The most frequently asked question we get is “How do I organize all my paperwork?”. The answer is create a system and then stick to it. Sounds easier than it is – we know! Here are our four simple steps to help you tame the paper monster.
1. Create a system
Try to write down all the things you do with paperwork on a regular basis. For example, you probably create a pile of paperwork to be actioned. Then you flip through the pile when it gets big and spend a few hours actioning the items, probably discovering along the way that some items are overdue. Then you put the actioned items in a pile to be filed away. When the “To be Filed” pile gets too big you spend a few hours filing everything, probably stuffing everything into overstuffed folders because you haven’t gotten around to purging! Don’t worry we are all guilty of doing some of these things. Now…. let’s fix it!
Group the paperwork into categories – i.e. Utilities, Investments, House, Car, etc. Set-up a separate file folder for each category. Designate an inbox for all the bills that need to be paid. Designate a folder for items to be actioned – this could be school permission forms, registration forms, invitations, home maintenance flyers, etc.
As soon as you receive a piece of paper, review it and determine what needs to be done with it. Hopefully, most of it is junk mail and can immediately go into the recycle bin! If not, put it into the correct folder NOW – don’t put it in a pile for later. You want to handle the paper as few times as possible. How often do you get your mail, flip through it and then put it all down in a pile. Next time you pick up the pile you have to flip through it again and decide what to do with it. If the first time you flipped through it you organized it into the right folder you would be finished this step already.
Establish one day each month to pay all the bills and one day a week to handle action items- make sure you check your due dates to be sure the day works. Check out this organizer! It claims to help you keep a sense of humor while keeping bill paying in order. Just file bills in the monthly pocket and record when they are due. Quotes and quips are provided each month just for grins.
As soon as you pay a bill or action an item file it away in the appropriate folder.
4. Purge Frequently
It is up to you how long you keep paperwork for but remember less is more! Once you have the history you want you should purge each time you file so it doesn’t build up. For example, let’s assume you decide you want to keep the previous bill until you pay the new one. Then you should throw out the previous one when you file the new one. This way you never have to set aside a few hours to go through and purge your files.
That’s it – four simple steps! Go forth and conquer your paper monster.