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Gain Control with Minimal Filing Using FreedomFiler

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Gain Control with Minimal Filing Using FreedomFiler

Gain Control with Minimal Filing Using FreedomFiler

When I crossed over fiscal and calendar years at work, I was reminded of the paper storm that used to await me in my home system this time of year. I used to create annual folders to store paper copies of bills, receipts, and other important documents–that is until I discovered an easier way.

Though I’ve reduced paper greatly by using paperless statements and tracking things electronically, I’ve still got a fair amount in my house.

Introducing FreedomFiler

Stay organized with minimal time spent filing.

FreedomFiler organizes files using color-coded labels designed to work easily with standard hanging folders. The colors indicate you how long documents are kept, and the filing labels are created to be used over and over again. Better yet, when it is time to re-use a file, the system begs you to refile (most of which goes to the shredder) the existing materials found within–making it as close to self-purging as a filing system gets.

Dazzling feature #1: the rolling 10-year tax archive

Tax documents are set up in a rotating, self-purging system by way of having a folder with Year ending in 0, year ending in 1, Year ending in 2, etc. In my system right now you’ll find 2003 taxes in the Year ending in 3 folder. Once my 2013 taxes are complete, I will be prompted to boot 2003 when I approach the Year ending in 3 folder. Because there are 10 different numbers, tax document folders will be reused, thus information purged, every 10 years. Hip!

Freedom Filer Dec moveDazzling feature #2: the rolling 24-month catch all

Most systems separate financial papers, bills, receipts, etc. into separate folders. Not this one. All those papers are dropped–brilliantly co-mingled style–into their month folder. These monthly folders are labeled for reuse by the sinfully smart way of having a set for odd-numbered years and a set for even-numbered years. (If the co-mingling doesn’t seem like enough separation for you, don’t fret. When you need to access a specific item, chances are you will know the date within a month and have to only look through one or two folders to find it.) Right now I’m filing receipts into the February even-year folder. When I got my first February receipt, I was prompted to purge the receipts and statements from February 2012. Hip!

Dazzling feature #3: the beautiful labels

You know how I feel about beautiful labels. Even a label snob like me consider their labels beautiful. Each filing section is color-coded for easy locating. All files fit nicely into one drawer for a clear view of a rainbow of important folders. Hooray!

  • Red = permanent
    • Vital family records
    • Docs needed for selling valuables (home, car)
  • Orange = remove/replace
    • Periodically updated
    • Insurance policies, leases, service contracts
    • Whenever a new document is added, the older one is removed
  • Blue = tax (light = current year; dark = archive)
    • Documents & expense records
    • Black & white to distinguish odd- & even-ending years
  • Green = month folders
    • Quickly file all other docs
    • Petty receipts, paid bills, statement
    • Black & white to distinguish odd- & even-ending years
  • Purple = resource files
    • Fun stuff
    • Articles & literature

Dazzling feature #4: the end-of-year swap

Rather than an end-of-year storm, there is a quick switch–swapping out the even year for the odd as pictured:

freedomfiler end of year swap

Steps to implement

Supplies & time needed

You’ll need roughly 75 hanging file folders, 85 clear tabs, a file tote or cleared drawer, tiny binder clips, and a black Sharpie. Labeling a subset to start will take roughly 30 minutes. Then you’ll need at least 3-10 hours to push all your papers into the system. I recommend starting with setting up the monthly files.

Demo video

Discount code

If decide to go for it, email me at jan @ sparkproductivity dot com for a discount code. Though I only serve as a virtual productivity coach, I am thrilled to share this tool and would happily cheer you on from afar.

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Sue Becker Spark Productivity trainer, Sue Becker, works with people and organizations that want to do and achieve more — and feel more fulfilled in the process.
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