I didn’t always own a file cabinet. During my 25-year business career, I always had multiple file cabinets in my office, but I never even considered owning one at home. I viewed file cabinets as clunky metal things that didn’t fit into any type of home décor.
A few years before I left Corporate America , my supervisor worked with an efficiency expert who got all her papers in order. She was so impressed that she authorized all of her direct reports to do the same. I was already pretty organized, but thought, hey, why not? I’m always up for learning how to do things better.
I did indeed learn a great method for organizing papers, and I started thinking about how this could help me at home. I purchased a lateral wooden file cabinet in an innocuous wooden finish and got started pulling together all the papers in my home.
Until then, I had been storing important papers in manila folders that lived in my bottom desk drawer. I had binders of financial papers on my bookshelf, tax records in the closet, manuals in kitchen cabinets. I went hunting through every nook and cranny and pulled out all of my papers. Then I customized the method that I had learned at work to accommodate the categories I needed at home.
My motto became, “If it’s paper, it goes in the file cabinet”. I was amazed how this simplified my life. I freed up so much space in other areas of my apartment. And I developed the ability to find any paper I owned in less than 60 seconds.
Of course, with freedom comes responsibility. To keep my file cabinet in trim working order means constant vigilance. When I see that a particular folder is getting too fat, I pull it out and purge old papers — or sometimes divide the contents into two categories. This ensures that I can continue to easily find what I am looking for when I need it.
My lateral file cabinet has been replaced with a fine-looking pair of hand-painted Chinese file cabinets. They are so attractive that I keep them in the living room. The day of the clunky old metal cabinet is behind us.
Do you have papers all over your home? Consider getting a file cabinet as a focal point for all your papers. It will simplify your life — and we can all use more simplicity.