stack of documents

How to Organize Important Documents at Home Without Losing Your Mind in LA

Posted in: Moving 101

Written by: Michael Vaughan

Since an average person takes about 18 minutes to locate a particular piece of paper, learning how to organize important documents at home will allow you to manage your time much more effectively. Creating a well-organized filing system is especially important if you’re planning on relocating soon, as it will enable you to resume all of your everyday operations quickly. Remember that organizing is a way of life, so don’t get too frustrated if it takes you a bit longer to adopt these new habits. Since it’s crucial you get this done on time, consider hiring a local moving company in Los Angeles to plan the rest of the relocation for you.

Start by Gathering Everything in One Place

Before you file anything, it’s better to gather all the paper you can find in one place. Do a sweep of the entire house, taking out everything you find along the way. Remember to check all your closets and drawers, as these are the most likely places you’ll find some long-forgotten papers. Don’t worry if you accidentally miss something, as you can always come back for it later.

Learn How to Keep Important Documents Organized by Setting up a Mailing Center

Setting a mailing center for your incoming mail will keep you organized, preventing you from scattering it all around the house. Most organizers put their specific drop zones in a high-traffic area, like the kitchen, somewhere near the entrance, or the home office. This will remind you to check it often, and doing so once or twice a week will prevent you from creating a new pile in the future.

Filed papers
Place everything in one place before you start sorting

Sorting Is the Basis of the Entire Organizing Process

Once you have everything in front of you, begin sorting through all the papers by placing each document into a specific category. If you’re not sure how to organize documents, split all the files into one of the following categories:

  • Active – Every document you plan on using in the near future goes into this category. It includes items like invitations, the relocation expenses checklist, and all payment and appointment reminders. More importantly, most of these can be safely disposed of after their original purpose has been fulfilled.
  • Archive – Keep all your long-standing contracts, medical records, property deeds, and tax returns separate from your other files. Although you likely won’t have to reference them more than a couple of times a year, these items represent your most important paperwork, so keep them organized as much as possible.
  • Household – While professional guides and instruction manuals may not seem important at first, they will keep your house organized and running smoothly. It would be best if you also keep the receipts for the tax return. Remember to save business cards from the Los Angeles movers you like, as you never know when you might be moving again.
  • Dispose of – Unless you accidentally skipped something, everything that doesn’t fit into one of the previous categories falls right here. Old mail, magazines, newspapers, and all other items in this group should simply be discarded one way or another.
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Separate Everything You Bring in Right Away

If you visit any of the major malls in California, you’re bound to be bombarded with incredible amounts of promotional material. While they can always be discarded later, most people forget about them, leaving you with a bunch of pamphlets lying around the house. Fortunately, you can quickly deal with the problem by sorting all the incoming paperwork on the spot, preferably right as you bring it in.

A person browsing some papers
Avoid creating a pile by sorting everything right away

Select the Right Storage Option for You

Now that you sorted everything, you’ll have to figure out how you’re going to store each category. The good news is that there are over a dozen effective ways to do it, so if you’re unsure how to store important documents at home, consider one of the following options:

  • Desk drawers,
  • Desktop document organizers,
  • Boxes of all shapes, materials, and sizes,
  • Cascading organizers,
  • Color-coded file folders,
  • Labeled and color-coded binders,
  • Filing cabinets,
  • Labeled trash cans (for disposable items).

Where to Store Important Documents That Can’t Fit Into Your New Home?

You should decide how you’re going to store your files before you start apartment hunting in Los Angeles. If you’re planning on living in Downtown LA, you likely won’t have enough space to fit your entire filing cabinet. Fortunately, you can always put some of the records into storage. However, large stacks of paper are very challenging to move, and since moving them individually will undoubtedly take too long, you might want to consider getting help from professional movers in Los Angeles.

Account for Everything by Going Digital

While you should always keep a hard copy of a vital record, going digital will bring you many benefits. You won’t have to worry about the clutter ever again, as you’ll be able to access any document with only a few clicks. The process is relatively simple and doesn’t even require a proper scanner. You only have to install a mobile scanning app and take a good photo with your phone’s camera.

A person holding a binder
A binder is one of the most commonly used filing systems

Place Active Records Within Arm’s Reach

An active document needs to be addressed shortly. It’s usually an item that you’ll refer to several times in the near future, so you want to leave it out in the open and within arm’s reach in case you need it. While some prefer to keep all their active files in one place, others categorize them in various ways. Whatever storage option you choose, remember to regularly check the files and remove any items you’re done with.

