Rushing to the airport without being sure of where you put your passport is a horrible experience. But so is filing your taxes, keeping track of your utility bills and finding your birth certificate right away when you need it. If you’re part of a company, you know retaining documents is essential, and misplacing or losing files can cause more than a few headaches. How can we avoid these stressful experiences? Easy. It’s called a smart filing system, and this is how you can create it.

Storing documents for individuals and families

Managing paper clutter is always a challenge. This guide will help you create a filing system that will save you time, money and effort when doing so. Depending on how much paperwork you need to sort through and store, your home filing system can be as small as a file folder or as large as a filing cabinet. Regardless of how many documents you have, the key is to gather all your paperwork in one spot and one spot only. When you’re done looking at a utility bill or need to keep a receipt, your first instinct should be to go to your special paperwork spot.

How to store your mountains of photos, certificates, contracts, warranties and manuals

If you have a lot of documents, consider separate categories for separate file types. You can keep documents you may need in the near future in one file box, and you can archive records, leases, warranties and contracts, which you will only need in the long run, in a separate binder. Likewise, you can have a special category for recycling paper – things you may want to keep around for a while but that you will most likely end up recycling or shredding.

Finally, dividing your paperwork into categories allows you to discard items you’re sure you won’t need. We all have credit card offers, junk mail and old bank statements around the house. Don’t be reluctant to throw them away if you know they are useless. Categorizing and decluttering is something you should do on a consistent basis. Take 10 minutes every month or so to review your recent documents and to decide what you should discard and what you should keep.

Top storage solutions for your home

Depending on the type and amount of paperwork you wish to hold onto, you can dedicate a shelf for documents or resort to a file box, a tray organizer or even a home safe. Other at-home storage solutions can include plastic page slips, which will protect your documents from wear and tear, as well as file holders, document cases and color-coded binders.

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How should businesses store files?

In our highly information-centric world, businesses around the globe collect huge amounts of data. Besides the fact that retaining specific information in the form of files and documents is required by regulatory measures, data is a true and veritable resource that companies of all shapes and sizes should maintain. Thus, protecting and safely storing your files is vital for your company, no matter how small it may be.

The key to keeping track of invoices, tax returns, accounting records and legal documents

If you have only a few invoices every month, keeping track of them may seem easy. But once that number goes up, and bills, tax documents and other sorts of files come into play, things can get messy quickly, resulting in sleepless nights, financial losses, audits and even lawsuits. That is precisely why a proper document storage system is crucial.

When designing this system, first get to know your industry-related regulations: What documents do you need to hang on to and for how long? Secondly, categorize your documents. Whether at home or at the office, this is always the way to go. Depending on the type and size of business, you should consider storing your files according to their category and their age. It’s also important to consider whether you will need a document for day-to-day operations or for a future purpose, such as for filing taxes.

Safety first – best ways to store business files

Finally, while storing paperwork digitally is generally less risky than physically storing it, many businesses do need a physical location for their data. Thus, consider keeping sensitive or confidential information in a locked cabinet or a safe. If you’re dealing with sensitive information, however, or don’t have enough space within the office for physical files, experts argue that storing documents off site is the ideal option, both in terms of space and security. This is where self storage comes into play. Don’t worry – StorageCafe can help you find a safe environment for your files.

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Self storage – the king of the paper jungle

Because a variety of files are important to individuals, as well as businesses, keeping your data in a secure setting is vital. Many important documents are difficult and expensive to replace if they are damaged by water, heat, pests or rodents, making climate control a central factor. While plastic bins, filing cabinets and lock boxes might sound like good ideas, nothing is safer and more reassuring than knowing all your important documents are in a secure storage unit nearby.

This is especially valid for businesses, as the risk of malicious actors looking to access and steal data is increasing. Furthermore, remember that data loss is simply a reality; it can occur due to infrastructure failures, physical damage and, more generally, incorrectly stored data. Ultimately, not worrying about your personal documents and data – because you have stored them in a safe place – can provide you with an often underestimated peace of mind.

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Getting a 5’x5’ or a 5’x10’ storage unit should be enough for your documents, according to our size guide. However, depending on your specific needs, StorageCafe can surely help you find the perfect solution.

Matei Idu
Author

Matei is a creative writer for StorageCafe and has an academic background in urban development, governance and linguistics. Making use of these disparate sources of expertise, Matei has now turned towards the real estate industry, after covering the latest trends and projects in urban planning, regeneration and green city initiatives all over Europe. Get in touch with Matei via email.

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