Filing and managing paperwork doesn’t have to be horrible! It becomes an issue when its neglected over a long period of time and then ones filing cabinet becomes full of irrelevant information. What exactly does that mean? Well, by now, we’ve all heard the statistic that 80% of what we file we NEVER look at again.
So I say, why bother filing it?! Okay, so we do need to hang onto some paperwork, but it doesn’t need to take over our office and our life. Here are three simple steps to accomplishing this task:
1. Create files for relevant paperwork. That would include Utilities, Insurance, Mortgage, Taxes, Medical, Frequent Flyer Information, etc. Dont overload your filing cabinet with out-of-date, irrelevant articles and paperwork that you might need. The filing cabinet is NOT a place for paperwork that requires a DECISION. Make a decision before filing it!
2. Consider NOT filing the hard copy if you can duplicate a piece of paperwork easily. For example, a detailed phone bill that’s available to you online or the countless articles you’ve saved but will likely never read before something more current is published online. Make friends with Google and bookmarking pages you intend to read.
3. Of course, you want to keep hard copies of Insurance Policies and Mortgage Papers. A complete list of Important Papers that should be kept in a fireproof safe, which can be purchased for less than $50 at an Office Supply Store.
Keep it simple: Set up your filing system with hanging files as the main category and third-cut manila folders for the sub-categories. That way, when it comes time to purge the prior years paperwork, you simply pull the manila folder, place it in a Bankers Box, label the box, and archive it.
There’s no reason to save PAID Utility Bills from 2007 in your existing filing cabinet! In fact, once your taxes are complete and you’ve taken the home office deduction (if it applies to you), unless you want to compare from year-to-year, shred the utility bills to save space.
What you Need to set up a filing system:
3. A very LARGE trash bag (Hefty, Hefty, Hefty)
4. Half a dozen Bankers Boxes
5. Box of colorful hanging folders
6. Vinyl Tabs (3.5 inch) for labeling folders
You’ll be surprised at how much paperwork you actually no longer need. Follow the tried-and-true method of FILE, ACT, TOSS. Those are the three main categories paperwork fall into. The ACT items go on a To Do List. The File items are what you’ll place in the filing cabinet. And the TOSS will lighten your load tremendously!