Don’t let product manuals eat up valuable space in your file cabinet! Use this Tried and True method for organizing product manuals and warranties that makes them easy to access whenever you need them.
Did you know that paper management is the number one reason that people hire a professional organizer? Despite our best efforts to “go paperless“, it has certainly been my experience that paper clutter is a universal challenge, and reducing paper clutter is a common goal for my clients
That’s why paper organization and management is hot topic for me!
Today, we’re going to hone in on a very specific form of paper management: organizing all of the reference paperwork that’s associated product purchases. Product manuals, warranties, and receipts for big-ticket items are a super common source of paper clutter that I come across in client’s homes.
I have a favorite method for corralling all of these when on the job. But ironically, I’ve never taken the time to organize my own collection of manuals!
Ever hear that saying about the cobbler’s children who have no shoes? Sometimes this holds true for pro organizers too!
Organizing Product Manuals and Warranties: My Tried and True Method
Product manuals were taking up an entire drawer in my filing cabinet. As part of my recent file cabinet overhaul, my goal was to free up the filing cabinet drawer for storing business-related files.
Related: Reference File Organization
As you might have guessed, the first step in the process is to gather all the paper into a central location and begin sorting into categories.
I suggest that you set aside papers for home improvement purchases (i.e., carpeting, plumbing fixtures) and large appliances. These papers should be placed in a separate binder to be given to the new homeowner in the event that you sell your home (this step also makes it easy to enter this information into your home inventory).
That leaves you with only the papers for items that would go with you in the event of a move.
Depending upon your consumer tendencies, your piles may look something like this:
During the sorting process, have the recycle bin close at hand, as you will invariably come across manuals and warranties for items you no longer own, especially if it’s been a few years since you’ve gone through these files:
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My preferred method for containing all of these papers is to use 3-ring binders that use poly binder pockets with Velcro closures for each category of products. Binder pockets work great for this purpose, and can typically accommodate up to 200 pages per pocket.
I use Post It stick-on filing tabs to label the product categories.
Take a peek at what the binder looks like when fully assembled:
One binder is rarely sufficient for the average household with kids. In fact, our papers required a total of four binders to contain all of our product manual/warranty information (the three binders for “portable” products below, as well as our binder for items that will stay with the house when we move).
The final step is to create a cover sheet and a spine insert for the binder that summarizes the product categories contained within each binder:
Of course, for those who are on the “paperless” bandwagon, you can bypass this whole process by searching for the PDF versions of the product manuals online.
That’s it in a nutshell — my tried and true method for organizing manuals and warranties. Going to give it a try? Take a pic of your binder(s) and tag me over on Instagram (@refined_rooms). I’d love to celebrate with you!
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