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70 File Cabinet Organization Categories to Help You Conquer Your Paperwork

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Files have a funny way of multiplying. If your home office filing cabinet is overflowing – then consider creating some file cabinet organization categories to keep things under control.

However, before you begin, it is a good idea to make a plan.

Assess Your Available Space

The first thing you need to do is figure out how many file drawers you have available.

If you have just one drawer – then basically everything will need to fit inside.

Ideally, you will have a few drawers available.

This way you have the option use each drawer for a different category.

You may find that you don't have much space at all – in which case you might want to take a look at some of these fun file cabinets for your home office and do a little upgrade.

Take a Close Look at Your Paperwork

The next step is to survey the paperwork that you actually need to organize.

What type of documents do you need to file away? Some common types include:

  • Bank statements
  • User manuals
  • Kids papers
  • Medical records
  • Real estate information

Look at what you have and divide things into piles based on commonalities.

Basically each pile can become a category.

Of course, everyone's situation is different.

So, below, I will outline some common categories and subcategories that people use to organize their own file cabinets.

Depending on how many files you have, you can either designate a whole drawer to one category – financial information, for example – or just a few files to that category – bank statements, credit cards, etc.

Gather Your Supplies

I don't like to put the cart before the horse, but it is a good idea to pull together a few supplies before you get started.

You probably won't know exactly what you need until you've mapped out your categories, but at the same time you don't want to create a big mess and have nowhere to put it.

So here are a few things you might want to have on hand.

Sample File Cabinet Categories and Subcategories

You can use each item in this list as it's own category or you can group related files together as subcategories in one bigger hanging file or file drawer.

  1. Financial information
  2. Bank statements
  3. Credit card statements
  4. 401K statements
  5. Paystubs
  6. Pension info
  7. Social security info
  8. Tax documents – current year
  9. Tax documents – prior years
  10. Loans
  11. Mortgage
  12. 2nd mortgage
  13. Monthly bills
  14. Bills to pay
  15. Documents to scan
  16. Papers to file
  17. Budgeting
  18. Financial planning and research
  19. Utilities
  20. Real estate transactions
  21. Home improvement
  22. Insurance
  23. Life insurance
  24. Car insurance
  25. Home insurance
  26. Renter insurance
  27. Umbrella insurance
  28. Insurance for products
  29. Passwords
  30. Family
  31. Self
  32. Kids
  33. School information
  34. Spouse
  35. Parents
  36. Pets
  37. Legal papers
  38. Wills
  39. Automobile titles
  40. Boat information
  41. Marriage license
  42. Birth certificates
  43. Divorce papers
  44. Diplomas
  45. Licensing and professional papers
  46. Medical info – per family member
  47. Medical bills
  48. Medical doctor contact info
  49. Product manuals
  50. Home inventory
  51. Valuable item documentation – jewelry, electronics, etc
  52. Recipes – you want to try
  53. Recipes – tried and true
  54. Ideas – for craft projects, writing, other hobbies
  55. Travel
  56. Airline cards
  57. AAA
  58. Hotel cards
  59. Passports
  60. Destination research
  61. Maps
  62. Memberships
  63. Alumni associations
  64. Professional organizations
  65. Subscriptions
  66. Business Information
  67. Photographs
  68. Letters
  69. Memorabilia
  70. Coupons

Examples of How I Use Categories

I know that a big list of categories can be overwhelming, so I will give you some examples of how I arrange my own file cabinet.

Current To Do Items

The drawer within closest reach to my home office desk is the one the I use the most.

This contains file folders for the things I need to get done now:

  • bills to pay
  • documents to scan
  • paperwork to file

Family Information

I also have folders in this drawer for each member of the family.

My kids are young adults and largely responsible for their own schoolwork etc.

But sometimes I get mail or important documents that pertain to them.

So I put these items in their folders and once a week or so, I will sit down with them and go through the collection.

Monthly Bills

I use another file drawer for filing away financial information including monthly bills.

Over the years I have gone back and forth between two methods for filing my monthly bills.

Some years I have used one folder per each type of bill – so phone bills in one folder, electric in another etc.

Other years, I just create a folder for the month and file all the different bills in the monthly folder.

Things are a little more complex now that many bills arrive via email – but digital organizing is a topic for a whole different post. 😉

Your Organization System Is Your Own

Use the categories above to create an organization system that is unique to you.

It also helps to write your plan down, especially if you don't finish organizing in one session.

This way you can easily pick up where you left off.

Happy Organizing!

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