Organizing paper clutter can seem daunting but I’ll show you how to get organized, and stay organized with these few easy tricks.
Paper clutter is a hot topic this time of year because everyone is thinking about getting organized and tax season is right around the corner! Although I’ve written about how to organize paper clutter a few times, I still have friends asking me tips for how to manage their bills, taxes, important documents, etc. so I thought I’d revisit the topic again, this year.
I know the task to organize paper clutter seems like a daunting task, but I promise you, it’s not. Paper organization also doesn’t have to take you a long time, in fact, I’ve helped a few friends organize their paper piles, using the same organization system I use, and it hasn’t taken us long at all! So gather those stacks of papers on the kitchen counter, and lets get to work!
How to Organize Paper Clutter
Rules for how to organize, and maintain paper clutter:
- Never keep more paperwork than you need to! You have to hold onto your tax information for 7 years but that isn’t the same for your bills. Never keep more than a years worth of your bills because you don’t need them (if you ever need to go back and look at an old bill you can probably find it online) and they will lead to more paper clutter than you need. Toss what you don’t need!
- Organize bills by months, not by company. This will reduce the amount of folders you have and make it easy to go back and look things up, by date, if you ever need to.
- Use colorful file folders to differentiate between bills, tax documents, insurance info, personal files for individual family members, etc.
- I have an individual file for each member of our family. Each one contains their passports, birth certificate, social security cards, old papers that might have sentimental value, like schoolwork (for example I have some of my college papers and report cards, since things weren’t so digital back then), etc.
- Use a label maker to label the folders so everything is clearly marked and easy to find.
- Shredjunk mail that has any sort of account numbers on it. Don’t throw these away but don’t keep them, they are trash, a.k.a. clutter.
- Shred old bills, or recycle them if they don’t have account numbers on them.
- Opt out of junk mail all together. Visit optoutprescreen.com, “by opting out through the website or calling the number (1-888-5-OPTOUT) you will be removed from their pre-screening list at the main credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, Innovis, TransUnion). You will need to provide your Social Security Number and other personal information, but don’t worry, this site is legitimate. OptOutPrescreen.com is endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission. (source)
- Scan receipts to store them digitally so you don’t have piles of them in your office home. Purchasing something like a NeatReceipts mobile scanner can be priceless for reducing clutter. I have a NeatDesk scanner and I use it to scan and organize my receipts, which makes tax season way less stressful.
- Go through your file cabinet once every couple years and shred anything that’s no longer relevant. Put a reminder in your calendar so you don’t forget to do it! We accumulate more piles of paper than we could ever possibly need, and we hold onto things that we’ll never need again, so get out the shredder, turn on the Frozen soundtrack and “Let it go!”. If you don’t like shredding, or it’s too painful for you to “Let it go!” then hire your kids to do it. I keep a bag next to our shredder and when it gets full I pay my kids $5 to shred everything for me.
I have been using this filing system for years and it’s still working great!
For even more inspiration on organizing paper clutter, visit these posts:
- How to organize taxes and keep them organized for 7 years
- How to organize bills
- How to organize papers and reduce paper clutter
- How to prepare for next years taxes, this year
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