When you think of a home, it’s often the space where your family spends most of their time, right? Whatever your living situation, there are always papers to be dealt with. Storing and organising paperwork doesn’t have to be the nightmare we often think it is.
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You may need to keep documents from work in order for them to be filed for taxes, school may send home reports that need to stay on hand until they’ve been graded, and we all know that life can throw paperwork our way – think about how many bills come through the mail each day!
Trying to organise your home is always hard. You might find yourself getting overwhelmed when trying to clean up and organise at the same time, so it’s worth taking some time out for one task before moving on.
I’ve found that if you take care of organising paperwork first (which is often what starts piling up) and then move on to cleaning, it’s much easier than trying both tasks simultaneously.
This article will show you some creative ways that make organising all this paperwork more convenient and easy.
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Why you should take care of organising paperwork first
Do you ever find yourself staring at a pile of papers on your desk and you don’t know where to start?
I used to come home totally exhausted from the amount of things that needed to be done at work, for my own business and personal life.
When it came time to organising everything, it felt like looking into an abyss -there were so many piles and stacks of paper by the end of the day. Sometimes just sorting through them was a whole separate project within itself. My desk was also overflowing with bills and emails . Reply, reply, reply and they all just keep coming in!
You can lose your mind in all the clutter that comes with constant paperwork.
That’s why it’s important to take some time out and organise your home first.
Many people get overwhelmed with the constant flow of “stuff” that comes through their lives on a daily basis. Papers, bills, reports -oh my! But if you don’t deal with these papers as soon as they come in, they’ll pile up quickly in any home.
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The best ways to organise paperwork
Okay, you have a lot of documents at hand and you need to organise them and then figure out where to store them. What are your options? Here’s some of the most common options for organising your paperwork:
Paperless? But this article is about how to organise your paperwork!
The best way to organise paperwork in your home is to have less of it. Makes sense? Here’s how:
Ask your bank and bill providers to email your statements and bills where possible. This will avoid a lot of paper coming into your house.
Then try going one step further by automating all your bill payments. This will eliminate the need for paper cheques and will also ensure that you never miss a bill payment.
Scan receipts that you need to hold onto for warranties or returns and save them to a folder on your computer that will also be accessible through your phone. That way, when you’re in a store and need to return something, you can show them the receipt or email it to them if they require to print it out.
Basically, any documents that you need to keep but aren’t original documents (i.e. mortgage documents, loan papers) can be scanned to your computer and then recycled.
Be sure to shred any documents with personal details that could be used for identity theft!
Never put your mail down
What am I supposed to do, go to bed with it??
As soon as you pick your mail up from the mailbox, doorstep, wherever someone else left them for you, sort it there and then!
First throw all your junk mail in the recycling or shred it straight away.
Next, sort the remaining mail into three piles:
Bills: Make a note of when your bills are due so that they’re not forgotten about (more on this later on!).
Mail needing attention: If you don’t have time to deal with those that need attention right away (let’s be honest, you’re probably just home from work, right?), then make an area where they can be filed but not forgotten.
Filing: Anything else, file away as necessary.
If you have a lot of mail, this is a tedious process but well worth it as it will save plenty of time in the long run. Imagine having to do this process with 10 times the amount of mail? That’s what would happen if you didn’t sort your mail as it comes in.
Find an effective filing system
Finding a filing system that works for you is key to being able to organise your paperwork. If you don’t have a system that works for you, you won’t be able to find anything when needed and important things, such as bills, medical appointments, will be missed.
Here are some ideas for filing systems you can have at home:
Hanging file folders: This is an inexpensive option that doesn’t take up too much room on any desk or shelf but can hold plenty of different types of sheets together. You can use these in a home office for bills, other financial documents, important household documents, and you can organise by date if you need help remembering what needs to be dealt with and when.
