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 2017 files into an already overflowing filing cabinet, follow this Professional Organizer in NYC’s tips for organizing paperwork from the end of last year.
Gather the necessary supplies. Set yourself up for success by sitting down to work on your files with all the needed equipment at your disposal. This ensures 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 later on).
Decide what files to store. Though this may differ based on your specific business needs, some things 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 As you go through your filing cabinet, get rid of notes that are no longer applicable or research information that has already been used.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, reduce the cost of storage and also to provide backup copies if needed.
Know how long you plan to store your 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. As you label the contents of each box include the date the files can be discarded/shredded.
Be conscious of 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 tidy 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 Professional Organizer in NYC.