A Lesson in Keeping it Simple – From a Boston Professional Organizer

organizing paperwork

Around this time of year we all start mentally stressing out with all that needs to be done. Halloween is around the corner. I’m hosting Thanksgiving…with my crazy in-laws. And then the holidays. What? The holiday? They’re already here? SIGH.

Yes, we all become a bit busier come October, but it’s important that we take a deep breath, do a couple quick yoga poses, and remember that it’s important to keep it simple amid these chaotic times.

One of the areas where this is especially true is with paperwork, which I find there is a lot more of as we approach the end of the year (and the start of the year when we start thinking about our taxes!). Here are a few easy tips to consider when looking to K.I.S.S. with paperwork. That being said, please check with your financial advisor, accountant, and/or lawyer to best determine how long you need to save your paperwork.

  1. Discard only necessary paperwork – Many times we keep around bank statements, old insurance policies, credit card statements, and investment statements when there is really no need. Once you’ve reconciled these expenses, it’s best to rid yourself and your desk of the paperwork.
  2. Keep tax records – You should keep your tax records for seven years, so be sure to keep a specific folder for these so you can easily find them in one place.
  3. File, file, file – When keeping documentation for taxes, create 4 separate file folders to represent each quarter in a calendar year. That way if you need to find a piece of paperwork, you can easily find it in the appropriate quarter.
  4. Don’t let it pile up – This is simple, but remember the motto, “File, not pile!”
  5. Go digital – These days, everything has a paperless version. Simply sign up for paperless bills or statements, or opt to pay bills online, to cut down on unnecessary paper clutter.
  6. Create an “In, Out, Read” File System – We all have so much incoming mail, outgoing bills, and other stuff that needs our attention. Instead of leaving it in a stack on the counter, clearly organize with easy call to action labels. That way you have a constant reminder what you need to sort through!

Consumer Reports recently did a deep dive into this very topic, and I encourage you to take a peek. Hey, a little less paperwork on our desks couldn’t hurt!

Photo: Peltier Interiors

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