Now that you have decided what papers you need to file. I suggest a simple system.
Papers fall into 3 categories:
Keep for 1 year (most bills fall into this category). This is a file that you decide on the front end that you only need for 1 year maximum. I put my bills that aren't used for taxes, explanation of benefits statements, and and quarterly statements here. Why spend time filing papers that you won't need in a year! Mark the file “Shred in 1 year (current year)”. When the file ages one year, you shred it without looking at it.
Taxes Keep for 7 years (or as long as your accountant recommends). This is where you keep anything you may use for filing your next taxes. Previous year taxes each get their own file.
General Reference. These are the files that you need to keep indefinitely. For example, your major receipts, information for a line of credit. This may also include reference papers for hobbies such as gardening or decorating.
Now that you’ve gotten through your papers, it’s time to address the rest of your desk. (If you don’t have a desk, sort through the areas of your home where you store your stationary and office supplies).
1. Go through one drawer at a time, putting like objects together, throwing away trash, and donating unnecessary duplicates.
2. Create themes for each drawer, such as “stationary”, “office supplies”, “computer supplies”, “pens/pencils”. Be sure to put your most frequently used items in the drawers that are the most accessible.
3. If you pay your bills at your desk, place your necessary bill paying supplies (envelopes, check book, stamps) in an area of a drawer. If you pay bills on-the-go, put your supplies in a portable container.
4. Use drawer organizers to organize smaller items. Or use containers your already have. Ice cube trays are great for storing rubber bands, paper clips, thumb tacks, and other small items. Be creative! Use gripping shelf liner to prevent your items from sliding around.
5. Clear off the surface of your desk. Can some of the items be stored in your drawers? Do you have too many knick knacks on your desk? Maximize your work space by minimizing these items.
We’ve attacked the papers and we’ve addressed the desk. Now take a look around your office area and see what remains. Make a list of office projects you need to complete and then see this week how many you can get done. Here are some suggestions:
1. Declutter your bookcases.
2. Clear out old files on your computer.
3. Sort your coupons.
4. Assess the area for items that don’t belong in your office. Give them a better home.
Decrease the clutter over-stimulation by covering up your disorganized areas with sheets or dropcloths. Work on one area at a time.
Enlist the help of a friend or a professional organizer at Set Me Free! Two can get the job done faster and more efficiently!