Over the years, I gradually develop a system to organize household items. For brevity, I won't talk about utility items such as furniture, kitchenware and utensils, and other replaceable items that I use on a day to day basis. I will focus on the following categories:
- Supplies: the goods that I consume.
- Archive: artifacts I want to keep in the long term for future reference.
Supplies are stored near where they are needed. For example:
- Toilet papers, laundry detergent, etc. are stored in the bathroom.
- Foods are stored in the pantry or the refrigerator.
Their presence needs to be obvious so I know what supplies I have, and if they are about to run out. I typically only need to worry about them when I consume supplies.
Here are some additional detail about other supplies:
- Stationaries such as mail envelopes, paper clips, tapes, post-it notes go into one bin. Some oft used stationaries like post-it notes and pens also stay on my desk.
- Electronics supplies such as cables (USB, ethernet, phone), unused switches or hubs, extra hard drives or memory cards, are stored close, with the cheaper replaceable items (cables) in one pile, and the more expensive ones (hard drives) in another.
- Extra guitar strings and picks are stored in the guitar case.
Less obvious of which is how to organize archives, which consist of loose papers, notes, and other miscellaneous odd items.
I tend to accumulate odd things like ideas notes, business cards, coupons, holiday/birthday cards, brochures, train schedules, movie tickets, other collectibles, etc. There is not much, so it's a hassle trying to sort them as they come each day after I dump my pocket or bag. They first go into two piles on my desk organizer, which has some rudimentary sorting by item type. The papers go into one shelf, and the odd items another. These are the "current" items I might need soon.
Mail goes into another pile. I only take a cursory look at the envelope to determine whether I should open the mail now, or whether they could be handled later. All of my bills are paid online, so there shouldn't be any coming in the mail, but I do open envelopes that are unusual. Most of the times they are clever junk mail in disguise. My heuristic is also partially based on whether I am expecting something in the mail, such as holiday cards or tax filing information.
Mail is triaged as follows:
- Junk mail stays unopened and put into a pile.
- Important mail is opened, and either acted upon or goes into the same pile.
Both the mail pile and the odd items pile are sorted every few months. This is when I determine whether they should be thrown out or archived. The archive categories can vary, but they are roughly:
- Identification documents. I keep all my expired passports and immigration documents in case I need them.
- Financial documents. Most of the statements are now kept electronically, so I only need the "initial" sign up documents to remind me which accounts I have.
- Health documents. I don't have my complete medical history on paper, but the scant ones I have, they are kept in the same folder.
- Rental leases. These are all the leases I have signed in the past.
- Personal items and other memorabilia. This stores all the holiday or birthday cards I get from friends and family, as well as movie/concert tickets, etc.
I have recently acquired a fireproof case, but I have not figured out how I would use it yet. Currently, the idea is only to store the current identification documents and my hard drive backup.