How to make sure you never lose important paperwork again
February 1, 2015
We've all been there. You need to dig out a piece of important paperwork – maybe it's an insurance policy document, an MOT certificate or your mortgage papers. But where on earth did you put them?
You're definitely not alone. Studies suggest that as many as one in four Americans have either lost or forgotten a financial document, and only 40 per cent could locate important documents if they needed to.
There are plenty of valuable things in our homes which we take steps to protect, but when it comes to our important documents – despite their value – we tend to be much more blasé. Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise then, that when it comes to actually digging them out, we often find ourselves stuck somewhere between turning our house upside down and sending out a search party!
Of course, we know the problems. You're busy. You work hard. Your free time is precious. And, if you already have a mountain of paperwork, the prospect of digging through it can be pretty daunting, particularly when you know you'll probably be in the exact same boat 6 months down the line.
In this article, we're going to give you the advice and tools you need to organise your personal documents, keep them safe, and implement a system that ensures you never have to scramble to find them again!
Before you start
Shred unnecessary paperwork
As we've alluded to above, the problem often begins with a sheer quantity of paper. Clearly, there are indispensable documents that you're always going to need a physical copy of – birth, death and marriage certificates, for example. But how many people can honestly say that's the extent of the paper they've amassed over the years? Take a look through your paper mountain and dispose of the stuff you don't need by giving it a one-way ticket to the shredder. This will make the whole task of setting up a sustainable system significantly easier and more efficient.
Once you're down to your essential documents, it's time to put them somewhere safe, and there are two options here.
When you think of document storage, physical storage is probably the first technique that comes to mind. People have been storing documents in this way for years, after all, and it can be a decent start. You can pick up a reasonable-sized filing cabinet for around the £100 mark and, what they lack in aesthetic appeal, they do generally make up for in storage capacity. You can cut costs further by considering using a foolscap file or even an existing storage facility like an unused cupboard or drawer. Do make sure to give some protection to your documents by storing them in plastic wallets if you choose to store them in this way.
The physical storage approach isn't without it's drawbacks, of course. Once you've got your papers filed away, you're still faced with the painstaking manual task of rifling through them every time you need to find a particular document (unless you set up some kind of alphabetic sorting system or similar, which again, is going to take a huge amount of time to implement and maintain.) Another key drawback to physical file storage is that your papers are essentially at the mercy of the elements. In the event of a fire or flood, it's probably not going to be your primary concern, but at the same time, the loss of your important documents isn't going to make you feel much better.
Digital Document Management
Digitising documents and storing them on your computer is something that businesses have been doing for a long time, but home users have generally been slow to adopt. This isn't particularly surprising, since many solutions are essentially built with business' needs very much in mind.
There is an imperative to find a solution, though. Many consumer based companies are turning to electronic documents to send invoices, statements and order forms to their customers – documents which all need to be stored, and could easily be lost in a complex digital folder structure.
Storing documents digitally has a number of significant benefits. Of course, it frees up space in your home – say goodbye to filing cabinets and unnecessary storage units. By digitising your documents, you can also make them significantly more secure – they're no longer at risk of damage from fire, flood, damp or wayward pets.
Crucially, it also makes your documents easier to find. You'll typically be able to add tags to your documents, so you can run searches by keyword. The net result is that you can find the document you're looking for almost instantly – no more paper cuts while rifling through your cupboards!
Of course, as we've mentioned, the problem is that it's not particularly easy to find a simple and affordable solution that suits your personal needs. Which brings us to DocuCan...
We know all about the problems you're facing, because they're the exact same problems that led us to the creation of DocuCan. Our founder, Gary, looked high and low for a simple and affordable document management solution he could use to securely store his personal documents, but hit a brick wall time and again. The existing solutions all seemed to be complicated, difficult-to-use, or prohibitively expensive and aimed at businesses, with features he didn't need.
Gary originally built DocuCan for himself, but, as it developed, he realised that It could be an application useful to others. In the period since then, we've developed DocuCan into a robust platform that's packed with useful features, but still has ease-of-use, simplicity and affordability at its core.
Why not get in touch with Gary and the team to find out more about how DocuCan can help you bring order to the chaos of your home document storage?