This is a continuation of my last post on organizing my files and yours if you like.
The first step to starting an organizational system is to decide on the basic form for your filing (the piles I have do not count!) — file folders, notebooks, binders, or computer disks.
Genealogical Filing Systems - the Advantages & Disadvantages
Filing Cabinet & File Folders - File folders, probably are the most popular organizational tool for genealogists, they are inexpensive, very portable, and easily hold papers of different shapes and sizes. But when they are dropped, file folders can become quite a mess - with papers thrown out of order, and even misplaced. File folders can make it easy to consult documents, but you have to be careful about making sure the paper is put back where it came from. Once you've generated a lot of paper, however, the file folder system is the most flexible and expandable.
Binders - If you're someone who really likes to keep things together in one place, then organizing your printed genealogy data into binders may be a good option for you. This method standardizes your genealogical records into a regular size paper format. Documents that you don't wish to three-hole punch, can be added in polypropylene sleeves. Binders are portable and don't require a filing cabinet, however, if you do a lot of genealogical research you may find that binders eventually become too cumbersome on their own.
This is my personal choice. Yes they can be cumbersome but also are a great family book in itself. Mine is a place I gather census, family group sheets, pictures, obits and even awards received.
Computer Disks, CDs, & DVDs - Transcribing or scanning genealogical documents into the computer can save quite a bit of space, and the computerized organizational systems can greatly speed up tedious tasks such as sorting and cross-referencing. The question is, will your descendants 100 or more years from now have a computer that can read them? If you choose to use your computer as your primary organizational system, you should also decide on making and preserving copies or printouts of important documents and backing up your CD files. I have had computers crash and their goes all my hard work. Also my first family tree research was saved on a floppy disc. My computer today does not read this disk. So it is just a small Frisbee.
Once you get started organizing your genealogical clutter, you'll probably find that a combination of storage methods works best. Some people, for example, use binders to organize "proven" family and file folders for miscellaneous research on unproven connections, neighborhood or local research, and correspondence. It is important to keep in mind that organization is and always will be a work in progress.