Paper, paper, everywhere! It can sometimes feel like you are drowning in paperwork and you aren’t sure how to stop it. Developing a home office filing system might be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Having a clear system in place saves time, creates less stress, and reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed. Here are some tips from the Professional Organizer in NYC to develop your own home paper management system:
Develop home office filing categories. The key to any file system is simplicity and ease. The system needs to be clear and easy to maintain. Label your file folders with words or phrases that will enable you to quickly retrieve the information. You can use colored files to clearly identify important files with one glance. Important categories may include action (for calls to be made, bills to pay, current project), reference (files you may refer to as you complete your daily tasks), and archive (files you don’t access often but need to keep, such as tax information).
Find the best location. An important step in the paper management process is having an easily accessible location. If you have a filing system stored away from your desk or wherever you do most of the paperwork, it will be easy to avoid filing and the stack of papers will pile up. Make sure the files that you use regularly are within arm’s reach. The archived files can be stored in a closet away from your desk as they aren’t used often.
Have an incoming system. If you want to get ahead of the paper clutter, then you need to have an incoming system that tackles the paper right away. Have a designated spot for your incoming mail, school paperwork, etc., so that they aren’t misplaced. Schedule time daily to sort through the paperwork and file appropriately. By having a system in place and spending just a few minutes sorting daily, you will stay ahead of the paper clutter. Most importantly, you won’t have to frantically search for anything as you know exactly where to find each document.
Decide what needs to stay and what can go. The key to a paper management system is remembering that not every piece of paper needs to be kept. Items related to tax returns, contracts, and real estate records should always be kept. Past billing statements can be tossed after you confirm that they’ve been paid. Junk mail, catalogs, and magazines you are not currently reading have no place in your home. Papers coming home from school can be recycled after you take action by writing down dates or reminders in a calendar. Shred documents with identifying information, such as account numbers, birth dates, passwords, or signatures. Recycle items like junk mail, school reminders, advertisements, and scrap paper.
Once you create a simple home office filing system, you’ll need to spend some time maintaining it. Devoting a few minutes daily to sorting and filing your paperwork means less headache later when you need to locate an important bill or tax record. Once your home filing system is in place, you’ll never drown in the sea of papers again!