As a professional organizer, paper organization is the number one service request I receive from my clients and it's totally understandable...
Papers, files, documents, records, reports, archives, information overload! My process for organizing paperwork will help you gain control once and for all.
Due to its constant inflow, the overwhelming rate at which piles build up, and therefore, the seemingly insurmountable task of keeping up, paper is a primary source of clutter.
How great would it be to locate a specific piece of paper in 2 minutes or less?
Would you like to spend less time and effort searching for documents and therefore be more productive?
How about reducing stress levels because you have a system and pay your bills on time?
Paper organization is important for so many reasons. The following tips on organizing paper files will help you prevail over the piles!
Utilize the general organizing procedure of purge, sort and store, and apply it when organizing paperwork.
• Start by going through your paper one piece at a time, and decide if it is worth keeping.
**IT IS VERY IMPORTANT to pace yourself during this process. DO NOT look at your paper clutter in its entirety. Go through it by sectioning off one pile at a time, and commit to doing a little every day.**
• In order to make decisions for non-personal information (i.e. ripped out magazine articles), ask yourself appropriate questions (Is this information outdated? Can I access this on the internet?).
• As you make decisions, put the discards in their corresponding pile, bag or box - Recycle (discards without personal information), Shred (discards with personal information), Trash (non-recyclable discards).
• As you make decisions, separate the papers you are keeping into general categories (i.e. Financial, Medical, Memorabilia).
• After each purging session you complete, take out the discards and store the papers you are keeping in file boxes or file folders in order to maintain the categories you set up.
• When you have pared down as much as possible, sort what's left into specific categories using file folders.
• For instance, let's sort the file box you created during the purge process of all your important medical documents. Do this by classifying them into specific medical categories such as designating one folder per family member.
• It is important that the categories make sense to you, so that relocation is possible and even timely.
• Now that your paper files are organized into folders, utilize a file cabinet or file cart to store them. See below for some great paper storage solutions!
• IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN PAPER ORGANIZATION, IT IS IMPERATIVE TO STAY ON TOP OF THE PAPER CLUTTER EVERY DAY. Take 10 minutes at the end of each day to file papers in their proper places.
• It is also a good idea to have an "Action" or "To Do" tray on your desk to house the items that require action. This is a great way to keep these important papers in your line of sight without creating a pile.
**Go through this tray at the end of the day as well to ensure you stay on top of your responsibilities.**