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Organizing Paperwork for the New Year

As the year is drawing to a close, it’s time to focus on 2018 and a brand new year of business. Do you know what to do with your files from last year? Not everything needs to be saved, and the files are probably taking up valuable real estate in your office. Instead of putting new 2018 files into an already overflowing filing cabinet, you need a plan of action to get (and stay!) organized. Follow this NYC Professional Office Organizer’s strategies for organizing paperwork so that you can hit the ground running in the new year.

Schedule time and gather supplies. Set yourself up for success by scheduling time in the new year to get this project completed. Putting it off only leads to more clutter and chaos. When you are ready to get started, gather all the needed supplied so that you’ll be able to complete the task rather than postponing it to another day. Items you may need include labels, post-it notes, sharpies, manila folders, hanging folders, archive boxes or file box, and a shredder (or a box to hold items to be taken to a shredding facility when you’re done).

Decide what files to store. Though this may differ based on your specific business needs, certain guidelines apply across the board. Items such as tax documents, insurance policies, accounting forms, contracts, etc. typically need to be saved. As you go through your filing cabinet, get rid of notes that are no longer applicable or research information that has already been used. Client files and project files that have been closed can be stored in your reference section making room for your current action files. As you put files into storage boxes, make sure you clearly label each box with the contents and date.

Pick a storage location. If you have the space on site, designate a room or closet to store archive files. If you are using an off-site location, arrange timely pickup and delivery. You can also consider digitally storing your files to save space and reduce the cost of storage.

Know how long to keep files. Your best bet is to consult with your financial advisor or tax advisor concerning how long to keep any financial or tax documents. A rule of thumb is generally 5-7 years, but that may differ based on your personal situation so be sure to check. In addition, you may need to check with your legal advisor concerning the length of time to keep other types of business documents. As you label the contents of each box include the date the files can be discarded/shredded.

Pay attention to what you’re tossing. Instead of throwing out old files or recycling the contents, think first about what information is shared in each file. Anything that includes sensitive personal information about yourself, your business, or your client’s must be shredded. This includes names, phone numbers, social security numbers, account information, birthdates, and more. Play it safe and shred if you are unsure.

When it comes to being prepared for the new year, it’s always a good idea to wrap up the odds and ends from the past year. With your files organized, you will have set yourself up for success! For more hands-on tips and strategies for organizing paperwork in the office, reach out to this NYC Professional Office Organizer.

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