Setting Reminders Keeps You From Forgetting Upcoming Engagements

The most critical tasks will require your immediate attention, so setting a reminder will keep you from forgetting about them in the weeks ahead. If you have an upcoming appointment or you have to get some supplies for the going away party, place a note somewhere you can’t miss it, like a post-it board, near your front door, or at your computer. You can also set a reminder on your calendar or leave digital notes on the computer desktop and your phone’s home screen.

Keep Your Relocation Paperwork Organized

Since you’re already planning to move, keeping the moving to-do list close by will allow you to track the entire relocation process. The document doesn’t have to be overly detailed, but it should always have all the essential information, like the quotes you got from local Los Angeles moving companies. Additionally, having a list of the most commonly forgotten items to pack will keep you from leaving anything behind, which is especially useful when you’re packing to move in a hurry. If you have many things that movers won’t move, leave a post-it note in a visible spot to remind yourself to deal with them.

A person looking at a post-in board
A post-it board makes keeping track of new and active obligations much easier

Learn How to Organize Important Documents at Home

Keeping your essential records tightly organized allows you to find anything quickly, which is especially important when you have to move efficiently, or in case of an emergency. While you won’t be referring to these very often, these are your most important records, so try to arrange them into the following categories:

  • Personal files – Keep all your personal information like the social security number, birth certificate, and passport all in one place.
  • Health records – Have a separate folder that contains everything regarding your medical history and health insurance policy.
  • Financial and business records – From bank loans to safety deposits, it’s crucial to keep all the statements about your previous payments. If you’re running one of the best companies to work for in LA, you’ll have to keep every single document related to your business.
  • Real estate deeds – Whether you own a place Downtown or in one of the more affordable places to live in Los Angeles, this document is the main proof of your ownership.
  • Vehicle title – Unless you’re living in LA without a car, this form is the only proof that you’re a legal owner of any vehicle you use.
  • Pet records – Keep proof of ownership and document their vaccinations, as you’ll require both of these when relocating with pets.

How to Organize Important Papers When There’s a Lot of Them?

Starting with only a few categories is still better than not organizing at all, so don’t worry if you can’t find every single one of them right away. On the flip side, if any of your folders are getting too hard to navigate, expand the number, add something that’s not on the list, or even split the current categories into several smaller ones. Check out the video below if you need an idea how to do it.

An Irreplaceable File Needs to Be Kept in a Safe Place

Essential records are often irreplaceable or very hard to obtain, so you’ll want to keep them in a separate secure container at all times. Although a box is a perfectly acceptable option for all kinds of folders, it’s best to keep an essential file in a safe. If you’re living in Beverly Hills or one of the Hollywood neighborhoods, it’s very likely that you already have one in the house. In case you’re moving, ask your Los Angeles real estate agent if the property you’re interested in has a safe. If it doesn’t have one, you can always place the folders in a fireproof box, which you’ll keep in a secure, yet easily accessible spot in the house.

A safe
Consider investing some money into getting a proper safe

Keep Your Household References in One Place

Any document that your whole family needs to use should be neatly organized into a household binder. It can contain everything from active coupons to practical user manuals. If the binder seems like too much work for you, opt to keep your household essentials in a designated drawer or a cabinet where everyone can reach them. Your sentimental items should also be organized, especially if you have a lot of tickets from your visits to the LA museums.

Holiday cards
Do you have an extensive collection of holiday cards?

Dispose of Anything You Don’t Need Appropriately

There are several ways you can deal with any piece of paper you don’t need. Depending on the contents of the document, you can discard it in one of the following ways:

  • Recycle – Despite being made from all kinds of paper, most magazines and promotional materials are very recyclable.
  • Throw out – Everything you can’t recycle will likely have to be thrown away. This also includes most receipts, as they are often made of non-recyclable paper.
  • Shred – Last but not least, you’ll need to destroy any document that has sensitive data. Even if you’re living in one of the safest neighborhoods in LA, avoid throwing out anything that displays your personal information without previously shredding it.
Shredded papers
Shred or destroy anything that displays your personal information

Filing Takes Time, So Leave the Relocation Planning to the Best Movers in Los Angeles

That’s about everything you’ll need to create a well-organized filing system that any professional organizer would be proud of. As you’ve seen yourself, organizing important documents is not an easy task, you might want to get one of the moving companies in Los Angeles to help you with the move. While even cheap movers in Los Angeles will make a difference, a great LA moving company will significantly reduce your relocation stress levels.

Well, today is your lucky day, as All In Moving has excellent local movers in Los Angeles. We offer all kinds of moving services in Los Angeles, from professional packing to labor and office relocations. Our team is very efficient in relocating large items and packing fragile objects, so if you like high-quality, affordable services, contact our Los Angeles moving company and get your free estimate today.

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