Paper. It’s a bully. We hate bullies, but love seeing them put in their place and that is why we enjoy helping our clients stand up to their paper.
Paper. It taunts us. It creeps into our homes and multiplies at such a rate that we get over-run by it. It piles up and mocks us because it knows that without a system and routine, it will always triumph.
Well, not today. Today, we put paper in its place, and this is how:
One. Piece. At. A. Time.
80% of filed papers are never referred to again, so we are going to be brutal about what makes the cut and what doesn’t.
Most people keep way to0 many papers simply because they do not know what they can let go. Knowledge is power, and half the battle, so have on hand Record Retentions guidelines from your accountant to guide you as to what to keep.
WHEN DIGGING OUT OF THE PAPER PIT …
Be prepared. Have the proper supplies on hand and schedule adequate time for the project. Keep in mind that paper is not a one-stop-shop. It did not pile up overnight, and it will not magically disappear overnight. Prepare yourself for the process.
COME PREPARED – SUPPLIES:
- Recycle bin
- Shred bag(s)
- Bins to sort papers in to
- Sharpie and Post it Notes
SET THE CLOCK. Set your pace, but to thine own self be true. If you can only manage a 2-hour block, set your timer for that and go for it. If you can power through in one sitting, great, but do not feel pressured to start and finish in one day. Set yourself up for small successes in the beginning so they will lead to more success during the entirety of the process.
If you are digging out of a major paper pit, take small steps – and get help if you need it. A professional or a friend, a“clutter buddy,” can keep you on track and hold you accountable. We get help in other areas of our lives, asking for organizational help is no different.
DEFINE YOUR FILING CATEGORIES:
It is all about retrieval, create a system that works for you. Don’t fall pray to thinking it needs to “look” a certain way. It needs to look however you want it to look, but mostly it needs to function, not be featured on the cover of a magazine. Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress.
CREATE A MAINTAINABLE SYSTEM & ROUTINE:
You can use in/out boxes, binders, angled file organizers, or bulletin boards. Use what appeals to you and what you have the highest likelihood of maintaining. If you like “pretty” files, use them. If you are more about function than beauty, go with that. Be sure to not mix business files with home files if you or your significant other works from home.
10 STEPS TO PAPER RECOVERY:
- Gather all your papers and get them into one bin or box. Clear your workspace.
- Pick up the first piece from the top of the pile. Avoid thumbing through the pile.
- Sort papers into one of three piles: KEEP – SHRED – RECYCLE
- Divide the papers in the KEEP bin into 3 sub-categories: FILE-RESPOND TO-PAY.
- Make sure you have a TAX file folder that is labeled with the current year so you will be prepared for next season!
- Use clear 1/5 Smead tabs to create FILE names that you will remember. It is all about retrieval!
- Stop the paper before it even arrives into your home! Opt out of catalogue mailings and credit card offers
- Stand over the recycle bin before the paper hits your desk.
- Designate a tray or inbox to hold your mail until you have time to process the papers.
- Schedule at least 2-3 hours a week to process your papers.