The Ultimate Organizer — A Records Locator

“We are all, it seems, saving ourselves for the Senior Prom. But many of us forget that somewhere along the way we must learn to dance.” – Alan Harrington (Life in the Crystal Palace, 1959)

If you got run over by a bus tomorrow, would your next of kin know where all your papers are?

If you were locked in a prison in Buenos Aires and needed to get in touch with the trust manager of your offshore bank account, would you know where you put his phone number?Here’s how to organize all the important stuff in your life:

Get an address book — the simpler the better — and fill it with “names” and “addresses.”

The “names” should be items like “Second-to-die insurance papers” and “Spare keys to the beach house.”

The “addresses” should be locations, such as “Fireproof file cabinet” and “Bedroom safe.”

Cross-reference as needed. For example, “Second-to-die insurance papers” could be listed under I for “insurance” and under S for “second.” “Spare keys to the beach house” could be listed under K for “keys,” B for “beach house,” and H for “house.”

It will take a full afternoon to get this done, but you’ll feel much better about things after you do it.

Put your records locator in a fireproof safe. (If you don’t have one, get one.) Update it at least once a year.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]