As much as I love to organize a client’s home and make it pretty and peaceful and lovely, there are just some parts of a home that must be functional. For many people, a huge headache is PAPER – especially if you are a parent.
Parents know that kids bring home SO. MUCH. PAPER. If you’re like most people, you probably set up a filing system forever ago. You’ve slowly filled it up over the years and haven’t touched it since. Now, the cabinet is overstuffed and the piles on top have started growing higher and higher. Maybe you even have a “TO FILE” box, but good luck finding anything in there in a timely manner.
The doldrums of winter are a great time to organize your filing system. With tax season approaching quickly, it’s a good time to get your documents in order while clearing out papers from the last calendar year and before.
The key is to clear out your filing cabinet first, create relevant folders, and be able to file AND FIND the papers quickly and easily.
Tips for Organizing Paper Items
> Set a timer for 20 minutes – take a break or keep going when it goes off.
> Start with your existing filing system and clean out each file.
> Invest in a good shredder and use it as needed – don’t set up a “TO SHRED” bin. It will just pile up – and who wants to waste their valuable time doing that? Staples has bulk shredding and a grocery paper bag size is usually about $20 to shred. You can even check for local events for free shredding – but I don’t recommend hanging on to old papers for months while waiting on a free event. Kids’ artwork and memory/ keepsake items shouldn’t go in a file system. I typically recommend clear storage bins for this. One per child/person and clearly labeled for ease of use.
> Switch to online bill pay. I highly recommend this! Even if you are more comfortable getting paper bills, paying online makes the process faster and easier. Additionally, if you have a problem with your bill, you will know it by the next billing cycle or two.
How To Organize Paper Items for Storage
Basically, there are 3 types of storage – active, reference and archival.
> Active storage
Might be a desktop filing system. Something you refer to often or a temporary holding spot because you know you will use items soon for an event coming up. These are items you like to have at your fingertips.
> Reference storage
Should hold things like auto records, home repair or improvement info, or education info. You might need them, but they don’t have to be in “prime real estate” areas of your home.
> Archival storage
Should include permanent files like tax returns, closing paperwork on your home, birth marriage and death certificates, etc.
Tax returns can be filed in a labeled box in the attic because you probably won’t need to refer to them but you just have to keep them for a certain amount of time.
Check with the IRS to see how long you need to keep records. You wouldn’t believe the amount of tax records I have found and shredded from the 1980s and earlier in my clients’ homes.
Less Clutter, More Life
A key to wrangling paper is to reduce or eliminate the amount of paper coming in – remove yourself from mailing lists, catalogs that you don’t want anymore – it will save you time in dealing with all the stuff, as well as being good for the environment
If you are feeling overwhelmed at the amount of paper you have and need to sort through – Home Reimagined can help! Book a call today and let’s chat!