By Organising Guru – Sharne Kuper
Now that you have decided on a place to keep your paperwork and have organised your categories, it is time to deal with the backlog of paper clutter that is lying around. Gather it altogether and sort it into the file categories that I suggested in the last post. You may have needed to customise these further as we all have different requirements.
While you are sorting the paperwork into categories, consider if you need to keep it. Only keep what you need. If you do not need to keep it, toss it. If the piece of paper holds personal information be sure to shred it. An investment in a paper shredder is a good idea. They are relatively compact and inexpensive and can give you piece of mind that your personal details are not legible.
As you work through your backlog and you come across anything that needs to be attended to i.e. an overlooked bill which needs to be paid, create an “Action” file. This is a file that is to be kept handy on a desktop or in a drawer, which you regularly open.
Now that the old paperwork has been sorted you need to implement a system to tackle the incoming mail and paperwork.
The simplest method, which I use for most of my clients, is the “3 File System”. This means that you have 3 files on your desktop that are easy to access and are used on a daily basis. These files are: –
“Tax” or “Receipts” (for the current tax year)
When paperwork comes into the house, whether by mail or in a school bag, deal with it immediately. This means open the mail, discard the envelope and then ask yourself the following questions: –
Do I need to keep it?
Yes – it is then put in the “Action” file (if there is something you need to do with it i.e. it is a bill to be paid) OR it goes straight to the “To File” file (i.e. it only needs to be kept for your reference).
Other than bills to be paid, your “Action” file may contain notes like permission slips that need to be returned, notes about upcoming events or scripts to be filled.
For this system to be successful, you need to look at your “Action” file regularly. Do not hide it away and make sure you check it every couple of days. Once you have dealt with something from the “Action” file then put it in your “To File” file.
I created this system to include a “To File” file with the acknowledgement that we all lead busy lives and are unlikely to file papers on a daily or weekly basis. If we at least keep them altogether there is only one place to search for them other than the filing cabinet. It is up to you as to how frequently you file these away in your cabinet or file box. I do it about once a month, sometimes more and sometimes less.
If you are finding your paperwork is in a mess and cannot keep on top of things I hope this has given you some ideas on how to set up a system.
Image credit: pink file hgtv.com hand filing image personalorganizing.about.com
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Sharne is a Sydney based Professional Organiser. After spending most of her career in fashion, she has found her calling in helping people reclaim their space and simplify their lives. “I love doing what I do and seeing what a difference it can make in people’s lives is very rewarding.”