How to Free Yourself From Filing Paperwork

Filing paperwork is NOT my favorite task. But I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be a task I dread. These days, filing paperwork is a lot easier. Much of what we used to file is now online, so it’s okay to throw a lot of it out. If you don’t own a business, there’s very little you need for tax purposes. Here are a few of my top paper decluttering tips: 

  • Go paperless. Paperless statements save you lots of paper clutter headache. It’s easy to set up bill paying via your bank. This way, you don’t have to deal with envelopes, stamps, or checks.
  • Don’t keep email statements. Most banks and credit card companies can send you statements via email. Once you’ve paid the bill, delete it from your computer. You can always access it on their website.
  • Be selective with receipts. Keep only the ones for major purposes. Throw out receipts for everyday purchases like those from Walgreens or Whole Foods. 

If you must keep any paperwork, keep your system simple. 

  • Create broad categories for things you don’t access often. For example, instead of having individual file folders for each insurance policy, place all insurance policy statements in one file folder. When you look in the file folder labeled “insurance,” it’s easy to leaf through a small amount of paper to retrieve it. You can do this with utilities, phones, credit card statements, etc.
  • Leave detailed filing for areas you access often. Concentrate on developing a more detailed file system for the areas that you need to access more often, like medical, technical issues, or household expenses.
  • Make way for the new year. At the end of December, I pack up last year’s bills and receipts and start over for the new year. But I leave the folders in place so I don’t have to recreate them. I clip together the contents of each file folder and label it with a yellow sticky note. Then I place all the paperwork in a large envelope and label it by year.
  • Simplify the important stuff. “Important” means anything you’d need if you couldn’t access your home after a disaster. Place all important documents in one place. In an emergency, you can quickly take these with you: passports, your will, a list of bank accounts and numbers, credit card numbers, insurance policy numbers, and mortgage paperwork.
  • Invest in a trash can and shredder you like. The more you like them, the more you’ll want to use them.

Whenever I find an organizing tool I like, I post it on my Facebook page. I’ll be posting a few paper-related ideas for things that help you get rid of paper this month!

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