Labelling folders: This is something that can make life easier with any type of file folder you choose to use, especially if they’re different colours because it will allow you to sort them by category and put each type of paperwork into the appropriate colour. For example, one could be for school, home or work; another could be taxes or health insurance, etc. You’ll want to label each drawer according to these labels so if there’s an emergency, you can find your information quickly without wasting any time trying to figure out what goes where. The best way is to choose a colour coding system before actually writing on the folders. Then, just label them with a coloured pen or label maker (who doesn’t love a label maker?!) and you’re good to go!
Index cards: These are great for when you have smaller bits of paperwork that don’t need as much protection or organization. You can put them in binders or even create your own home filing system by putting them into plastic sleeves so they stay together and aren’t ripped by accident.
Filing containers: If you’re not sure where to begin when planning how you want all of your files organised, investing in some containers is a great place to start. You could look for anything from inexpensive storage containers that you’re able to stack on top of each other to a full filing cabinet, or wall shelves if you have the room in your home. The most important part is being able to organise all these documents, papers and forms quickly and easily.
Racks: This option works well for long pieces of paper like maps, posters or artwork. You can either hang them up by using small nails into a corkboard or hooking them onto a wire rack so they don’t get bent up by accident when you’re trying hard not to touch them.
Binders: These are great for when there’s something you want to keep together as a group instead of using file folders because they are already bound. They’re very helpful for keeping things like school notes or project materials in one place.
Accordian files: Accordian files are perfect for those who don’t have much paperwork to file. It could be that you’re single and only have paperwork for one, or maybe you have a large family but you’ve managed to minimize your paperwork down to a small bundle (my hero!). These files take up very little storage room and can be easily accessed with a simple pull of the handle.
More and more people are leaning towards digital storage. Whether it’s CDs, DVDs, photographs or paperwork, it’s my absolute favourite storage method.
The only problem with storing things online to the cloud, is that nothing is ever 100% secure and there’s always a possibility of data loss if something happens while your documents are stored on there. If you’re looking into using this option, be sure to back up your files on an external hard drive at least once every month to ensure that your information will stay safe.
Digital storage: This is a great way to store paperwork because it keeps it in one place and you can easily access without wasting any time. Some people prefer to use this method for all of their files so they don’t have to worry about organising them manually or buying new storage materials.
Email: Instead of paper copies, email is another great way to keep track of everything by having it saved in your inbox. This is helpful especially if you work from home or around the world because it will show up right on your computer or phone and you can access it any time.
Digital scanner: If you are really good at organising paperwork, then this is probably the best solution for all of your files. Scanning documents, even if you’re required to keep the originals, is a great idea. If something gets damaged in a fire or a flood, not only would you still be able to access everything but it would also be a lot easier to recreate the items you lost.
Helpful tips for keeping track of what’s due when
First off, it is incredibly important to keep track of when bills are due and which ones have already been paid versus not yet paid. Paying bills late or paying for two things with one check can be avoided if you can keep track of all that paperwork.
On the other side, it is just as important to keep track of what paperwork you actually need and where -you don’t want to throw away something important because you have too much clutter!
Set up a system so that when paying you have everything done in one place so you don’t lose any documents and can be sure all payments are made correctly rather than having to worry about all the little pieces of paper floating around your kitchen table.
When you get your bills, keep them in one place separate from where you will throw away other papers like junk mail.
I also suggest making a sheet of paper or an excel sheet with all your due dates for each month. For example, if you know your gas bill is issued on the 1st of every month and has to be paid by 15th of every month, write this down, along with all your other bill dates, in one place.
This way you have everything organised, and don’t have to search through many stacks of paper or computer files every time you need to pay a bill; instead it is easy to quickly pay your bills without even thinking about it!
Papers are a part of life that we all know is difficult (and annoying) to deal with. Although the idea of making time for organising paperwork and documents might seem daunting, it can actually be really easy if you just take care of one task at a time.
We know that it’s necessary to store and organise this paperwork – and the best way to do so may be different for everyone.
This article has given you many creative options on how to store and organise your papers at home-whether they’re documents or reports coming through the mail each day!
Hopefully these ideas will help make organising your paperwork easier for you too; if not, feel free to reach out for more tips!
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