I have been reading way too much of Marie Kondo lately! But in her first book, The Magic of Tidying Up, she says you should get rid of all your paperwork. Her reason is that if you know you don’t have it, you won’t spend much time looking for it!
Well, that’s one way to deal with it, however, I disagree with that notion!
There are a lot of important papers we need to keep and be able to access, so while I agree with the idea that we need to spend far less time looking for the papers we need, I think there’s another way to deal with the papers we amass.
We are all guilty of keeping papers we don’t need because we don’t know what to do with it. We suggest our clients use a three-step filing system:
Step One: Manage the Flow of Temporary Paperwork
Create a system to help you manage your temporary files. What are temporary files? Things like monthly statements, school paperwork, receipts, and all of the things that have no long-term value in your home or office. The hint here is the word temporary; as soon as you no longer need it (payment clears, you don’t have to return anything from the receipt, etc.), shred it!
Step Two: Manage the Storage of Your Permanent Paperwork
Create a filing system to help you manage your permanent paperwork. This is for things like your home – mortgage documents, homeowner insurance policy, and title; your car – title, loan documents, etc.; your children and pets – shot records, medical records, and more. Even permanent paperwork will occasionally need to be purged or archived, but if it’s where you know how to access it, it will be easier to manage.
Step Three: Manage Your Tax-Related Paperwork
Create a filing system to help you manage your taxable paperwork – a “just in case you get audited” filing system. This is where you’ll keep receipts for business expenses, invoices, bank statements related to your business, and more.
If you know what to do with your papers, you will be less likely to have it pile up around your office or feel the need to be reckless and throw it all away. Much of your permanent paperwork and tax-related paperwork can be digitized and stored electronically – but for some people, electronic organizing can be just as challenging.