I must begin by confessing that until a few years ago I was quite messy with my paperwork. Then I learned Mark Forster's filing system.
Here's how it works:
1: First of all you'll need:
- One (or more, if needed) ring binder;
- Many plastic sleeves (optional);
- One hole puncher.
2: Whenever you have something new to file, just punch holes in it, or put it inside one of the plastic sleeves (these plastic sleeves work well for small items, like receipts, or for documents that you don't wish to punch holes in), and then file it on top of all the documents already filed.
3: After you consult a filed document, return it to the binder by filing it on top of all the other filed documents.
And that's it.
What happens is that the most used documents will always be at the front, easily accessible. And you'll have a good idea of where each file is, based on the time that has passed since you last consulted it.
I used this system for about 4-5 years for my general documents like bank statements, warranties, university letters, etc. I never lost anything, and could always find the important documents. Since this system is so simple, I always used it.
Eventually I had 3 binders with accumulated documents, which made the task of finding important documents a bit more difficult. So recently I decided to purge these 3 binders. I got rid of all the no longer needed documents, until everything could easily fit in just one binder. I then created the rule of never having more than one binder of filed paperwork!
I also created 5 categories: "Purchases and sales", "Health and identification", "University", "Finances and car", and "Others". I use the "filing on top rule" within each one of these categories so that I can continue to rapidly file and access the most used documents.
Easy and simple! Ideal for people who, like me, tend to procrastinate when using complex filing systems ;)