Or, How I Make the 43 Folder System Work For Me
I don’t know about you, but I constantly feel like I’m chasing my tail when it comes to my paper trail at work. In school’s, no matter how much we might try to go digital for relevant things, there’s always paper EVERYWHERE. Especially the copies needed for the week.
I’ve tried everything, from digital daily folders on my computer, to a hanging file, desk drawer organisers, paperclips with days of the week on them… I’m pretty sure I’ve trialed at least two different systems every year for nine years and I’m rubbish at sticking with them because nothing ever seemed to work for me.
Enter my version of the 43 Folders filing system, which is still going strong 6 months into my tenth year of teaching and I have no massive urge to change it up.
So, what is it?
There’s a lot of resources available online for this if you do a search, but I’m going to share my very lack-of-research approach to this filing system.
It’s essentially what it says it is: 43 folders – in this case, 43 file folders for a filing cabinet (or milk crate or storage box or whatever you have on hand). 12 of the folders are labelled with the months of the year, and the remaining folders are numbered 1-31 for the days of each month.
At the start of each month, you move your current month’s folder to the front and line the days of the month folders behind it. Whenever you do your copies for the week, you simply pop them into the days you intend to use them. If you’re copying in advance, you can add them as easily to future dates – or, if you’re very well organised, and copying for future months, you simply file them away into that month’s folder so they’re ready to go when you get there.
At the end of each day, you move the empty daily folder to the back of the pile – I usually place mine right behind the next month – and the days begin to cycle back around so you can start preparing for the future again.
You can see in the photo above that I’m halfway through a month (June), so my days 1-10 folders are already behind July, read to go.
I usually also take out weekends and public holidays so that I know exactly which days I’m teaching and can prepare my resources accordingly.
At the end of each month, I go through that month’s file – which usually has a lot of things left over in it – and decide what to keep, to move back to the next month or to recycle or pass on to a colleague. The whole system is self-sustaining and means I always know where to find my copies.
(And those brightly coloured items at the front are my Write and Wipe pockets so I don’t lose them, either!)
Each week, when I’m preparing my lessons, I lay out the week’s folders on a table and sort through my materials so I can clearly see what’s happening each day. When everything I need is in it’s correct spot I know I’m good to go and the folders go back into the filing cabinet ready for the week.
Then I simply pull out the folder for the day and leave it on my desk so everything’s where I need it to be!
And yes, there are week’s when this system doesn’t work – although, that’s mostly when I’m at my most disorganised and haven’t set aside some time to ensure that everything’s prepped in advance, but it has, overall, made my life a lot easier during the day.
What about you? Do you have an organisational system that works? Share it in the comments.