One of the toughest areas to keep organized is: PAPERWORK.
There is constantly a steady stream of incoming mail, bills, business cards, greeting cards, flyers and who knows what else types of paper seeping in to our lives on a daily basis. If we don’t dedicate time to opening it, sorting it, and putting it away, it can build up FAST.
This home office was over run with paperwork, mail, and magazines.
This couple had a great system of incoming bills and a calendar of when each bill was due, knowing to pay it by that date. The problem they ran into, was then filing each paper document after it was paid.
Most of them were placed into the “to file” tray, which, after a while started overflowing to the desk… and eventually to the floor.
The first step was to shred as much of it as we could.
There were a ton of “non-bill” statements that they’d get, detailing their accounts, but was the same kind of information they could easily look up online if they needed it. I’d say we cut the paperwork stack nearly in half, just by getting rid of those non-important documents.
If it’s not a bill, tax document, or declaration of your policy… 99% of the time, you don’t need to hang on to it.
We then sorted the remaining paperwork into stacks that we’d be filing: receipts, tax documents, bills/statements by company, and keepsakes – just to name a few.
After sorting the paperwork, we needed to clear out and re-organize the filing cabinet. A lot of the files were old companies and accounts that were no longer used. Off to the shredding machine!
We then took out all the old folders, changed the tabs to meet our corresponding paper piles.
We put all the files back in the cabinet according to how often they’d be accessed. The tax documents and rarely accessed insurance policies were in the bottom drawer and the frequently filed bills/statement accounts were in the top drawer.
With a little time left over, we dusted the office, wiped down the desk and shelving, cleaned out the small office supplies drawers and developed a system for incoming mail to be opened and sorted weekly.
Another great system that this client implemented was setting up a personal home/family email address that both he and his wife could access where all home and purchasing accounts directed their e-correspondence.
They are also considering signing up for automatic billing for all of their payments that would come out of a bills-only checking/savings account where they know just how much to put in each pay period and the bills can take care of themselves, saving them all that time they’d sit down at the desk, write out checks and bother with filing the statements.
Making any paperwork automated by doing online correspondence not only saves you time, but it cuts down on hard resources being used to produce them.
Less stress, more trees!