Paperwork can be a daunting task. Here are 3 easy ways to organize papers coming into your home. Organizing your paperwork will help you from feeling overwhelmed with paper and will help to increase your productivity at home. Paperwork falls into 3 categories: "Recycle", "Take Action" and "File".
Create a "Mail Processing Center". This is a place where you will open, sort, recycle and file incoming mail. Process the mail everyday so you will not miss urgent notices. The mail should be kept in one place. Have a basket, bin, cubbyhole, slot, or other decorative object by the door to catch the mail as it comes into the house. Have a 2nd basket to recycle junk mail immediately. If there's room, have a separate mail bin for each member of your household with their names on them. It makes for distributing information easier. Have a file cabinet near by for your archived paper. Plan to review mail at a predetermined time in your weekly schedule.
2. "TAKE ACTION"
Create a "Hot Spot." This is a place for urgent, time-sensitive, and take action documents. When you are processing the mail, if you find something that requires action, put it in a "Take Action" folder. Some people are very visual so putting papers in a folder may not work. If that’s the case, put it in an upright holder on your desk where you will see it. You should place paper here that must be attended to within the next 24-48 hours: bills to pay, a client's file, papers to sign, a phone message to return, and so on. Clear out your hot spot daily. A hot spot is a great tool for dealing with the "out of sight, out of mind" problem.
Enhance your filing system. Every home needs a filing cabinet to store papers in. After you have processed the mail, everything else that you decide to keep should be categorized into files that make sense to you. In another post we will discuss how long you should keep archived papers. In the file cabinet, use straight tab filing, where all tabs are either left, right or center. Straight tab filing is easier on the eye and files can be added or deleted anytime without ruining a pattern. Use alphabetical order in each category. Use multi color hanging file folders for broad categories and plain tabs for subcategories. Use broad categories like financial, lifestyle and vital records. For instance, use green hanging file folders for financial files, blue for lifestyle files and yellow for vital records files. On the tab of the green hanging file folders, label them "401K", "Bank Statements", "Pay Stubs" and "Receipts". On the tab of the blue hanging file folders, label them "Menus", "Train Schedules", "Vacation Ideas" and "Wish List". On the tab of the yellow hanging file folders, label them "Medical Records - Malcolm", "Medical Records - Lamisha", "Insurance - Car", and "Insurance - Home".