She’s So Organized: Managing the World of Paper

So the time of doing our taxes is here again and this has triggered my new challenge/project this week.  This for a lot of people including myself can be a tedious and time-consuming task, and even for someone who loves organizing not so fun!   If you haven’t done it in a while it can be a bit overwhelming to say the least.  So as I started my new project I began to ask myself how I could come up with a better solution than the one I currently had and of course needed to blog about it :).

Below are some tips that I’ve been using and as always I hope they can help you!

1) Quick Sort

Don’t get into the mud by going through each paper in detail, review quickly and determine if the item can either be thrown out, shredded, or needs to be filed and separate accordingly.  Refer to my link below for a reference document to know how long to keep your paperwork.  Once the quick sort is completed, move the trash and shredded items out of the room, you can discard or shred later.  By doing this you have now removed them from your eye site, which can lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed and prevent you from quitting.

2) Sort items by category

Once you have removed the items that need to be thrown away you can begin the real sort.  I have found sorting items into three or four general categories at first really helps to keep it simple, and prevents you from getting overwhelmed.  The word we would always use K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid).  Also, determine a color code for each category so you can label appropriately later on.

Below are examples of three categories that I use.

  • Financial (Green)
  • Household (Blue)
  • Vital Records (Yellow)

3) Create To Do Folders

These folders will not be used for items that will be immediately filed but for actionable items as well as for new incoming mail.

  • To Pay
  • To Review
  • To File

4) Create more detail folders

For each category I created a manila folder with the proper colored category label described above.  Use removable labels and pencils to always label your folders, this allows you to change if you need later on. 

Examples for Financial:

  • Mortgages
  • Stocks
  • Medical Expenses
  • 401K

Examples for Household:

  • Receipts for Major Purchases
  • Contacts
  • Vacation
  • Auto Maintenance Records
  • Home Maintenance Records

Examples for Vital Documents:

  • Health Insurance
  • Medical Insurance
  • Social Security
  • Taxes (Folder per Year)

Make sure you to do this at least once a year…I find there are a lot of documents you can purge at tax time given the guidelines below.

http://www.shrednations.com/articles/personal-records-retention.php

To get through this tedious task, I highly recommend turning on some enjoyable music!!

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