Filing Tip – How to Organize in (Literally) No Time!

Filing Tip

Filing Tip in No Time

Filing is an activity that often falls to the bottom of our priority list – especially when time is short. Do you agree?

You know it’s important, but it’s seldom something that you actually get to.  (And then by the time you do get to it, the papers have piled so high that the task is daunting – perhaps daunting enough to discourage you from starting at all!)

Clutter, in and of itself, creates stress and is a major contributor to feelings of overwhelm.

So, wouldn’t a filing system that requires NO time be a wonderful addition to your time management skill set?

Filing Tip in No Time:

The idea I want to share with you today is attributed to the Japanese Economist Yukio Noguchi and is known as the Noguchi Filing System.

In a nutshell, this system uses your everyday workflow to naturally prioritize and organize your projects.  Its genius is that it requires no thought or effort on your part, aside from a bit of preliminary preparation.

Here’s how David Caolo describes that first step on his website unclutterer:

Instead of a filing cabinet or set of drawers, you’ll need an open shelf and several 9? x 12? (or larger) envelopes. Using scissors, cut the flap off the top of the envelope …  Next, write the date and title [of the project or task] along the side of the envelope … Make one envelope per project and place the envelopes next to each other on the shelf, with the date and title side facing outward.

You can use envelopes or folders if you prefer – whatever works for you.

Once you have your folders set up, all you need to do is the following: After you’ve used a folder, return it to the far left side of the shelf.  That’s it. Whenever you take a folder down and use it, just return it to the far left.

I wasn’t joking when I said this required no time, thought, or effort on your part!

Filing Magic

What happens over time, as you practice the Noguchi Filing System, is that your frequently-used files migrate to the left-hand side of your shelf, and those that are seldom or never accessed or used by you move to the middle and to the right.

Eventually, you’ll find that the folders on the far right can be archived or purged.  With these seldom-or-never-used files, some people choose to scan the material and retain it in a digital archive, thereby cutting down on paper clutter and saving space.

Color-coding your folders adds a further element of organization, and I think you’ll find that, using the Noguchi System, your files will be more organized and your ability to quickly access needed information will be greatly enhanced.

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  1. Great idea! This could also be used for reference books. Discover which ones you really need and which can go to new homes. Thank you for sharing, Paula!

  2. Hi Kathryn – I love how you expanded on this idea and will keep it in mind for my bookshelves. (I’ll be doing some culling in August.) Great to hear from you – and I hope you are enjoying your summer!

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