How To: Create a Table of Contents for Your Files

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At Apartment Therapy, we bring you ways to organize your space and make it more efficient.  You can also safely say that I have a healthy obsession with all things organized.  A place for everything and everything in its place are words we live by.  But we also know that the system has to be easy in order for a neat outcome...

Paper tends to be the biggest hurdle when it comes to getting organized. It’s not searchable and you won’t file your papers unless you have an easy system. To help conquer frustration when filing and recalling papers in your filing system we’ve devised what we call “The Table of Contents” (or TOC) for your files. This Table of Contents is a list, much like the table of contents in a novel, where the parts of a book are organized in the order in which the parts appear.

In just two easy steps you'll have your own Table of Contents.

Step one:  Write down (or type) all of your file tab names on a sheet of paper with the last file written down first (and your first file when you open the filing cabinet will be last).  The file tab names are written from back to front so that the list matches your filing system as you open the drawer.

Step two:  Affix your new TOC to the top or side of your filing cabinet (depending on where you can see it best). 

This system is a great first step to make filing easier.  Before you even open your filing cabinet to file or recall paperwork, look at your TOC to see where your piece of paper will be filed or what file to look out for to find your important papers. 

I like to use "Ready Tab Hanging Folders" by Pendaflex.  Form can also meet function with these good-looking files from the Macbeth Collection. Happy filing!