Home filing systems can be tedious to set up, but once you’ve got them organized, they will change your life forever. Never again question where you put your birth certificate or that refrigerator warranty. In this post, we’ll cover how to choose a file cabinet, how to choose file folders, and home filing cabinet system categories that will get your household organized once and for all.
When choosing a home filing cabinet, consider whether or not you need it to lock. Many cabinets have this ability, but it may be less prudent for home use. What documents will you store in it? Should those documents be protected by a lock and key? If you need a locked filing cabinet, ensure that all drawers are able to lock shut before making a purchase.
Size comes down to determining how much storage you require. Think about how much storage you currently need and how much you may need down the road. How can you grow into your filing cabinets? Do you have space for a second cabinet beside the first? Consider your vertical vs. horizontal space to decide if you’ll expand out or need a tall cabinet to begin with.
Do you need to move your filing cabinet around? Many filing cabinets are equipped with wheels so that they can easily move around your home or office. If you won’t need to move your cabinet, choose one without wheels so that it won’t wiggle on you.
What do you want your cabinet to look like? Do you want it to blend in or stand out? Consider color, texture, and drawer handle design. Choose a cabinet that matches the aesthetic of your home, or one that fits into the design of your home office space.
Sometimes simple is best. Choose a simple design if you don’t want your cabinet to stand out or take too much attention away from the other pieces in the room. Simple cabinets get the job done, and if you redecorate, they will work within your new space.
An inexpensive cabinet is a good choice if you are unsure of what look you want or how much space you will need. If you choose an inexpensive filing cabinet at first, you can take time to figure out how much space you need before you invest in a larger or more stylized cabinet. Read the reviews carefully on all cabinets. Just because it costs less doesn’t mean it isn’t as good as other higher priced cabinets.
If you know you’ll need a lot of storage, you have two options: you can expand vertically or horizontally. If you lack horizontal space to expand with a second cabinet, you might as well invest in a tall cabinet right away. Think about how much space you will need over the next few years to help you decide.
Home office filing cabinets can come in a number of different designs. The cabinet will be taking up a long-standing residence in your home, so it should feel like your home. If you don’t like the boxed office look of traditional cabinets, consider something softer with a wood finish or natural aesthetic.
Use your cabinet to add a pop of color to your home office. Who said home filing systems had to be boring? Colored cabinets will stand out in your space and you can match the color with your business branding. Or maybe you just can’t get enough of the color blue—it’s our favorite too.
File folders come in different sizes, so be careful to choose the right ones. Letter and Legal file folders have different dimensions, which correspond with Letter or Legal size paper. For home office purposes, you’ll likely want letter size folders.
Standard manila folders are the most economical options, but you can use color as a personal filing system strategy. How can color help you organize various document types? You can choose a different color folder for each client, color code by type of task, or sort by color based on urgency. You can also use color to match your company branding or simply because you like a little color in your life.
Regular folders sit in a drawer. Hanging folders hang on the edges of a drawer. It all depends on what you prefer. If you think you’ll routinely pull file folders out of your cabinet, regular folders are easier to remove and replace. That being said, regular folders can sometimes fall over, especially if there aren’t enough file folders to fill a cabinet drawer. A hanging folder will keep documents upright even if you only have a few files in your cabinet.
You can also use a combination of both regular and hanging folders. This will ensure files remain in place in the cabinet while being easy to pull in and out of the drawer. For example, you could have a hanging folder labeled “Auto” and within that folder smaller regular folders denoting more specific labels such as “Insurance,” “Manuals,” “Previous Vehicles,” etc.
Do you want to use labels, tabs, or both?
Tabs are the raised piece of a folder that help you identify the contents of a file without having to pull it out of the drawer. You can write directly on the tabs, or write on a label and attach it to the tab. If you need to change a label, simply stick on a new label to cover the old title.
Tabs are used on hanging folders. They have a plastic pocket that lets you insert or remove labels as you see fit. You can insert a tab anywhere along the hanging folder, so it allows for more customization. Since the tabs are plastic, they come in a variety of colors, which you can integrate into your organization strategy.
💡 Learn more about the different folder types and how to choose the right files for your home office needs.
There are many different systems used to sort files. Some of those systems, such as the alphanumeric filing system or the duplex numeric filing system (Dewey Decimal system), are used by big businesses and archives to keep track of very large collections of data. Since you likely aren’t setting up a filing system for the Library of Congress in your home, we’ll skip these in favor of a few simpler methods for home use.
An alphabetical filing system is simple and straightforward, which is why it’s one of the most popular filing systems. Files are arranged based upon where the name of the file falls in the alphabet. If your files have to do with people, you can arrange your files based on the people’s first name or surname, but once you decide, you must stick to it. If the name of more than one person or company starts with the same letter, then take the second letter into consideration, and so on. “Adams, Amy,” would come before “Andrews, Julie.”
To alphabetize your home folders, you might order them:
In a chronological filing system, files are organized in order of their date, whether that be the date they were created or the dates of the receipts or information enclosed. The file with the most recent date would be in front or on top of previous folders, and the easiest one to reach. You can sort files by year, month, day, or even time.
The chronological filing system works best for filing specific things like receipts or bills. You might chronologically organize your tax receipts with a folder for each month.
And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for: household filing categories. Home filing cabinets can store a wide range of work, documents, and memorables.
Here are some home filing system ideas that will help you establish a cabinet that works for you and your household. You’ll see that some ideas appear in multiple categories that overlap in context. Pick which makes the most sense to you.
|Mortgage or Rental Agreement|
Personal Home Inventory (Keep a copy outside the home too)
|Credit Card Agreement|
Taxes (Sort by Business or Family Member)
[Family Member Name]
[Family Member Child Name]
[Family Pet Name]
Want a copy of this to go? Click here to download our Home File Organization Categories printable worksheet to help you plan and organize your own home filing cabinets.
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