Well, this was quite unexpected ...
Q & A: Daily Stuff

File Folder 101


Good Monday morning, my friends!

I hope you all had a nice weekend, and that your new week is off to a good start. It's going to be a HOT one here in New England - in and around the 90s all week! I'm sure we'll have the AC on later today, but right now I have all the windows open and the air just feels so soft, cool and fresh. Certainly not crisp - there's a stillness about it - but just right for a mid-July morning.

So, I've had several readers leave questions abut the file crate system (and related subjects) recently and I'm hoping to get to each one of them throughout the week. I'll start with Kristie's question below ...

The to do list you have, that is on the paper you put on the front of the file? Or do you have another to do list? Did you ever think of writing right on the file itself? How does the actual file fit into your day? That sounds like a weird question, but I guess what I mean is, like...does the file sit out on the counter or your desk and is it the first thing you look at in the morning? Do you check in with it during the day? Are you always dealing with the file itself? I tried to use this system, but did not actually pull the whole file out and I am wondering if that makes a difference for you.


Kristie, first of all, thank you for your thoughtful questions! I always look forward to reading your comments. :)

The to-do list is written out on a post-it note which is stuck to the front of the file folder; it pertains to that specific week's to-do's.

I certainly could (and probably should) just write directly on the weekly planning sheet, or even as you suggest, the folder itself. For some reason I like the post-it notes. That said, I am working on a template for a weekly planning sheet that will have a designated space for writing down a given week's to-do's. (I *may* try to put together a little file crate kit - plus user guide - if anyone's interested *and* if I can get this whole thing running smoothly. Just a few more wrinkles to iron out!)

Kristie, I also have a master to-do list, which is just a running list of things to do (and remember) that pop up - like something that needs to be looked into or something that needs to be done sooner rather than later. It's a place to write down a need before it escapes my consciousness - to be addressed/scheduled later. I look over that list when I write out each week's planning sheet.

(As for daily to-do's and reminders, I'm working on a separate post about all that. It's another area of planning and household upkeep I'm constantly fine-tuning.)

As for how the folder fits into my day ...


... well, here's how it works for me:

1. The collection of weekly file folders (a whole year's worth) is stored in my file crate which (currently) sits out in a corner of our dining room, directly beside where I work. (Note: We're in the midst of a major dining/living room re-do, so the file crate is getting a new home ... more on that very soon!)

2. When a folder is "active" it gets pulled from the crate and moved to my workspace. This happens on the Thursday before the coming week. So this Thursday I will pull the folder for next week (7/25 - 7/31). 

3. Presently, I have this week's folder (7/18-7/24) sitting out on my planner beside where I am working at this very moment. I keep it out (visible) during the day - for handy reference. I jot things down, check things off, grab things from inside the folder itself. 

4. Last week's folder is still sitting up in the file bin (it will move back into file crate storage on Thursday). This handy file bin hangs on the side of a bookcase to the right of my "command central." It holds the active folders (this week's, last week's and on Thurs I'll add next week's).

5. It is the first thing I look at - along with the month @ a glance calendar. I usually leave things out on my counter so I can dig right in in the morning. (Though I do pack up when I have to - the active folders go up to the bin, and the master binder gets stored in the front of the file crate. That's usually only when we're having company and/or I'm cleaning the kitchen island countertop.)

So I cross off yesterday's block, and glance over the weekly planning sheet. I also post the day's routine reminder card and open my daily planner to the current day's page. I write in specific reminders/tasks for today (i.e. marinate/grill chicken for sandwiches, pick up fabric swatch, call so-and-so before noon - those kinds of things).

6. On Thursday, I will go through this week's folder and see if anything can be moved. I'll set up a new folder for next week - attach its planning sheet - make initial notes by referencing my calendar. If I need things for a recipe or craft, I'll note those items on my Saturday errands list. If a book needs to be requested from the library, I'll do that now, too. 

7. On Sunday, I will retire this week's folder to the bin, put last week's folder back in the file crate, and set next week's folder out on top of the planner.

8. And so it will go till the end of the year, when I'll pull the whole lot of folders out and replace them with new ones. This, for me, takes place in May/June. I go through the old folders when I write up the year-end reports over the summer (which I just did this past weekend). The new folders get labeled by week date and filed into the crate in order by season.

9. When I go through the file folders - I recycle anything I don't need to keep (as well as the folders themselves). Things I keep include items I re-file as reminders for next year (ex. an annual pumpkin fair flyer, recipes and crafts for feast days, nature notes, etc.).

10. And then it all starts over again! :D

I've been using this file folder system for many years now - and though I'm always tweaking it a little - it has really worked so well for me. But I appreciate every comment and question about the FCS because it helps me see how it succeeds and where it fails. This has become a real pet project of mine - and I'm so glad other people (especially those who read here) find it interesting, because I do LOVE to chat about it! :)

So to conclude, Kristie, I do think keeping the file folder out during the day makes a big difference to me. The folder can work as part of your overall planning, as well as a paper tamer. And if it does become part of your planning system it makes sense to keep it out at your fingertips. (Or at least it does for me!)

Well, I hope that was helpful and not as confusing as it looks to me now that I've gone back and read it! Lol. I've used up my online time for now, so I'd best go and hope for the best! 

And of course, I thank you all for stopping by. Drop me a note if you have a question or comment about the FCS - or anything, really! I will get back to you just as soon as I can. 

Have a good day!