This is the question that everyone asks me to talk about
and help them with – the dreaded paperwork! I know if I
even say the word paperwork, people shudder and want to
run and hide. But I am here to say you do not need to be
afraid! The following information will help you with organizing
As many of you have heard me say
before, there are 3 CATEGORIES that
papers fall into: Action items –
File/Reference – Recycle. That is all!
Every piece of paper that comes into
your life falls into one of these 3
categories. To help you through this
process, here are the questions that
you need to ask yourself first.
What is this piece of paper?
What is the purpose of this piece of paper?
And most important, what is the
consequence if you do not have this
piece of paper?
THE FIRST DECISION: Is this piece of
paper an action item? For example,
do you have to pay the bill, make a
phone call or write an email to
complete this paperwork? Do you have
to write it on your calendar for an event coming up, or
the paper is for a special project that you are working on?
Once you know this is an action piece, then you need to
have a place, a tray, bin or basket, to sort it out to deal
with between today, this week or next month. You must
take care of this action item in the time allotted or the
paperwork will get out of hand. If you tend to neglect taking
care of the paperwork in a timely manner, you
need to ask yourself, do you really want to do this task or
can you file the paperwork or just recycle it?
NEXT DECISION is to file the piece of paper. Most people
file papers away as a reference and reminder that they did
something which is fine, but remember the filing rule:
80% of what we file away, we only need to retrieve 20% of
that information. When you file papers,
they should be in file folders that are
easily labeled. For example “Homeowners
Insurance 2019”, “Tax Donations 2019”,
Tom’s Medical Bills 2019”. If you are not sure
if you should file or recycle a piece of
paper, this is where the question comes
in – what is the consequence if you do
not have this piece of paper? For
example, do you need it for tax
purposes, does it relate to household
expenses and you need to refer back to
it? But if you do file things away, please take
time out to purge your files either
every year or every
couple of years and do a big purge!
And the LAST STEP OR DECISION you need
to ask yourself with paper: Can I just
recycle it? Try to do this process when you get your mail.
Go through and discard the selected junk mail right away,
which can be done most of the time. If you have papers
you want to shred, you can take them to an OfficeMax
store where they can shred your documents for a small fee depending on the amount of paperwork.
Or watch for free Shred-A-Thon events
at your local bank or community centers.
Once you put your papers in these 3 categories, you will
never have a problem deciphering their usefulness again!
Good luck and if you need any help with working through the 3 paperwork
categories, please let me know and I would be happy to help!