Do you have a mountain of paperwork that just keeps piling up because you can’t get on top of it and don’t know where or how to start sorting it? Here are 10 tips to get you started on sorting out that paperwork pile and keeping on top of it!
1. Before you even start to tackle that paperwork, buy some storage containers/trays so you have somewhere to sort it into. I suggest starting with 4 or 5 trays and sort them like this:
- Make one a ‘to do’ or ‘action’ file which will usually entail your bills, utilities and health related documentation.
- Another ‘school’ (if you have school aged children you will understand just how many forms they each bring home).
- ‘home’. This could contain quotes you received on painting, to travel brochures of your dream holiday or recipes to file away when you get your recipe folder!
- ‘Information’. Could contain information such as dates the leaf sweeper will be in your street from the Council, or a flyer you picked up from the local tafe college on upcoming courses.
- ‘Work’, ‘Uni’, ‘Sport’ or something else you do in your life that generates a lot of specifically related paperwork.
These are just ideas, but you get the jist on how you can tailor the trays to suit your lifestyle.
2. Gather it up!
If your paperwork is scattered all over your desk and bench then contain it all in one pile – unsorted! Take everything off that desk and give it Mr Sheen. So now you can start with a clean desk, the sorting will look a lot less intimidating and overwhelming!
3. Time to tackle that pile! Open your mail and have a bin right next to you so you can throw junk mail and the envelopes away straight away.
4. Work out what you need to keep. It’s good to keep one file that has all your identification information in it and another that has all the warranties for items in the home such as your air conditioner, heater in it, so they are easy to find in an emergency.
5. Sort into the trays as above. If you can’t find a topic it fits under then have a miscellaneous folder for now, but don’t fall into the trap of sticking everything back in there because that just defeats the purpose and re-routes the problem!
6. Make time to revisit old files and paperwork. If your cabinet is overflowing it’s time to throw out those bills you kept more than a year ago! Legal documents and records need to be kept, but old bills etc can be binned, especially since most bills can be accessed on line nowadays.
7. Once you have sorted into the trays you can divide again into manila folders. Label: Finances including mortgage, credit and bank accounts, Insurances, Super, tax including receipts, Utilities, and health.
8. Set aside a regular time and day once a fortnight to complete and sort your paperwork. If you stay on top on this, it won’t take you long to complete!
9. Delegate. If you can’t see yourself continuing to sort the paperwork then delegate this task to someone else in your family or you could hire a VA (virtual assistant) or PA. You could scan the docs you want to keep and the VA could sort the docs into categories in I Cloud for you to access when needed.
10. If all else fails, hire a bookkeeper or professional organizer. The bookkeeper will ensure you have your financial information up to date at your fingertips, and the professional organizer will set up effective paperwork systems for you. Their rates start at around $50 an hour and it might save you hours and hours of work and follow up calls requesting documents and information.
Visual clutter can lead to mental clutter, so just think of all the tasks you could tackle and accomplish if you were not bogged down in the details of now where is that piece of paper!