6 Tips on How to Organize Paperwork

How to organize paperwork is fast becoming a lost art as the younger generation become more used to working online rather than on paper!

When I was working we were always banging on about reducing paper clutter and the paperless office and we were consciously making an effort to strive for it. Our drive for this paperless utopia was part efficiency but also partly environmentally conscious - a reduction in paper used for printing can only be good for the world.

Certainly technology is making it easier nowdays but as we all probably find, paper still arrives and we need to learn how to organize it. That's why I've written this article on how to organize paperwork, it's to remind me and to give you 5 great tips on the lost art of reducing paper clutter.

Tip #1 - Handle Each Piece of Paper Once

Yes I know, I bang on about this but honestly it's so true. When you pick up that piece of paper - do something with it. File it, Action it or Bin it.

Tip #2 - Ditch When It Comes In

Picture this - you're opening the mail and reading the contents. Then what do you do? Well, of course as per tip 1 you do something with that mail but what about the packaging, the envelopes etc? If you want to, save the envelope (I write notes to my husband and kids on them) but ditch the rest.

You probably get tons of flyers and catalogues. If you love reading them then collect them together and read when you have a spare minute (sports practice for kids is a great chance) otherwise ditch them straight away. This is great for reducing paper clutter as long as you don't just put them down on a counter!

Tip #3 - Scan Important Stuff

You have a receipt for a purchase and you need to save that receipt for tax time. Scan it! I find that's by far the easiest way to ensure that you have your receipts and you don't spend hours looking for them when that time of year comes (not to mention how much you procrastinate with your tax return because it is just way to hard to have to find all the stuff). Of course, file the receipt too if you must but I scan and ditch.

Tip #4 - Hold the Mail

This is one of the best tips for how to organize paperwork - convert all the paper bills into electronic bills. Just like the tip to scan the receipts it means you have the bills stored on your computer (in appropriately named folders) should you need to pull them out.

Tip #5 - File File File

I'm a big fan of vintage filing cabinets although I haven't yet managed to buy one. Even the faux vintage filing cabinets that Ikea have I've salivated over - I always think "someday". Unfortunately while we're waiting for someday the paper still arrives and has to be dealt with. My philosophy has always been to do it now rather than do it prettily so if like me you just haven't gotten around to purchasing a beautiful filing cabinet just make do. Buy a desktop file or a concertina file anything that means you put the paperwork away.

Tip #6 - File Kids Schoolwork

My kids (especially my 6 year old) generates tons and tons of paper clutter. She's forever writing me wonderful stories and drawing me pictures of her favourite outings and events. I always feel so guilty when I'm decided what to do with it. She has worked hard to make me something with love so I feel terrible for just throwing it out but I can't keep everything!

I've struggled for a long time on how to organize paperwork which results from the kids and I've finally hit on this solution. Clearfiles! I have one for each child and I will have one for each year. If I think something is worth saving (art/stories/certificates) then I put it into the clearfiles. I still ditch alot of stuff when they are asleep but there are some particularly touching love notes and stories about their weekends and special family trips that I really want to keep for their 21st.

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Again, Yes, I know, short and sweet but that's the nature of my Gems - useful bits of information that you can take and try immediately. You do have to stick with it to develop these tips into a habit.

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