Last month was National Organization Month and we talked a lot about how to get your home and office more organized. Now, we’re going to help you get your paperwork and finances in order before tax time rolls around.
I can hear you, “But Barbara, organizing papers is soooooo booooooring! I’d rather go clean the cat box!”
I know. I feel your pain. Organizing a file system isn’t the most sexy topic to write about either. With some of our clients though, upwards of 90% of what we do for them is taming the paper beast and creating an efficient filing system is an important first step.
We understand that keeping physical copies of paperwork organized can be overwhelming. Heaps of files can build up in no time. But, if you can keep your filing system structured and organized, all of this paperwork can be dealt with using little time and effort.
Here are four tips to get you starting making your filing system organized and efficient:
Keep Things Simple
Having a cluttered or confusing filing system will only discourage you from using it on a regular basis. Keep things simple and easy to understand, so it doesn’t end up a failed project. Assess what important documents you want to keep, and discard any junk mail or useless documentation that you absolutely have no use for. Not only will it be easier for you to find what you’re searching for, but you will also have more room to save your important files.
Invest in a Filing Cabinet
You need a place where you can keep your files safe and organized. A filing cabinet stores a lot of paperwork in a way that allows it to be accessed efficiently. Every folder is kept upright in the cabinet, so you can go through them and pull documents out of them without removing them from the filing system. This stops you from disturbing your entire filing system if you have to go hunting for a missing document. Filing cabinets also tend to be sturdy and secure, so they’ll keep your important paperwork safe from damage. Some even have locking drawers in the case that privacy is an issue.
Label Your Files
Part of creating a file system that works for you is to label your files in a way that you can easily understand. There are specially designed folders that have tabs to write a brief description of the folders’ contents. For example, if you’re someone who saves receipts, you might have a folder titled “Receipts”. You may want to include sub-folders inside your “Receipts” folder and title the sub-folders based on the year it was received or the store that it came from. It’s important to have a filing system that appeals to YOU so it encourages a habit of using it.
No matter what kind of filing system you put into place, it won’t do any good if things don’t stay organized. As you add new documents to your filing system, make sure they end up in their proper place. Avoid allowing loose papers to pile up and resist the temptation to simply stuff something where it will fit. Yes, it takes a bit of discipline, but with a bit of practice, you can keep your filing system clean and efficient.
With the right tools and planning, you can complete the daunting task of sorting out your paperwork in a snap. By using clearly labeled and documented folders to separate your documents, it makes it very easy to find a place for everything. Your filing cabinet will be streamlined and efficient in no time.
If you’re a senior, or know a senior that might need help with setting up a new filing system, please click here to give us a call—we’d love to help!
Next week we’ll discuss simple ways to organize your finances.