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October 08, 2007


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Cynthia Friedlob, The Thoughtful Consumer

Ouch. This post really hits close to home!

I hate filing and have always resisted buying "fancy" tools. For example, I recently purchased a few cheap little plastic letter holders that proved to be totally useless for one of my new alleged organizing systems I was trying out. I had to toss them and buy something more suitable.

I've always resisted the color coding of files, too. I tried it once and it drove me nuts when I ran out of the "correct" color file! Perfectionism can be sooooo annoying.

However, I'm inspired now to take the time to go through my filing cabinets and make some new files that line up the tabs in a less random fashion. You know: organized. I may even try the dreaded color-coding again and think of it as an art project. At least it would make opening a file drawer a more cheerful prospect -- well, maybe!

Ariane Benefit

Hi Cynthia! You make a good point about the colorcoding. Most people think they have to buy a different color for every category and then they'll need to have a huge stock of different colors. Not necessary! Just pick one or 2 favorite colors and use the same colors for everything! For example, I use Purple (the color of wealth) for client folders and financial financial. I use bright yellow (the color of cheerfulness and mental stimulation) for most everything else. I also have some red folder that I use very hot project or reference stuff. I use them sparingly so they stand out.

Using only one color you love is much better than using the institutional green color that reminds everyone of being at work!

You can also use the position of your tabs to indicate a category or subcategory. For example, in my financial files, I have insurances to the left in a line. Monthly bills in the center and investments & retirement accounts to the right. It makes it much easier to keep up with filing. I also keep all financial in one drawer and all personal, household and medical in another drawer. My business projects and reference files are in another drawer. Archives - in our den!

Cynthia Friedlob, The Thoughtful Consumer

Your idea of choosing only a couple of favorite colors for the files is very interesting. I, of course, was one of those people you mentioned who tried to have a whole bunch of colors for all the different categories. Definitely requires too many supplies -- and too much memory strain (now, what color are the household files . . .?).

I do have everything sorted into different filing cabinet drawers and the categories are set up properly, so at least there aren't any surprises there. But I'm definitely going to move those darn tabs! It's actually sort of odd that my perfectionist tendencies didn't force me to line them up in the first place. And they'll be so much more aesthetically pleasing in neat rows -- that appeals to the artist in me!


Jeri Dansky

Yes, yes, yes! Having tools you love to use makes such a difference - for organizing paper and everything else! On the paper side, I'd also suggest having a good-quality shredder.

Cynthia, I agree with Ariane: You don't need to go overboard with color coding; just use colors you like. I dislike plain manilla folders - they are a soul-sapping color to me - so I don't have any.

Oddly enough, I wound up with some of the same colors Ariane is using. My client files are lavender, fellow members of my networking group are in yellow, and the few other file folders I have can be any of the other colors I have around. My hanging files are a random collection of colors.

Brandie Kajino

Great article! Organizing requires good quality tools if it's going to stick. If you start with tools that are inadequate, your patience and persistence will quickly fade. So, buck up and spend that eight dollars on some quality folders. Rock on Ariane! :)

Ariane Benefit

Hi Jerri and Brandie, Great to hear from you! I haven't had much time to spend blogging or in the blogosphere lately. It's good to see you! Next week...the topic will be Categories....would love to get your input on that one! : )


Great series. Thanks for the info on getting off junk mail lists!!


I'm guilty. Thanks for the great reminder that file folders are there to be used, not saved!

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