In this week's challenge we're going to organize passwords for websites and businesses we've joined, along with organizing warranties and manuals for items in your home, so you can access all this vital information when needed.
You might wonder why I've devoted an entire challenge to dealing with passwords and other practical documents, like your warranties and appliance manuals.
After all, these aren't exciting topics, and the work for the week won't actually take you very long (hopefully).
The reason is that I used to waste a lot of time trying to find all these kinds of documents, and passwords -- time I can't get back now. Once I figured out how simple organization really was in these areas I wanted to share the joy of working smart, not hard, with you too.
Are you new here? The Organize Passwords, Warranties & Manuals Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader).
Website and Internet passwords, along with bank PINS and other passcodes for your phone, alarm system, etc. are quite common these days.
Unfortunately, there are so many that I often get confused with what password and/or username I've chosen, or even what email address I used for that website.
I know that many Internet safety specialist say, use a unique password for each website, and don't write your password down where people can access it, but practically, how the heck can I remember all this stuff? I can't even remember what I need to cook for dinner without writing it down, much less remember this information for a website I haven't accessed for over a month!
That's why I suggest you organize passwords in some way, either on paper or digitally.
Many people use a little book or notebook that you can keep close to your computer for easy access, like a password journal. In a companion article I've shown how many readers have used similar password organizers, journals and notebooks in their homes for this exact purpose.
In fact, if you want to keep your passwords in a journal or notebook you can use this password organizer form I created, if you wish.
I suggest you print off this form, following the instructions provided on the page, and begin filling it out slowly as you access various websites. That means your only big time investment is setting up the system, and then just slowly filling it out as you go along.
Doing it slowly, over time, will also get you in the habit of filling out the password organizer form every time you create a new password and username, since your notebook will be ever-evolving.
No matter what system you choose, try to write down at least these pieces of information:
You've got to weigh the risk of a security breach when you organize passwords, because just as you can access this information, in theory a criminal or thief could also.
Obviously, don't put a big "PASSWORDS: STEAL ME" sign on the notebook or binder, to really call attention to it, but my personal opinion is that having these things written down is worth the risk for the time savings and sanity involved with having a cheat sheet to reference as needed.
Plus, something to consider is what if something happens to you? You need your loved ones to be able to access certain websites, like bank accounts, etc. to deal with financial or other issues, and how will they know without a helpful reference guide such as this?
I'll be honest, I've been berated by several people who've read this mission and think writing down your passwords is just plain dumb. I thought about this carefully before I made this suggestion, and I stand by it, but you don't have to do it by writing them down if you don't want. The point of this mission is really to make sure you somehow don't forget your passwords, and that a trusted loved one could get into your accounts and not be locked out if something were to happen to you.
If you want to do that in another way beside writing them down on paper, go for it! I've got no problem with it! Just make sure you do something, and have some type of thought out system in place. That's why I'm mentioning a couple more options below as well.
Above I've already given you a free form you can use when you organize passwords. However, there are also other options you can consider, including more formal notebooks which are already created for you (such as the one on the right), software applications, and apps for your smart phones or tablets.
Further, there are various password manager software and apps available which will manage and organize passwords for you on your computer, smart phones or tablets themselves. Many of these also have autofill capabilities, so you don't have to retype the same information over and over into various forms.
I don't personally use one of these software or app systems, but I've heard positive reviews of the following (if you've got a review of an app, please share your app review here):
Please feel free to share your additional recommendations for a password manager below, in the comments.
The next part in this challenge is to organize your warranties and owner's manuals for appliances, electronics or other equipment you purchase for your home.
The first step in any organization project is to declutter the things you don't need first. Therefore, before you begin organizing take the time to get rid of outdated or no longer needed manuals and warranties. I've written a Declutter 365 mission about this topic at the link, which you can read for more instructions on decluttering these items.
Then, once you only have warranties and manuals left that you actually need to keep, it will be time to organize them. There are three main ways to organize these types of documents, including the following:
I've written an article on how to organize warranties and manuals in your home giving instructions for how to do it in all three ways I've mentioned above. Check out the article for more details, plus photos from readers who've done the mission to see their results.
The key to organizing these warranties and manuals is to make sure they get filed (or placed into your organizational system) immediately after receiving the product, so you can access the manuals again when needed. In addition, the other key is to get rid of the paperwork for the item when you get rid of the item itself so you don't have manuals laying around for things you've already decluttered from your home.
I would love to know how this week's Organize Passwords, Warranties & Manuals Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized these items in your home in the comments.
I also love before and after pictures of organizational systems, and would love to see some of yours. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. You've worked hard to get organized, so now here's your chance to show off!
Here's the Password Organization Hall of Fame showing how other readers who've already taken on this challenge how done it, to get you inspired!
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the Organize Passwords, Warranties & Manuals Challenge this week.
However, I want you to know that next week will be the culmination of the paper organization section of the Challenges, when we put all the pieces of the puzzle together and organize our home offices.
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I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!