Paper Problems: Tips for Organizing Necessary Documents

checklist-important-documents-750As more things have migrated to an online platform, maybe you hoped that the paper piles in your life would be reduced or even eliminated. Money would be saved, and the extra space where paper formerly resided could be devoted to other uses. If you are relying on cloud storage, computer files can still be lost, and many people are still more comfortable playing it safe with paper records.

Fortunately, you can reconcile the value of electronic records, all the paper in your life, and your desire for organization. Like any organizing project, time and effort will be involved, but the result will give you a great sense of accomplishment and peace of mind knowing that everything is in its rightful place.

Step 1: Gather

By keeping your organizing project simple, you will reduce the risk of becoming overwhelmed and abandoning it. First and foremost, even before you choose your final paper destination, start by gathering all your paperwork for review. You may find that you can condense your records into convenient accordion files, or maybe you need a three-drawer filing cabinet, but you will not know until everything is in front of you.

Step 2: Pile

Next, divide your paperwork into piles, but attempt to generalize instead of nitpick. All receipts go in one pile, all household documents in another, all product manuals in another, etc. Limited piles will help you save time during this step and when you are looking for a record later. For instance, if all receipts are in one place, you will not have to remember if the receipt for your last oil change is under “Receipts – Automobile,” “Receipts – March 2015,” or “Receipts – Services.”

Step 3: Customize Your Paper Management System

Now that you know how much space and how many supplies you need, create a fluid system that makes sense to you. If you just need folders or accordion files, choose different colors that will help you find records quickly. After a few times looking in the red folder for receipts, you will automatically reach for red the next time. If you need to organize and store more records, investigate some of the stylish options that are now available.

Safe and Secure

Some paperwork may need to be under lock and key, like bank account information, birth certificates, passports, deeds, wills, etc. Even though almost all records can be replaced if necessary, you may want to consider investing in a fireproof lock box or safe.

Action Items

Not everything should be stored out of sight. Things like bills that need to be paid, children’s school paperwork that needs to be returned, or prescriptions that need to be filled should be visually vexing. That is, you should determine a spot where you will see and act upon that paperwork in a timely manner. This sub-project is another opportunity to get creative while you brainstorm a location or container for your actionable paperwork.

Weekly Filing Duty

Once everything is stowed away in an organized manner, you can develop a filing schedule (once a week at a minimum) so that the paper does not get out of control again. You can also start going through individual files to eliminate records you no longer need and sub-organize if it makes sense.

For more tips on organizing your home and implementing smart storage solutions, check out the other articles on our blog. If you would like professional help with your organization projects, contact Garage Décor and More for a FREE consultation, or call 618-789-7969.