Why Every Family Needs an Important Documents System

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published on February, 2014 and was updated on September 8, 2015.

With the school year starting it is the perfect time to get organized. Creating an important document system that allows you retrieve what you need easily will save you a pile of time (and sanity).

Managing paper properly is essential in keeping an organized life… And in case you missed them, we've also talked about paper in Win the War on Incoming Papers! and How a Clean Desk Can Make You More Money.

From iHeartOrganizing

Jen From iHeartOrganizing has some great ideas on how to create a very useful Family Binder

We all have important documents, but in a pinch, would you know where they are? Would your family members be able to retrieve them quickly? As a Trained Professional Organizer I want to help you accomplish this.

Jen from iHeartOrganizing has a great article called Project "Household Binder". Her post forms the basis of what I have to share here... certainly worth the read!

Brainstorm

Brainstorm all the important things you want to keep handy. This will be unique for each family, but think about what you would need in a crisis, like your house insurance policy number and contact info. Or what kind of information you need on a regular basis, such as your kids school work or your favourite take-out menus.

Create Categories

Here are some ideas for categories:

  1. School: Upcoming field trip forms, spelling words, homework
  2. Finances: Bill Paying Schedule, bills, cheque books
  3. Contact Info: From Doctors to insurance agents and policy numbers
  4. Travel: Information for kid and pet sitters, packing checklists, CPR checklist
  5. Home Maintenance: Cleaning Checklist & Home Maintenance Schedule
  6. Entertainment: List of movies they want to watch
  7. Work Ideas: A place where you could write down ideas as they come
  8. Auto Maintenance: Keep track of insurance premiums, registration due dates and regular maintenance schedules
  9. Birthday & Anniversary Lists: Make up a schedule and even keep cute to-be- mailed cards in pocket protector sheets

Jen has a separate Binder for all things Food! Which I do as well, and you can read about it in my post: Don't Become a Meal Time Monster!

Ask Questions

Before you dive into those piles of paper, you need to ask a few questions, such as: How do I like to store information? How do I like to retrieve it? What really is the best system for our family? After you answer those questions, the solutions will become clear. For our family, I've created multiple simple systems for storing important information. Since one binder just wasn't practical, we use a file cabinet for all our important documents, mostly because it can't move! Before you dive into those piles of paper, you need to ask a few questions, such as:

  • How do I like to store information?
  • How do I like to retrieve it?
  • What really is the best system for our family?

After you answer those questions, the solutions will become clear.

For our family, I've created multiple simple systems for storing important information. Since one binder just wasn't practical, we use a file cabinet for all our important documents, mostly because it can't move!

Before you dive into those piles of paper, you need to ask a few questions, such as: How do I like to store information?

For our important contact information we use our phones. We always have them on or near our person, so it's easy information retrieval. That way we have what we need on the go!

Password Management

We have a separate system for organizing all our passwords, a handy password organizer book which we keep by our computer, right where we need it.
However If you are more online savvy, you could consider a service like LastPass as well.

Keep Going

All this gathering of information will take time. But don't give up just because it's a big job. Just start gathering your important documents and piece by piece it will come together. You may use one system or multiple systems like our family. The important part is that you know where it is and how to get it quickly!

Just start gathering your important documents and piece by piece it will come together.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.


Annalisa Sawatzky is a Pastor's wife and Mother of 2, who holds a Bachelor of Applied Design in Interior Design. Annalisa became a Trained Professional Organizer, and in 2012 started…

Learn more about Annalisa Sawatzky