How to Organize Paperwork
We would all like to think that we are at or near going paperless. However, the truth is that most of us still receive enough mail to make it a difficult to take care of and organize on a weekly basis.
Having huge piles of documents laying around can only leave you feeling unorganized and perhaps stressed out. An afternoon or two worth of work can set you up permanently with a system to relieve that cluttered feeling. It took me some time to develop an effective system worth sharing. Here it is:
From the Mailbox to what?
When you break it down, all paper mail can be divided into four categories. This stage is often the toughest part of the process because it requires you to make a decision about the value of the piece of paper in your hand. Here are the four categories:
1. Recycle/Shred: When mail arrives, have a place where the mail can safely sit until you have a few moments where you can sort the mail. Recycle, shred or toss anything that is junk mail. Open any envelopes quickly to make sure it is junk because sometimes envelopes can be deceiving. (I have tossed envelopes that contained a check before ) Also, be certain to destroy any mail that may have any personal identifiers that could lead to identity theft.
3. Bills to be Paid: For the following three categories you can utilize 3 trays or folders clearly marked with “BILLS TO BE PAID”, “FILE” and “READ”. Open and mark the envelops with due date and send date or any other action to be taken and move your bills to the “BILLS TO BE PAID” area. By setting up specific “pay bills” date twice a month is an excellent way to stay on top of paying your bills.
4. File: These are the items you do not need to take action on but are important to keep and properly file. It can include medical documents, insurance, paystubs, tax documents, investment statements, etc.
How to File Documents Effectively
All of your documents will need a home. For this, you will need a filing system. It could be a file cabinet, a desk filing system or a small file box. The types of files are broken into ‘parent categories’, and ‘subcategories’ by theme. Here are the parent categories (each with a large hanging folder), and the subs I have within them, which each have their own non-hanging folder:
4. Things to Read: Separate into urgent and leisure.
What Happens when My Files Get Too Full?
There are three steps to deal with this issue and reduce the clutter your filing cabinet:
Until then…happy filing!
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