7 Tips: How To Get Paperwork Organized

Are there some jobs you just hate to do? I have a list. At the top of the list is filing. I just hate having to file because I'm stuck with my paperwork, darling hubby's, and our jointly owned paperwork. So the filing tends to pile up.


Of course, I've had an excuse for not keeping up with it since I was "camping out" since July at our weekend home with only my essential file folders.

Although we moved into our house on Nov. 21, it was being remodeled so the paperwork kept growing. With 99% of the remodeling completed and the unpacking finished, I ran out of excuses. So I tackled the monstrous job of organizing and filing everything this week. (That's why I haven't been blogging.)

7 Tips to Help You

Now, you may not have as much stuff to keep track of as I do, but if you own property, run a business, or have any extra pages to your tax return, then you're in the same boat as I am. Here are some ways to cut down on the mess.

1. Lay it all out. Get a folding table or use the top of a bed -- assuming it doesn't have to be slept in that night -- or  a dining table. On this large flat surface, organize all the various stacks of papers. Bills in one pile, receipts in another, tax documents in another pile, warranty papers, property papers, etc.

We had sold a house and bought a house so we had lots of legal papers to corral. Also, we had masses of receipts, estimates, and bills for the remodeling. You get the picture. Just organize your stacks of paper so they make sense.

2. Get a container. Get an adequately-sized file cabinet or two if you've got that much stuff. I've got one for my business. Hubby has one, and we have another for joint or household. Heck even a cardboard box or two will work.

3. Make it easy with the right tools. Get a box or two of file folders or hanging folders -- whatever is easiest for you.

4. Start clean. If you have existing files, clean them out. The first of the year is a great time to do this. Toss all that medical and prescription stuff, old papers that are no longer valid, and anything you don't need into a box or bag to shred -- unless the paperwork is being used as validation for your tax return.

5. Take stock. With a black Sharpie or a label maker, look over the organized piles of paper and see how you need to label the folders and do that.

6. Allot time. Now that all the organization is out of the way, set aside an hour each morning while your energy is high to put those papers in their respective folders and into the file drawer. An hour may be all you need. If you need more time, then schedule it.

7. Work at it until you're finished.

When you're organized this way, you can immediately find that warranty for your color laser printer or your title insurance on your home or that article you clipped from a magazine that sparked an idea for a book.

The bed in my guest room can actually be used now because all my filing is done. I am basking in the glow of accomplishment, and it's a warm glow because I really hate filing.

Takeaway Truth

A little organization goes a long way.

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