I am pleased to have Sarah Chezum of Home Simply Organized guest posting on my blog today. Sarah is an organizer and blogger -- follow her at HomeSimplyOrganized.com or on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Enjoy!
Paper piles accumulate so fast in our homes! It's hard to know what to keep and what to toss. Most people keep far more paperwork than they need to, because they are afraid of tossing something important. Today I am going to give you 5 steps to take to banish your paper piles forever and confidently keep just what you need!
Step 1. Gather all your paperwork
If you have paper piles hiding out in various spots of the house, go around and collect them all. Set all your paper on a table, or if the table isn’t big enough, you can spread out on the floor. Today we are just talking about paperwork, not sentimental papers like cards or kids art projects. If you find those set them aside for another organizing day.
Step 2. Set up a file and folders for your important papers
A simple filing system is best. Remember you are going to toss and shred most of your papers, so don’t worry about having a huge file of filling cabinet. I was able to fit all of my family's important papers in just one magazine file. That is for a family of 4, with student loan documents and a home mortgage. You can use magazine files like I did, a small filing cabinet, or even a simple banker’s box to store your papers.
Use manila folders or hanging file folders to sort your papers into categories. Label your folders with simple, clear titles. Common categories include:
Step 3. Sort
Go through your paperwork sorting, shredding, and tossing. Use this list to see which important papers you need to save. Just about everything else can be shredded or tossed.
Papers that have your social security number, bank account number or other sensitive information should be shredded. Junk mail, and paperwork that doesn’t contain sensitive information can just be tossed in the recycle bin.
Step 4. Go paperless
Some important papers must be saved via hard paper copy, like birth certificates and social security cards. Usually if a paper must be saved in hard copy it has a seal or notarized signature on it. Aside from a few important legal documents, most papers can be stored digitally. You can scan your papers, take digital photos of them (be sure they are still readable), or ask for them to be emailed to you. If your car insurance company usually mails you a long policy packet, ask them to email it to you instead. Create organized folders on your computer for your documents.
It’s a good idea to backup your important papers by keeping them on an external hard drive or using a program like google docs. You can access google docs from any computer by logging into your account with your password. This way if your computer crashes you will still have all of your documents.
To help cut down on the amount of paper coming into your home set up paperless billing. You can save yourself from paper piles by eliminating them before they even get to you. If your utility companies offer paperless billing sign up! Paying bills online is quick and secure.
Step 5. Set up a short term paper folder
Once all of your important papers are filed away, set up a file for incoming paperwork. The best way to handle incoming short-term paperwork is with one simple file. I use a magazine file for this job. Any bills, flyers, or cards that come in the house go straight to this file. Don’t set the mail on the counter or table. Immediately, put your paperwork in the temporary folder. Junk mail should go straight to the trash or recycle can. Don’t set it down on the table and don’t put it in your temporary folder, just toss it right away. Go through your file regularly, anywhere from once a day to once a week. Pay any bills and then toss them. Respond to cards and notes and then toss them. File any important papers into your long term file.
With this simple system you can banish paper piles forever!
For further information, check with the Internal Revenue Service.
(To see original, go to http://www.HomeSimplyOrganized.com/sorting-important-papers.)
While my PC was being worked on for 5 hours today, I reorganized my clothes closet. It had been a while. It was good to remind myself what clients go through. It can be gut wrenching but oh so liberating. I am donating bags of cute clothes that don't fit and it’s unlikely they will again. Bodies change as we age. <Sigh.> I tossed every hanger that's not a Huggable. I organized everything the way it once was. It's a tiny closet. It looks nice now. I even found 4 pair of my favorite jeans!
The process evoked many memories of my journey here.
When I moved into this studio, I came from a large 2-bedroom condo. I had rented there for 17 years when they decided to sell. I had a wonderful young roommate who split the rent with me and was a marvel around the house. But Jay was a student and not in a financial position to sign a lease with me, so I was on my own. Hence, with rents being what they are in Los Angeles, I was forced to move into a studio.
In order to do so, I had to significantly pare down my belongings – furniture, kitchen items, clothing, costume jewelry, art, the whole kit and caboodle. I would only have room for 1/4th of my hard-earned “stuff.” And I had a month to do it.
Do you think you can make money selling your things? Wrong. I had two apartment sales and a few yard sales. I advertised everywhere. Guess what? People don’t want to pay for anything. You have to grit your teeth when people offer you $10 for something that you recently paid $100 for. I sold some things but ….
I had to give many things away – nice things! And I made a huge donation to charity. When all was said and done, and moving day arrived, I didn't realize I still had too much stuff.
I loved my overstuffed pink floral sofa, and it would have looked beautiful here. People even wanted to purchase it. But the day I moved in, the movers could not get it through the tiny opening to my doorway. There was no frickin’ way! So I had to leave it outside. I tried to call some people but had no luck. That night it rained. <Deep sigh.>
I have a main room, a decent kitchen, and a tiny bathroom. I had the movers stage the boxes in my kitchen. I didn’t notice they stacked them 4 or 5 boxes high. Once they were gone, I came in to unpack. I realized I couldn’t get into the kitchen. There was no way to move around. I needed help! I called Jay, who came right over. He helped me unpack and get to the point where I could function. I will never be able to thank him enough.
I brought my 2 kitties with me. It was very cold and the heat wasn’t working. The whole ordeal seriously rattled them. They are indoor cats and had never lived anywhere but the condo. So they crawled under the covers of my bed and didn’t come out for 3 days. I was so worried. I then moved the litter box and food right next to my bed and noticed in the morning that they had ventured out. And the heat came on! It then became an adventure for them. And in a few days I got cable, internet and music, so it wasn't as quiet as before.
After unpacking, I realized it was purge time again. <Another sigh.> I had boxes of clothes in every corner. I had one small “walk-in” closet. A good friend came over and installed a tension rod in the back and a shelf above. I then donated more clothes until things fit into my closet and drawers.
But here I am today, happily ensconced in my nest, with 2 happy kitties and everything I really need. And I have a business I LUV.
So I now enjoy every morning when the sun streams through my window and wakes me up. There are still many challenges ahead, but I am aiming straight at them. And I need to remember to keep my closet organized!