6 Simple Steps to Create an ADHD Friendly Filing System

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Creating a filing system that stores your paperwork will make you feel confident that you can find all your important documents quickly and easily. This might seem obvious to someone who doesn’t have ADHD; however, when you are living with ADHD, paper piles, fear and anxious searching often go hand in hand when you are looking for a particular piece of paper.

Setting up and maintaining a filing system that gives you piece of mind is time well spent.

One thing that stops people with ADHD from setting up a filing system is that it can feel overwhelming. 

So here are  6 simple steps for creating an ADHD friendly filing system.

1) Pick a filing cabinet that you like

You will be much more likely to use a filing system if you like how the cabinet looks. Pick one that fits in with your home decoration and personality. If you aren’t sure how many drawers you will need, create a practice system using banker's boxes. Put your hanging files in the boxes and test it for 1 or 2 months before investing in a piece of furniture. 

2) Hanging folders

Every filing system needs hanging folders. Have one hanging folder per topic,for example, ‘Bank statements 2016.’  The relevant documents can go straight into the hanging folder; they don’t need to go into a separate folder first.

3) Labels 

Label each hanging folder clearly. You could write your labels, print them or use a label maker.

If you can’t read the label or forget to label a folder, it is easy to put the documents in the wrong place and then the filing system stops being helpful. What you write on the label  is your choice. Do it in a way that makes sense to you so you can find what you are looking for quickly. For example, you might write ‘bank statements,’ the name of the bank or something else that is meaningful to you.

4) Organizing the folders

Having  ADHD means your thinking is creative rather than linear, and how you organize your filing cabinet can reflect that. Your filing system doesn’t have to be alphabetically organized! You might decide to group all your finance folders together, all your health folders together or in another way that feels logical to you.

5) Use  Color 

Using color in your filing system is a great idea. People with ADHD are very visual, so using brightly colored hanging folders will make your filing system more appealing. If you group similar items together in the same colored folders, it will also help you find things quickly too. For example, you could have all red folders related to financial topics.

6) Keep the folders streamlined

Don’t over stuff your folders! Oversized folders will make it harder to use the filing system because it will be difficult to add new documents. As a result, you might be tempted to stop using the filing system.  

If your folders are getting big, here is what to do:

-Shred documents you no longer need. Check out this article for details on how long to keep each document.

- Divide the subject into smaller  topics. For example, instead of putting all your tax files into a single folder labeled ‘Taxes,’ create separate folders for each tax year (e.g., Taxes 2016, Taxes 2015, Taxes 2013) 

- Only put important paper into the folder. For example, when you receive a bill, put the bill  into the folder after paying it, but do not put the envelop it came in as well.

Good luck creating your filing system!

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