Well, congratulations to me: now into my 12th year with Sensible Organizing Strategies! I've loved every bit of it, including what my BFF calls the 'administrivia'. THAT means all the minutia and paperwork involved in not just running a business but handling our every-day obligations to family and friends. So, please let me share ....
My 92-year-old mother is in Assisted Living in western Washington, where my brother, sister and their families handle all Mum's local needs. Being six hours away from that traffic (on a good day!), I handle all the paperwork, phone calling and such. There isn't a day when I go to the Post Office to retrieve our mail that I don't have at least 2-3 pieces of paper for our mother. This, after having as much electronic as I possibly can!
So, as paper goes, the file where I keep all her documentation was exploding at the seams. Oh, you can relate?! Of course! What do we do when that happens? You who have been listening all these years know ... you must purge and shred or recycle, right?
1. But where to start? Right again, you know: doesn't matter - just pick something and get going on your project! Yesterday I did just that: after deciding that all the categories were still necessary and pertinent, I went through that traveling file-box and pulled out everything from 2015 - 2018.
2. You must keep macro-divisions, not tiny sections for single sheets of paper. You'll never get a handle on things of you do that! This project for my mum's paperwork was so fun (!), that, in needing room to file what I had removed but was keeping, I went through my mother-in-law's retained documents, too, which were all handled by my darling Jim. He wouldn't listen to 'the pro,' so I found numerous file dividers with only one piece of paper in them! Really?? No!
3. Take a look at what you truly need to keep for future reference and plan to shred or recycle the rest. Remember, too: "What's the worst that would happen if I got rid of this piece of paper?" Generally - nada! You can call the vendor, the bank, the doctor, get any recorded document, even the IRS! It may cost a bit IF that EVER comes up, but it generally won't.
4. Guess how many paperclips, binder clips and file folders I now have to use elsewhere? Bonus! That note to 'buy more paperclips' is now in the garbage!
5. This is also a great time to re-assess the entire process: have I 'macro'd' too much? Are there folders that I haven't used in years (get rid of them!)? Is the entire system working well? If not, what little thing needs to change? In working with folks and their paperwork over the years, I've found that the tiniest thing, like which side labels are on, their color, staggered or not, might be the entire issue as to why a file system is not working. Again, what IS the reason for filing? Future retrieval, NOT storage, so your plan needs to work for YOU!
6. A side note on shredding: I personally believe that one of the biggest hold-ups for folks in cleaning up their paper is the personal shredder. It only works for 6-8 pages at a time so you just 'save it up to do on commercials' and that never happens! I have discovered that my time is SO much more valuable than that, so I bundle all my shredding up and take it to my nearest office supply store or such and for about $1 a pound? GONE, and safely! That's where all this 'mother' shredding is going tomorrow.
7. So, done and done! However, as is the norm in any organizing project, one thing spawns another, right? In putting away both our mother's extraneous paperwork files, I noted that our warranty files in the garage (where I keep ALL this sort of thing that doesn't need to take up valuable real estate in the house) were getting full, so cleaned those up, removing info from items we no longer have or whose warranties have expired, etc. Yahoo!
What an awesome feeling to have everything put away, in a logical manner, and have room to put current documents safely and properly away, where they belong, for safekeeping and confidentiality! Ahhhh..... This process is handled similarly for all things that come to you electronically, but let's tackle that next month, OK?
Now, haven't I earned a reward for all this? Of course! So, lunch and then a Netflix movie, to wile away the afternoon, enjoying the beautiful scenery in our yard, robins and snow everywhere!
Here's to you and your tax-season and year-end filing clean-up project - I KNOW you can do it!
Providing Peace and Harmony for your Home or Office. Tips on getting organized and staying organized. Cleaning up the clutter in your home or office.