Do you have papers shoved in drawers or heaped into piles within your home? Mail and documents can quickly crowd your workspace and even pile up. Piling up those stacks of papers stifles your productivity.
I know I am guilty of getting the mail and letting it pile up on the kitchen counter. Even documents sit on my desk that I need to go through and decide to file or discard. Sometimes I feel like I might be holding onto papers and documents I no longer need anymore.
I finally decided this month I needed to tackle this problem and get organized with my piles of papers that need to be decluttered. I know I shouldn’t leave it until another year. And neither should you!
Here are some tips I used when tackling this paper problem.
One Touch Rule
Every sheet of paper that I came across I made sure I act on it. Was I going to file it or discard it? I decided I needed to no longer say to myself “just do it later” because we all know that does not happen as mom! It only makes an even longer to-do list for me to tackle sometime in the next ten years. So, when you receive your new papers and documents, don’t let it pile up. Either file it away or dispose of it.
Know How Long to Keep It
I ended up saving everything simply because I didn’t know what I might need the document for. I also was never sure how long I needed to keep it.
I decided that important papers, such as paid utility bills, annual investment statements, and copies of checks for non-tax-deductible items could be kept for a year. The IRS recommends keeping IRS tax records, bank statements, and deductible expenses for seven years. Contracts, home-improvement recipes, mortgage records, and deeds should be kept for how long they are active. Marriage papers, education records, and passports should always be kept.
How to Toss
When it comes to tossing out the papers and documents you no loner need, you should shred any papers that have your name, address, phone, or social security numbers. Old insurance policies and receipts can be shredded too.
Consider Going Digital
You can easily minimize the amount of paper you have to shuffle through by going digital. Switch to online billing for credit cards, phone bills, utilities, and bank statements. I found this way to help a lot, especially if you are an online savvy.
If you need to keep important files on hand, scan any documents with your phone camera or printing them out. You can even keep them digitally on your computer by organizing them in designated folders or uploading them to Cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive.
Store Your Papers in One Place
The more scattered your papers are the more likely they might get lost. Try and keep everything in one place, such as a filing cabinet under your desk or within your home office. It helps keep an order but will make your workspace less messy. I switched over to digital online for some important papers and documents like online banking and paying bills, but I also like to store my important items within a file cabinet in my office.
Keep The Routine Up
Once you’ve set a routine for decluttering your papers and documents, it’s important to keep the system in place and going. I set a time each week where I go through a week’s worth of paperwork and follow the simple “One Touch” rule of either filing or tossing.