Clutter Control: How To Properly Use a Filing Cabinet

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Clutter Control—As part of this clutter control series, we’ll be discussing ways to free yourself from a cluttered home and uncover simple organization tips that you can follow to live in a more organized and functional home. Today’s rule is all about using a filing cabinet to stay organized.

Clutter Control Rule #7: Use a filing cabinet.

We feel as strongly about this as Hoover felt about a chicken in every pot. Every contemporary home needs a file cabinet—not just those with a home office or those belonging to your super organized friends. Even if you don't have a desk—or instead of one if you don't have room—invest in a filing cabinet. You can always use the dining room table as a temporary desk, but nothing else is a substitute for a filing cabinet.

Filing cabinets start at about $40 for an inexpensive one with two drawers. An office-quality filing cabinet of the same size can be two or three times as much. There are definite advantages to the more expensive ones: the drawers open fully so you can easily file all the way to the back. The drawers in the cheap ones don't open more than two-thirds of the way, so filing in the back of the drawer is always a pain. But even if you get the cheapest one available, it's still a great deal.

Some new cabinets have built-in metal frames for hanging file folders. If not, purchase an add-on frame for each drawer. And get a supply of the hanging files themselves. One of the reasons some people don't like file cabinets is because they have never used them with hanging files. These hanging files are what changed the cabinet into the wonderful clutter-buster it is.

Besides being a perfect storage place for such obvious choices as bills, important papers, and correspondence, the file cabinet is just right for warranty cards, product information, instruction booklets, stationary, photos, stamps, your kids' important schoolwork, report cards, spare batteries, diskettes, pens, pencils, tax returns, receipts, invoices, telephone books, and certain other books you want nearby, such as dictionaries, catalogs, address books, photo albums, and more. All sorts of non-traditional items can be stored in files, to your advantage.

Do you use a filing cabinet to keep your paperwork organized? What are some of the not to obvious items you'll store in your file cabinet?

To follow along in this series, please be sure to check out the previous clutter control tips and tricks:

Debbie Sardone

Debbie Sardone is the founder of Cleaning For a Reason which provides free cleaning services to women who are touched by cancer.  She also owns a Dallas cleaning service.

Her long-time passion for teaching cleaning and organizational has lead her to continue the legacy of Speed Cleaning and the use of green cleaning products.

She can be followed as @DebbieSardone on Twitter.

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