This post is based onÂ a reply I gave to Moni a few months ago, but I think we all get overwhelmed by paperwork so itÂ isÂ Â a subject worth revisiting.
The best way to handle paperwork is to have a system that means you touch that piece of paper a minimum number of times. Donâ€™t have a complicated system: keep it simple.
I open post straight away, standing by the recycled box in the kitchen. Empty envelopes and bumpf goes straight in it. The rest then gets taken upstairs to our study on the next trip. One of 3 things then happens:
1) Anything that doesnâ€™t need action gets dropped into its designated labelled filing box:
a)Income and tax related
b)Household maintenance & Household utilities and bills
c)Car related: taxing/repairs/ resident parking/insurance
Most paperwork comes in category a and b and these are just boxes I can drop things into really easily â€“ no need to get a file out and hole punch etc.
2) If it needs action I try and do it straight away. If I donâ€™t have time then or it doesnâ€™t need doing until a specific date, I make a note of it in my diary to do and then drop it into its relevant filing box. This includes any phone calls.
3) It gets shredded. We have an attractive basket for stuff that needs shredding: stuff gets chucked in to there until it reaches the top and then I have a mass shredding session every 2 months or so.
To cut down on paperwork I pay all regular bills by ddm and have gone paperless with banking statements and utility bills. When a new invoice arrives that replaces a previous one, the old one gets thrown out.
At the end of each financial year, once I have made my tax return, all related paperwork goes into a large envelope with the year written on it and it gets stored in the attic. In the UK we have to keep this info for 7 years, so when a new one goes in, an old one from 7 years previously can get chucked.
Some people store all Â paperwork on an online storage facility; I donâ€™t, but the option is there.
This system works for me and I feel in control and easy to stay that way.
What are your difficult paper work areas and how do you think you could improve them? Have you developed any systems that work well for you youâ€™d like to share?
Todayâ€™s Mini Mission
Â I should ~ Declutter something you think you should own just because most people do. If you arenâ€™t using it there is no reason why you should have it.