Home filing is something that almost everyone can improve on.
- Gather all of your paper in the same room. Yup, basic. But I don’t want you running back and forth, or wondering if you have files somewhere else. Get it all in one place. That alone might take 30 minutes today, and then you can stop.
- Use the right files. A heathly filing system has tabbed files AND hanging file folders. Tabbed files allow you to work with files when you have to pull them out of the drawer. Hanging folders help keep files standing at attention inside the drawer or filing bin, so it’s easier to re-file.
- The biggest category that you might be dealing with early in the year is tax stuff. Be sure to start a “Taxes 20XX” file now for last year, so you can pop any tax related papers and mail into it. You’ll be getting lots of 1099’s and year end statements from January through March, and you’ll want to put those with the tax papers you already have.
- While you are at it, create a “Taxes 20YY” file for the current year, to catch donation receipts and anything else that might relate to the taxes you will file next year.
- Make sure you also have an easy-to-get-to Vital Records file. If you didn’t get to it already, be sure to label a file with “Vital Records” now, so you can pack in those important documents when you find them.
As for your unpaid bills, find a space for them that is ONLY for them, and is NOT in your files or drawers. One of my favorite tools is a vertical napkin holder from the dollar store. Keep this on your desk or counter, but ONLY keep bills in it.
Pay most of your bills online? Many people do these days, but it doesn’t eliminate paper, and it doesn’t mean you always pay on time. Here are some tools and tips to help you manage and organize online bill paying.
Once your bills are paid, put receipts right into a file folder. One reason many people don’t file is because they think they should be filing into very detailed categories (like electric, mortgage, phone, etc.). Try something different this year. Label a file called “Paid Bills- 20YY (non-tax-related)” or something similar. When you pay your bills for the week or month, just put the bill stubs or receipts into that folder. Yes, you’ll be mixing categories, but that’s really ok. Chances are, you won’t be referencing these this often, if ever. But you’ll save a TON of time by filing into just one big category, and those receipts will finally be off your kitchen counter and dining room table. Not sure you like this idea? Just try it. Prove me wrong. I’d love to hear how it works for you.
By the way, if you are clearing years worth of papers, or you haven’t seen your guest bed or dining room table in months (years?) because of the paper covering it, you’ll need several 30-minute sessions. Just start with the basics, and you’ll be able to chip away bit by bit.
Reward time…we’re almost through the month. Have you rewarded yourself for each 30-minute organizing project you’ve completed? A reward could be anything…
- a cup of hot chocolate when your 30-minute timer tells you you are done
- permission to download the TimeTimer app so you have a nifty new timer at hand
- Purchasing a Freedom Filer system to help you make beautiful, maintenance-free files for yourself.