What’s Missing From Your Organizing Systems

shopping & pending filesActually, I have no idea what’s missing from your organizing systems, but  I want to talk about a couple of likely candidates: a shopping file and a pending file.

It seems like every time we clear off a client’s desk, we may have found a home for all the usual suspects– financial files, medical files, ongoing projects, etc., but we are left with some items that leave our client thinking she’s finally got us stumped.  These items tend to be related to shopping or to a pending state. Here are my recommendations for them.

Shopping File

Not all coupons and gift cards are created equal. It makes no more sense to put them all in one place, than to put all books in one place. I recommend keeping coupons, that you use at a store, in your car. However, I keep coupons and gift certificates that I use online in a shopping file. I keep them in a clear envelope outside my file cabinet, so they are as memorable as possible (see photo). I use a business card holder in the front of the envelope, to show several gift cards at once. Also, I include any potential purchases in the back of the envelope.

Pending File

Often, there is a state of limbo, where action is not required on our part, but we don’t want put a file away, because a process is not yet completed.  Simply put, the ball is in someone else’s court. These pending items can go in a pending file. They are usually pending shopping orders, but it’s good to broaden this file to a general “pending” file because it is common to come across non-shopping pending items that need a temporary home.

The most basic way to simplify paper management is to distinguish between whether you must take action on a file or whether you simply need to be able to find a file reliably. The latter variety belongs in a well organized filing cabinet. You could argue, therefore,  that shopping and pending files should go in a file cabinet. However, I keep the shopping and pending files out with my action files, because I see ordering as an activity I do so frequently, that it constitutes an ongoing project.

Do you have a good home for your shopping and pending items?