I often find that one of the trickiest parts of organization can be the stuff that you know you should keep, but don’t use often, so it’s hard to know what to do with it. Owner’s Manual organization is one of these tricky things for me.
We recently combined our two children into one bedroom and made my son’s old room our office. As part of settling into that space, I am going through the piles of things that never found a home when we moved here. One of those piles was our owner’s manuals.
In our previous house, we had them in magazine files in a storage closet. But the magazine files weren’t working because it was essentially two vertical piles. We couldn’t ever remember how the two were classified, and even if we did know which one to look through, it was a matter of thumbing through each holder until you stumbled across the manual you were looking for.
I had this file box that I had purchased to store bills before we had a desk that had file drawers in it. I kept the box because I knew that I could use again, but didn’t have a purpose for it.
This file box would fit all of our manuals, with room to spare and fit perfectly on a top shelf in the office closet. They would all be in one place and the box was easily accessible in the closet.
Operation: Owner’s Manual Organization, Commence!
Step 1: Purge Owner’s Manuals
Recycle any manuals you have for items that you no longer have. (I’ll admit that there were more than a handful of these in my pile). There’s no need to store instructions for an item you no longer need to know how to operate.
Step 2: Sort Owner’s Manuals
I decided to put the “Big” (i.e. major kitchen & home appliances) manuals in their own file folders – partially because of their size and partially so that I could quickly and easily find the manual for which I was looking when I was looking for it.
Some other smaller items were grouped together, such as small kitchen appliances, kid stuff and furniture.
Lay out all of your manuals and decide 1) What is most important to you to be able to have access to quickly and 2) What items are less important and, therefore, can be grouped together.
Step 3: Label & File Owner’s Manuals
This entire process is moot if you don’t label the files. Without labels, you might as well just lump all of the manuals together with rubber bands because they won’t be any easier to find in a box if they aren’t labeled.
I use this label maker (but have been drooling over this one). It was $9.99 on Black Friday a few years ago, and I was so excited to snag it. Never mind that it ran on batteries, and I later paid $14.99 for the A/C Adapter for it. I’m not bitter…
We got a roll of neon green label tape for free with our steal-of-a-deal label maker, and I decided that this would finally be a great time to use it. Translation: Who cares what the labels look like in my owner’s manual box, so long as I can read them?
Step 4: Store Owner’s Manuals in an Easily Accessible, yet Out-of-Sight Location
This step isn’t necessary for everyone. But it was for me.
*This closet is still a WIP (work in progress). Actually, the entire office is a WIP.
We did have a few tools and accessories that we had been storing with the manuals. The file box that we had has a magnetic snap lid with a compartment that was perfect for holding those items. The trick was making sure to label them since they were no longer connected to their manual.
I learned a great tip for what to keep with your owner’s manual at an organizing seminar that I taught a couple years ago. I’ll share it on Instagram next week. Stay tuned.