Organize personal information

Learning how to organize personal information, is very important and should be one of your categories when you set up your paperwork system. On the page which discusses your home filling system, I talk you through picking a consistent system, which will work for your needs and the way you think. However, when you organize your personal information there tends to be a mix of paper based and electronic files, not to mention all those codes and numbers which belong to each individual person nowadays. This page looks at all of those tricky bits of information and aims, to give you a host of ideas which will help you to organize personal information in your household.

Organize personal information,
which is paper based 

Personal information, follows us through live. It starts with a birth certificate, moves onto a passport, a potential marriage / divorce certificate and hopefully an extensive array of educational recognition in the form of certificates and official documents. 

Organizing this doesn’t need to be complex. If you are on your own, you can simply, get some sturdy plastic sleeves and create one file for say your birth certificate and another one for your passport.

If you have more than one family member, I would use a three in one plastic sleeve. For example, call the overall file Birth certificates and place your family members name on the outside of each tab. This creates one file with all birth certificates together and it will take you 10 seconds to put your hand on this. 

This idea goes back to the concept of “Mother” and “Child” categories as explained on both the organizing paperwork page and the home filling system page.

Organize personal information - Passports

With passports it gets a bit trickier as they are bulky. What I do, is I get a sturdy plastic envelop and drop all the passports in it (in my family these are six passports -  thanks to the gift of dual nationality).

The passports are a child category of the overall category Important paperwork (or personal information) but needs a little extra breathing room. You could also opt for sturdier plastic file folders and stack them with all your other bulky paperwork items. Although passports are slightly bulky, I like to keep them in my file folder with all the other official documents.

Organize personal information - Education

Education is one of these files, which hopefully expands as we grow and develop. I therefor suggest you keep a separate file for this, potentially one for each member of the family. Within this file, you can place your educational certificates in chronological order, call the overall file section Education and have specific files with your family names on there and manila folders to divide this even further. 

An example of having an education file with some child categories to streamline the school’s paperwork.

Having education divided on person, in chronological order and allowing for some background information from say the school. Means that I can compare all of my daughters reports in an instant, but also have any correspondence about her school close at hand. 

For myself as an adult, this set up means, I can take my full educational file to an interview if need be. 

Organize personal information - Digital

On the page how to organize computer files, I talk through a folder structure and some basic naming conventions. Once you have your personal information in order in your file folders, it is a good idea to scan some of your very important documents like your birth certificate and passport, this means you have a backup when needed. A digital copy is really useful nowadays, with all of our online activities and registrations.

As you can see, I place digitized personal information in Folder 2; IMPORTANT DOCUMENTATION, with a clear heading for the document (which can also be referred to as the naming convention) like: BIRTH_CERTIFICATE_Sabine. 

In this case, I don’t use a date - which I use for most other files, because as long as I am a live, I will know my date of birth. The date, therefor, is less relevant than with other digital files. When I require, an electronic copy of my Birth Certificate, I simply need to find this document. There are only a handful of important documents scanned so this is relatively easy to find. Seeing we have multiple people in my house. When naming the document, I placed my name behind it, to make sure I don’t send my son’s birth certificate by accident ;-)

Organize personal information –
our codes and numbers

Other things which need to get organized when we look to organize personal information is the codes and numbers which are assigned to us as a person. I used to have a spreadsheet with my bank account details, tax file number and things like my student number (just recently we all go a USI – code when studying in Australia). 

What I found however, was that I often needed the information when I was away from my computer. I now place these details, on Evernote, this means I don’t really have to organize them, as long as the information is searchable. 

I simply write the actual tax file number in the note and call it Tax file number in the header. When I need it, I use the search function in Evernote, most often this is done via the app on my phone, which in turn gives me the required information in seconds.

If you feel a bit funny about the level of security surrounding some of your codes and numbers, write it in a coded message that only you can understand in say your Evernote account. Here you need to find your own comfort levels, between security and finding the information when you need it. 

Some examples:

Say, you need to fill in details when you sign up for a new job. You need easy, quick access to some of your important codes and numbers, rather than rummage through your papers or electronic files when you get home. Having the codes in your phone means you can wrap up most of this paperwork there and then (which could make a very good impression at your new job, as well as save you a lot time looking for details later).

Another example; recently, I was having a discussion with my accountant, who needed me to double check some codes (bank account details and a business Tax file number etc.). All I wanted was access to my numbers and data ASAP, which I got instantly via the Evernote app. 

I find Evernote does the trick for me every time (and it is free!! In most cases)

Digitize to prevent procrastination

In using the above technique, I find it also prevents procrastination, as I have the required information whilst the external situation asks for it, I simply fill in the forms. If the information would have been harder to find, there is a stronger chance I will be inclined to fill the forms in……later.


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