Stressed out by a piece of paper: I just spent an hour looking for a receipt that I needed to return something I had bought a few weeks ago. Normally I file things straight away – either into my In Tray or in a filing cabinet, but I must have been distracted.
I put the receipt somewhere that seemed sensible at the time – the problem was that I had lots of things on my mind so I promptly forgot what I had done.
So, not only did I waste an hour looking for the receipt, by the end of the hour my stress levels had risen and I felt quite cranky – and that happened just because I didn’t stick to my normal routine of filing.
Do you or other members of your family forget where important papers are?
Do your children lose their homework instructions?
If this happens to you, now is a good time to set up a filing system – for everyone in the family, even for children as young as 5 years old.
The Best Way to Store Papers and Documents
The method I recommend is for each person in your family to store their papers in suspension files which are kept in that person’s plastic filing box (or a proper filing cabinet).
I set this up for my daughter when she was 5 years old and it was surprising how her attitude to her belongings changed – she started looking after her things much better, and became much more interested in writing and drawing because she had her own materials and they were easy to find when she wanted them.
She had separate files for:
- information about her bike
- cards and letters
- operating instructions
- blank paper
- scrap paper
- and so on.
To go with the filing box I also bought her containers for her desk to store stationery items such as pens, pencils, paper clips, sticky tape, staplers, rulers and glue.
Get Motivated to File
Most people hate filing their papers – they often have the intention of getting around to filing them – sometime.
Children often ‘store’ things at the bottom of their school bags or in a pile in their locker – maybe never to be seen again.
Setting up a system that makes it easy to file papers, and easy to find those papers again takes the stress out of filing so you or your child will be much more motivated to keep doing it.
The secret to becoming good at filing is to make sure that:
When you file any bit of paper you will be able it find it again a year later in less than 30 seconds.
That’s why I have suggested a suspension file system so you can group files that are related, or store them in alphabetical order.
For example, High School students should have about 4 or 5 files for each subject such as:
Notes and Handouts
Tests and Exams
Colour-coding the files by subject is a good way to organise the files. Using a cardboard wallet file for each subject is a good way to store current work so it can travel to and from school without being lost.
Other Ways to Improve Your Filing – Filing on Your Computer
Learn about ways to store your computer files so you can always find them when you need them here.
Find out about clever ways to name files so you can find them more easily, as well as backing up your files here.
High Performance Learning
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