One of the biggest organizing challenges for most people, at least those who hire us, is with paperwork. After doing this kind of work for 10 years, it seems that the common denominator is that most people don’t know what to do with paper. They don’t know where or how to file it or how long to keep it. As a result, people keep paperwork much longer than they need to. Then, when they run out of space, the overflow winds up in piles, in bags or boxes.
The IRS has a paper retention guideline that you can use if you’re not sure whether you need a document or not. Here’s the link to their website: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/how-long-should-i-keep-records
The truth is, there’s only so many options when it comes to handling paper, “the right way”. A filing system doesn’t need to be complicated. It just needs to work for you. There is no right or wrong way.
So, here’s a few tips to keep your paperwork under control and, hopefully organized. Disclaimer: These are a few examples-not a comprehensive list.
- Anything you don’t want or need
- Solicitations, flyers, catalogues
- Documents that have your personal information (ie, an account number, birthdate, social security number, driver’s license number)
- Note: Your address does not count as that is available to the public
- All credit card offers
- Expired credit cards
- Old checks from closed accounts
- Anything that you need but don’t need access to currently
- Old tax returns
- Legal files that are closed/settled (ie, Divorce records)
- Documents that pertain to the purchase or sale of property
Please refer to the link above to determine how long these documents need to be kept
- If you’re attempting to go paperless make sure you have a system so that you can find these documents when you need them
- A good rule of thumb is to have your scanned documents filed on your computer the same way they are filed (labeled) in your physical file
5. SET UP ACTION FILES:
- To Do: Papers that you need to make a call about. It could be a bill you’re disputing
- To Pay: Bills that need to be paid
- To Read: Articles of interest
- Events: Tickets or invites
- Follow up: Items that you are waiting for. For example, you already made a call and spoke to someone about an issue with a bill and now you’re waiting for a response.
If you need some help, please give us a call. We will help you implement a system tailored to your specific needs.