These are physical file folders – usually hanging – that hold the papers necessary to complete routine actions. I urge clients to put these in an attractive box in the area where the mail enters the home or office.
Professional looking labeling is also important. Use Microsoft Word, Smead Viewables software, or a hand held label maker to make printed labels. Hand – write the labels only if you have incredible handwriting – and some of you do.
I have a mantra: It must be in your face. In other words you cannot hide the permanent action files in a drawer, closet or cabinet and expect the system to work. The reason for this is simple. It must be as easy to file as it is to pile.
My Top 10 Favorite Permanent Action Files:
- Bills to pay: This is the folder where you drop the bills to pay as they come in to your home or office. I recommend that you leave the bill in its original envelope so that the return envelope doesn’t get separated from the bill. It is easier to recognize a specific bill by its outside envelope. You can also drop in solicitations for donations if you are considering those. Payment books go here too. It doesn’t hurt to keep a few return address labels in your Bills to Pay folder too.
- Events to attend: This is the folder to store invitations, directions to events, and tickets to events. Make sure that you have recorded these on your calendar before dropping the documents into the folder.
- Purchases to consider: This is the place to store flyers, postcards, advertisements, or catalog clippings for items or services that you are considering purchasing.
- Waiting for: Put the paper associated with an action that is incomplete in this file. The action may be incomplete because you are waiting for a response from someone else, or you are waiting for the appropriate time to take action. Some examples would be, a prescription that needs to be filled later, the purchase confirmation for something that you’ve ordered, copies of official documents that have been filed with official or government agencies.
- Errands to run: A folder to drop receipts for items to return or pick up. Put checks or cash to deposit in this folder. This would be a good place to put items to take to your safe deposit box.
- Reconcile: A place to drop bank deposit receipts, check card receipts and the bank statement until you are ready to reconcile the account.
- Data entry: Addresses to enter or notes to enter.
- Expenses to record: I use this file for business receipts that need to be entered on my expense sheet. A home owner wanting to track household expenses could use it to hold receipts until they are entered into Quicken or Microsoft Money.
- Coupons to clip and file: A holding place for the Sunday coupon insert or cash register coupons until you have time to put them into your coupon system. (set up this file only if you are a coupon user)
- Computer research: Clippings, notes or articles listing website URL’s that you want to visit.
One More Important thing
You may want to have a couple of project files in your Action File box too. There are usually specific actions and related papers associated with projects. I would recommend starting with all of these action files. Later on, if you find that you don’t need some of them; eliminate them. Remember, find an attractive box, make nice labels for the folders and keep it in your face. I guarantee you will get more done and eliminate a lot of paper clutter.
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