It seems like everything comes with a manual these days. And these helpful guides can really accumulate and become the opposite of helpful – if they become clutter! Use these guides to figure out a system to store all of your manuals so that your reference guides are useful and can be found when you need them.
Do what work best for you. This is the most important tip: If it works for you, then it works. Think about what you’d actually use and make this your system.
Printed Material Storage Options: Sometimes it’s better to have the printed materials like if an old item is out of production, if you’re more likely to read the printed version or if you need it immediately. Here are three of the effective solutions I’ve used in the past.
- 3 ring binder with sheet protectors – Keep all of the items together and make a manual for each room or area, as appropriate
- Plastic tub with items filed inside – Easy! But I’d recommend use ziploc bags to keep related items together.
- Tape to the back of your appliance – I do this for my care directions for my plants – and it works great for manuals too. When the item is on back of your appliance, it’s usually pretty easy to get the information at a moment’s notice.
Electronic Material Storage Options: Do you even need the printed copy? Is it available as a PDF or online? I’ve been trying to move myself more and more to electronic versions of everything.
- Online storage – Online is so convenient! Make a spreadsheet of all of your items and posting the link to the manual with the item description and item numbers. This will make it quicker for you to find your relevant information if there is a problem. I’ve got most of my files like this saved in DropBox, so I can update it nearly anywhere.
- PDF storage – If you want to make sure you have the file, but don’t need the printed version, a PDF is the way to go. I’d recommend making a file on your computer or in Cloud Storage and changing the names of the PDFs when you save them so they’re easier to find.
Manuals can be a useful tool – spend some time getting them organized in the way that works for you.