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.
Organizing Passwords, Manuals, and Warranties
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 Organizing Passwords, Manuals & Warranties Challenge is part of the 52 Week Home Organization 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).
Step 1: Organize Passwords Into A Password Journal Or Organizer
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 for all these little details of life in a little book or notebook that you can keep close to your computer for easy access.
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:
- Name of website or business
- URL of website to login
- Email address you’ve provided (if you’ve only got one, that’s no big deal, but if you have multiple addresses this information can be quite helpful)
- Optional: date joined
- Optional: Password hints that you provided
Weighing The Benefits And Risks Of Organizing Passwords
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.
What To Choose: Organize Passwords With Paper, Software, Or Apps?
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):
- LastPass (for desktop or laptop, has a free and premium version)
- 1Password (for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch)
- Master Lock Vault (app for Android and iPhone)
Please feel free to share your additional recommendations for a password manager below, in the comments.
Step 2: Organizing Warranties & Manuals For Easy Access
There are two ways to organize warranties and manuals for appliances, electronics or other equipment you purchase for your home.
The first method is to keep it as part of your home filing system. To do this, merely create a section of your filing system to hold warranties and manuals, perhaps keeping it with information about your personal home inventory, since that lists what major purchases you’ve made anyway.
The other method, and the one I actually prefer, is to designate a small area in each room for warranties and manuals for the items located in that room. Just create a small file folder that you place in a drawer or cabinet.
That way, if you’re experiencing a problem with a product and need to look at the owner’s manual it is already located in the room you’re in. Plus, if you decide to get rid of the item, you can gather the manual and warranty right there handy, and provide it to the new owner if you choose to sell or donate the item.
The key to organizing these warranties and manuals is to make sure they get filed immediately after receiving the product, so you can access it 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 hope the Organizing Passwords, Manuals, and Warranties challenge has been useful for you! Please write in and let me know if there is anything you would add to it!