The best advice I can give you is to avoid too much paper piling up, which will make you more reluctant to deal with sorting and filing your paperwork.
This week I am focusing on all paper related items such as promotional flyers, letters, manuals, receipts, clippings, personal documents, etc. I will cover all Financial Documents such as bank statements, invoices and contracts, next week.
My step by step guideline for sorting and filing your papers and documents
- Collect all your papers and existing files and place them on an empty table.
- Sort items into categories such as unopened letters, clippings, manuals, personal documents, etc.
- Open and empty all envelopes and discard any unimportant information. Try to do this immediately when receiving new mail.
- Check each paper carefully.
- Only keep papers, which have a clear purpose and add value. Discard the rest.
- Also go through all your existing files and discard old and unimportant papers. You might be able to discard entire files, which you don’t need anymore.
- Keep all your financial papers and files for part 2 – next week.
- The papers that you keep can be divided into 2 categories: Papers you need to action and papers you need to file.
- Place papers you need to action in an in-tray or in a magazine holder, with a short note, stating what you need to do e.g. phone company. Complete your in-tray on a weekly basis.
- Use another tray for filing new documents, such as contracts, warranties and statements you need to keep long term. Try to do your filing on a monthly basis.
- I prefer using plastic sleeves for filing, which I label with the name of the organisations and the type of service they offer. You can also use cardboard folders.
- Place the A4 sleeves or folders in a filing system organiser or expandable case, which you can place inside a cupboard.
- Keep all warranties with the purchase receipt in a folder labelled “Warranties“. Each time you need to go through it, you can discard old warranties.
- Keep clippings for travel locations in a labelled sleeve folder. Do the same with other clippings.
- Clippings of cooking recipes should be placed in a plastic folder with sleeve pages, so you can easily page through the recipes. Ideally keep it in the kitchen with your recipe books.
- Keep all your personal documents like wedding certificates, birth certificates and qualifications in a personal folder with sleeve pages. Make copies of the most important papers and keep them behind the original version.
- You can hang invitations and tickets on a notice board or on the side of your fridge. Discard these when an event is over.
- If you have lots of paperwork for a specific company, then file the papers in an expandable folder or upright in a magazine holder.
- I personally don’t like filing papers in A4 cardboard files, as they take up too much space and look dated. They also require more work, i.e. punching holes.
- These days there is no need to keep manuals for equipment and appliances, because you can look them up online or contact the manufacturer. I keep the most essential manuals in a labelled storage box.
- Recycle discarded paper and do your part to reduce the amount of paper wastage and ideally request your monthly statements in a digital format.
What paper you should discard:
- All promotional leaflets
- Old notes, invitations, information and manuals
- Old course materials, which most people tend to never review again. If you cannot do this, then keep the most important information and file it in a folder labelled “Courses & Training”.
- Clippings you haven’t referred to in the last year. You will most likely never do.
“When there is a will, there is a way.”
Follow my 52 Week Organise your Life Programme