paper organizing tips
Before you can organize all of your important documents, you have to find them first, especially your vital documents.
to create less paper moving forward
Go paperless with bank statements & household bills—this is a big help
Shred old utility bills you have filed. Utility companies can provide a history of usage for as long as they have provided service.
Recycle your stacks of magazines/newspapers/catalogues. Allow yourself to save a predetermined number of months of old magazines & recycle the rest. If you see that they are building up, get rid of them.
Instead of keeping a lot of reference information on hand, ask yourself whether the same information can be found online.
Devote one spot (just one!) to paper clutter. Go through your mail daily if possible—preferably over a trash bin. Discard what you can immediately. Take the important mail & create ONE place to keep it.
Chances are you can't eliminate all paper from your home, but you can limit its reach. "Create a dedicated drop zone, like a bowl or a tray."
Replace lots of pieces of paper with one big one. Every appointment, party, school event, or sports practice gets recorded on the calendar as soon as the paper comes through the door, and the invitation or flyer gets tossed.
Many people are over-subscribed to magazines and newspapers, resulting in a pileup. Try limiting yourself to what you can realistically read.
TRUTH: 80% of the papers we file we never use again.
Categorize your documents first
Home and property records: mortgage, property deeds, home improvement projects and receipts, appliance manuals/warranties, property tax information, home insurance policies, etc.
Auto records: titles, maintenance records, insurance policies/information, loan information and payment records, etc.
Health records: insurance policies, health insurance benefits manuals, explanation of medical benefits, doctor bills, prescription lists, medical receipts, life insurance policies, etc. SENIORS need a good system to organize their medical records at home.
Financial records: bank statements, tax returns, investment papers, loan records, credit card statements, etc.
Electronics records: cell phone contracts/manuals; sales receipts/warranties for computers, ipads/iphones; cable/internet plans and bills; wireless router receipts/manual, etc.
Personal records: birth certificates, marriage certificate, divorce papers, custody documents, social security information, passports, wills/trusts, funeral plan/burial site information, etc.
Wallet records: Do you know everything that's in your wallet? What would you do if your wallet were lost or stolen? Make copies of your credit/debit cards (copy front and back), driver's license, health insurance card(s), organ donor card, membership cards to grocery stores, loyalty cards, warehouse clubs, etc.
Create a simple filing system
The simpler the filing system, the more likely you are to use it on a regular basis.
Home and Property Records
Having a locked box with your very important documents isn't a bad idea.
Now that your important papers are organized, you have to maintain the system you created. At the minimum, once a year you should review the documents in your filing system to see if any of them can be discarded.
With a little effort, you can reap long-term benefits by organizing your important paper documents.