The 5 Most Common Filing Mistakes & How to Fix Them - Part 1

Ariane Benefit

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Let’s face it. No one actually loves filing. But most people who really hate filing are actually doing things that make filing much more painful than it needs to be. Here are 5 of the most common filing mistakes along with ways to make filing much easier!

  1. Overstuffing your files.

    If your file drawers are overstuffed, of course you hate to file! You should always have at least 6-10 inches of space available. That way you can easily spread open a file with one hand and drop your paper in with the other hand. If your drawers are overstuffed, I guarantee you are keeping too much paper! Start cleaning out 3 files a day and before you know it, you will have an easy-to-use file drawer again.

  2. Using hanging folders and then putting a regular folder inside the hanging folder. There really is no need for folders inside hanging folders for the average filing system. Some professional organizer will disagree, but I stopped doing this many years ago and am so glad I did. It’s so much simpler and easier! I spend a lot less time filing and it takes less than 20 seconds to add a new file. Plus I save money on folders!
  3. Keeping mail in envelopes. This makes your files extremely bulky, and makes it very difficult to find what you need.

    It also creates extra steps when paying bills. When you open your mail, toss everything but the bill itself and the envelope you need to mail the bill. Lay it out flat, note the date you paid the bill on the bill itself and then immediately file it.

  4. Putting company names on labels instead of generic names like “Mortgage”. If you use the company name, you have to create a new folder every time the company changes name or you refinance, etc. Need I say more?
  5. Hand writing labels using a regular pen.

    This makes it nearly impossible for anyone to help you file. If you don’t want to use your computer to print out filing labels, invest in a label maker such as a P-touch system. If you prefer to hand write your labels, write neatly, and use a thick black Sharpie.

    I recommend getting 3.5 inch plastic tabs so you can write long titles easily and plain white self-stick filing labels. You can also stick the labels directly on the plastic tabs.

© 2006 Ariane Benefit, Neat Living. All rights reserved.

Ariane Benefit is a professional organizer, speaker, and author of the popular Neat Living Blog at which provides free organizing tips, home makeover photos and much more. Her mission is to inspire people to simplify, clear clutter, and organize so they can live a life they love! She provides simple practical organizing solutions for people who just want a neater, simpler, less stressful life – not a perfect one. She can be found on the web at


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