Taming the Paperwork Beast

When you come home, do you face a mountain of papers that you are afraid to face? The mail, the receipts, the magazines and catalogs, etc. that just get piled up day by day, can cause frustration and even fear. I have clients who have missed getting bills paid on time because they couldn’t FIND them. There are a few easy steps I want to share with you to Tame the Paperwork Beast!

First you have to deal with the existing pile. In fact, go through the whole house first and find EVERY piece of paper that doesn’t have a home. Bring all of the piles to a comfortable work space or table. Divide the paperwork into piles:   To Do/Pay, File, Shred, Toss.  Now follow these steps below:

Plan – you must have a plan for keeping up with papers. A filing system is critical, but doesn’t have to be complicated. Develop a system that works for you – the simpler the better. Every home needs to have files for Medical, Legal, Insurance, Bills, Manuals and Warranties. Add others as they apply to you. The pile of papers that you have in the “File” pile can now be placed in the new folders you’ve labeled.

Do – this is the step where you’ll deal with the “To Do/Pay” pile that you sorted earlier. You need to have a desk tray or folder somewhere handy that you will place these papers in every time you open the mail.  All of your bills should be kept in a file that you will remember to look at in time to pay them. I recommend purchasing a 31-day pocket folder that allows you to place each bill in a slot 7 days before it’s due. Then you’ll also have a tray or folder for things “To Do” – such as answering invitations, scheduling appointments, etc. Be sure to consult this folder daily, as well.

Purge – now address the 2 remaining piles: Shred and Toss. Anything that has sensitive personal information on it should be shredded. You can purchase inexpensive shredders anywhere, and they are important to maintaining your privacy. Things that don’t need to be shredded but are definitely trash, can just be tossed or recycled. If you have magazines that you’re done with, donate them to a nursing home or doctor’s office. Newspapers that you’ve read should be recycled. Don’t keep things you don’t need!

Maintain – once you’ve gotten your current piles in order, maintain them. You can keep up with the paperwork on a daily basis, and not have to face the beast again!


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