For some people, organizing paperwork seems to be a natural skill. Other people, however, could use some help. If your desk or your kitchen table is overflowing with papers and documents of all types, these 10 tips for organizing paperwork will help you be more organized.
1. Go paperless as much as possible
A simple way to solve the problem of having too much paperwork lying around is to go paperless as much as possible. Going paperless with your utility bills, for example, will help reduce your paper clutter.
You might not be able to get rid of all your paper bills, but take a moment to see which ones you could consult online instead of receiving the paper version in the mail.
2. Don’t print out a document unless you really need to
Once again, producing less paperwork makes it incredibly easier to organize the paper documents you really need. Remember this rule for organizing paperwork, and don’t print out a document unless it’s absolutely necessary to do so.
Doing so will reduce your paper clutter, and save a few trees in the process, which is always a good thing.
3. Get rid of paperwork you don’t need anymore
But what about those useless paper documents you already have? Well, get rid of them. If they contain even just a bit of sensitive information, shred them before recycling them.
If you are keeping a lot of paperwork just because you’re not quite sure if you still need it or not, just make an online search to find information about which important papers you need to keep, and for how long. You should be organizing paperwork that you will actually be using, not unneccessary documents of no use to you.
4. Sort your mail in different baskets
We receive a lot of mail each week, and piling it up on a table or on a countertop is the best way to forget to pay a bill, or to miss some important information.
Instead of doing this, sort your mail in different baskets: one for bills to pay, one for mail you want to read, and one for mail you want to file away. Get rid of junk mail instead of leaving it somewhere in your house.
5. Buy a good filing cabinet for organizing paperwork
To file your mail and important documents, you need a filing cabinet for organizing paperwork. If you don’t already have one, invest in a quality filing cabinet that won’t collapse as the paperwork you file in it gets heavier and heavier.
If you have no room for a filing cabinet, get a few banker boxes in which you can store and organize your files.
6. Set up a great filing system
Even the best filing cabinet in the world will not solve your paperwork clutter problem if you don’t have an efficient filing system. Set up a simple filing system that will allow you to quickly find any paper you are looking for.
A colour coded filing system, where you use either files or tabs of different colours to organize your paper documents, can really make your life easier.
7. Make a habit of filing your documents
An amazing filing system will not do much for you if you never take a minute to file the new paperwork that appears in your environment. To become an expert at organizing your documents, you need to make it a habit.
Take at least a few minutes each week to add new paperwork to your filing cabinet. You will thank yourself for it later.
8. Don’t create folder titles that are too specific
For organizing paperwork, you don’t want to have to search through a hundred files each time you want to add a paper document to your filing cabinet, or retrieve one.
To make sure that you never have such a problem, don’t add too many files to your cabinet, and don’t rely on folder titles that are too specific. Divide your paperwork into just a few different categories.
9. Keep your most important papers together
Whether you decide to organize paperwork in a big filing cabinet, or in a banker box, be sure to keep your most important papers together in a place where they can be safe, and easy to get whenever you need them.
This includes your birth certificate, your marriage certificate, your insurance policies, your bank account numbers, your car information, your passport, and your will, among other things.
10. Use digital forms at work
If you are still using paper documents at work, why not see if you could go paperless? Using mobile forms instead of paper forms to perform audits or asset management is a great way to reduce paper clutter.
Going paperless in the office and storing important information in the cloud can also help increase your productivity and efficiency. The process requires some time and adjustment, but it should be well worth your efforts.