5 Tips for an ADHD-Friendly Filing System

by | Mar 7, 2019 | Organizing ADHD | 0 comments

You need an ADHD-friendly filing system. That is, if you want living with ADHD to be easier.

You’ll be able to zap paper clutter when your filing system supports how your brain works.

I get it. Filing systems aren’t exciting. But a good one is essential. Without one, you’re sure to do daily battle with unruly piles of paper.

Over the years I’ve learned that ADHD paper clutter builds for two main reasons:

1. We don’t know how to decide which papers to keep and which to get rid of.

2. We don’t know how to set up an ADHD-friendly filing system that makes it simple to put papers away.

We’ve been talking about how to clear paper clutter in the ADHD Success Club. Today I want to add filing system tips to your tool kit.

Five Tips for an ADHD-Friendly Filing System

1. Keep the files you use the most where you use them. Next to your desk or wherever you do your paperwork. It doesn’t have to be a fancy filing cabinet – a file basket or box will do.

You don’t want to go through calisthenics to put your papers away. Karin, a woman I’m coaching to get organized, kept the papers she uses daily in a box on the top shelf of her closet. Since Karin couldn’t reach the files, her papers were piled around her desk and on the floor. Now with her files at arms reach, it’s easier for her to put them away.

2. Make it as easy to put papers away as it is to get them out. If it’s hard to open a file drawer, you won’t do it, and the paper will end up in a pile. If the file cabinet is so full your hand won’t go in the drawer, you’ll toss the papers on the floor instead of battling the drawer. A file cabinet blocked by boxes and clutter means you’ll pile instead of file.

3. Group similar information together. This way you’ll know where to look for the papers you need, even if you don’t know if you have it or not. It’ll make it easier to put papers away, too. Insurance papers together, medical papers together, etc.

4. Ditch the labeling machine. Here’s a secret: ADHD adults love to make things complicated. Complicated is more interesting. Too bad it’s not sustainable. Typing up files on a label machine gets complicated. You’ll take lots of extra steps to make those perfect labels. Suppose you do manage to make beautiful labels?  You won’t get out the machine to make a new label when you need to change the name of the file. And that means your filing system will fall apart. And that means you’ll pile instead of file.

5. Color coded file systems ARE NOT ADHD-Friendly. Color coding your file system is one of those complicated steps that we with ADHD so love. Yes, we might set up the color coded system to start, but we won’t maintain it. Don’t get me wrong. Using colored file folders because they’re more fun is fine. I use yellow and purple files myself, but there is no rhyme or reason for what papers are in what color folder.

Creating a filing system that supports you and your distracted brain is much easier when you know where to start and what to do. I hope these tips help.

home filing system blueprintNeed more resources to organize your files?

You might like my Essential Home Filing System Blueprint. It walks you through the steps I use to help my clients create ADHD-friendly filing systems.


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