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How I Organized Paperwork in My Files

With the NY on Pause order in place, we have had weeks of working from home and spending the bulk of our days at home. This forced time at home has given us the opportunity to tackle some of those projects that have long been on the back burner. This has been true for me… I have had cleaning out my files which includes organize paperwork on my list for what seems like forever. As the files are contained in either my file cabinet or stowed away in file storage bins in my office closet, I can find documents in seconds so this task was less of an urgency.

Hence, I have constantly postponed this task.  Well that was until COVID-19 had us at home for the great majority of the day. With the onset of spring, my building scheduled a Spring Cleaning Shredding Event and had 5 shredding bins delivered. When faced with the choice of cleaning out my files and then having to spend hours in front of the shredder vs. collecting the papers and feeding them into a locked shredding bin, it was an easy decision. Here are strategies that this NYC Professional Office Organizer followed to organize paperwork in her home office.

I started by gathering supplies which included 3 oversized shopping bags, a plastic bag for recycling, a sharpie and a container for paper and binder clips.

I then assessed the areas to be targeted and prioritized the order. As this was going to be a project that would span a number of days, I blocked time in 2-3 hour chunks on 3 nights.  Even though the bins would be available for 2 weeks, I wanted to get the job done as quickly as reasonably possible and finally check this task off my list!

Before I started the clean-out, I set parameters concerning what I would keep. As the great majority of the files were related to my company, I determined what types of info needed to be kept in hard copy. This included some memorabilia, press clippings, training materials, legal and financial information. By setting these guidelines upfront, I could make decisions while sorting the paperwork very quickly.

As this unexpected opportunity was forcing me to clean out the files, I wanted to be sure to take full advantage of it. I systematically worked my way through the drawers and bins quickly collecting 3 oversized bags of paperwork to be shredded. Seeing the stack of extra hanging folders and empty space in the drawers was very motivating.

Now that my files are cleaned out, maintenance is key as I don’t expect another building shredding event to come to my rescue in the future. I am now limiting what will be kept in the files and plan to add a quick review of my files to my end of the year tasks.

If you have a similar challenge, I highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to get your paperwork organized and clean out your files. It will make it easier to manage both your business and personal paperwork.  For assistance organizing paperwork either virtually or onsite, reach out to your NYC Professional Office Organizer.

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