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.)