: examples will vary widely of what is included in this file and usually includes notes to myself of to do items and less urgent mail
- File for Each Family Member: includes papers for activities in which they participate, and school or work papers
- One File for Each Month: I keep a list in each month’s file of all the birthdays and anniversaries for each month so I know which cards and gifts I’ll need to send; I also keep a list of any annual responsibilities that need to be taken care of that month, and items I will be using at some point during that month (such as concert tickets)
- Crafts or Activities: This file contains magazine articles, print outs of web pages, or written down ideas of activities I’d like to complete in my free time such as scrapbooking ideas, patterns for knitting, or crafts I’d like to do with my kids
- Group Coupons Purchased: This file includes printed coupons that have been purchased through a service such as Groupon or LivingSocial. Because these coupons expire after a few months, you don’t want them to go to waste – it’s good to keep them accessible.