Friday, February 05, 2010

Keeping Papers - The Portable File Box

Have you ever gone on a paper chase? I see you nodding. Yes, I have too...usually in a panic about one thing or another.

Some of you have read my posts before about the papers on the dining room table (and in my purse, and on the chair, and falling from the chair to the floor). Where do all these papers come from, considering we have computers these days? It seems I have a compulsion to go through each paper individually to decide its worth, put it in a pile to file, or in a bag to shred. Yes, I do need to systematize that first sorting process better.

Even though I have lots of papers - and the occasional panic attack while searching for one, many of the papers I need can be found at a moment's notice. And that's what I'd really like to share with you today. How do we keep track of papers that we really need? It took me years to develop simple ways to keep track of papers.

First and foremost, I keep the really essential papers in a portable file. I started this box when we lived in Los Angeles and were taught to prepare for an earthquake. In this box is a file for each person in the family. Each of the files contains three manila envelopes or sub-folders: medical, school, and certificates. These files are not comprehensive; just the essentials.

The medical files principally include immunization records (particularly helpful if you relocate or even if you change doctors).

Included in the certificates files are such documents as birth, baptism, passport for anyone who has one, proof of a disability, etc.

The school file might include report cards, but primarily any diplomas. This isn't the place for all those projects...though you might want to keep a newsclipping or poem that's especially precious.

An automobile file can carry the vehicle title, but not all the maintenance receipts. In other words, this box is just for the essentials.

Does this box have to be perfect? Is mine perfect? No. As I used to say, "It's better to do a half-way job than no job at all," meaning: Don't procrastinate because you don't have every detail down pat. My folders don't all contain every paper that they should. And they do contain some things that should be elsewhere. But at least I know I can put my hand on most of the most important papers at a moment's notice.

Next time I will tell you how I keep other papers. In the meantime, do you have ideas about how to keep the most important papers? Or how to tweak the system?

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