How To Organize Paper Clutter
Paper clutter and lack of an effective filing system is one of the greatest causes of household clutter! Bills, mail, schoolwork, and other papers enter our homes on a daily basis. If you don’t keep on top of it, the paperwork will quickly become an overwhelming mess! I MUST confess, a cluttered kitchen counter makes me NUTSO!
One of the things we do for our clients OFTEN is help them create an easy to follow filing system and one that supports them and saves them valuable time AND money at tax time!! But today, I want to share some helpful tips and strategies with you so that YOU can start tackling some of that paper clutter on your own.
But, if you KNOW that this is an area you do not manage well and you’ll just never get to it, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can talk about how we can get your papers in order PRONTO (especially if your tax deadline requires it ☺ )
Creating a System
Creating an effective filing system that eliminates paper clutter and makes it easy to find what you need is easy for us, but for many people it is just NOT in their wheelhouse. That’s why dozens of clients hire us each and every year to help them navigate this part of their life ☺
I have worked with seniors who could no longer manage the overwhelm of correspondences and documents. They were accruing late fees and received shut off notices because they just couldn’t keep up.
We have also worked with people who own their own businesses and were dinged with fees from the IRS for not filing on time because they had no idea where all their necessary expenses and documentation were. (true story!)
We have even entered homes and been handed trash bags FULL of paper. And, some people stash all their paperwork in large totes, unsure of where to even begin.
That’s when they decide to get the HELP they need and deserve. And I just want to mention too, that we understand how difficult it is to bring someone into your home or office, eyes on the “mess” and in your financials. We are professionals and we’re there to only do ONE job, get you out of the overwhelm you’re currently in and your confidentiality is a top concern for us as well.
How much does your clutter really does COST you??
- The average American spends one year of his or her life looking for lost or misplaced items, according to the National Association of Professional Organizers.
- Studies also show that people with a messy desk or work area lose 1.5 hours a day “looking for stuff” or being distracted by the clutter.
- Sadly, twenty-three percent of people pay bills late and incur fees because their statements have been lost in the clutter.
If you’re ready to reorganize your own paperwork and create an effective filing system, I have some tips JUST for you!!
12 TIPS to keep your paperwork and files better organized:
1. Consider how you would look for this information. What’s the “natural” way you would look for your legal information for example? Would you look for it under your lawyer’s name or something simple like “legal info”?
2. Color-coding can be helpful for some people but confusing to others. What’s your style?
3. Do NOT over complicate things. Simple is easier to maintain.
4. Do NOT over sub-categorize things. Your files just become overstuffed and messy. The opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
5. My rule of thumb is this, (this is where many organizing professionals may differ from my views, but there is always a method to madness)! Keep all tabs in one direction. Either center, right justified, or left justified. This way when you add or delete a file, you never disturb the flow of tabs.
6. Keep files, labels and other materials on hand to make it easier and quicker to create new files when necessary.
7. Have a shredder on hand for information that should be shred.
8. Create a “To-File” box on your desk to collect everything that needs to be filed.
9. Schedule time each week or month (whatever your need is) to empty, sort and file what is in your “to-file” box.
10. Physically put that designated time into your calendar.
11. Plan a file purge every six months to a year to clean out dated, irrelevant or unnecessary files.
12. Revisit the setup of your system regularly to ensure it meets the needs of your business, and be willing to adjust it as necessary.
Don’t Give up!
Tackling a job like this on your own can be tedious and completely overwhelming to you. To ensure yourself the best chance of success, remember this:
- Organizing a years’ worth of paperwork will NOT happen in an hour. Schedule yourself several 1 or 2 hour blocks of time to tackle your mountain, one piece of paper at time. (We work with clients in 4 hour blocks of time, but do NOT recommend that to anyone who is NOT used to doing this type of work because it can be exhausting and physically painful at times).
- You’ll want to have more files then you think you need! You never want to end up short when you’re in the middle of your epiphany.
- Do NOT overcomplicate things. Think the way YOU think, that will give you the BEST chance of success.
- Have a reward waiting for you! Be sure to reward yourself for each accomplishment you make towards reclaiming your space.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the process or don’t know where to begin or perhaps you need a caring helping hand to guide you, schedule a free assessment call with one of our Professional Organizers.
We can listen and help you decide the BEST way to conquer your clutter once and for all ☺
Call us directly at 717-746-TASK or email me directly at email@example.com!!
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