On one of our recent systemize your business calls, we discussed how to organize paperwork in your home. This is the way I do it, and writing it down got me excited to get caught up!
Steps to Getting Your Paperwork Organized:
- Draw a paperwork flow system similar to the one above.
- Identify the basic categories you will use when you sort. Mine are: Recycle, Shred, File, Act, Decide
- Choose a time to sort your paperwork – weekly is ideal. When you sort, that is all you do. You simply put things in the trash or recycle bin, in the shredding box, in your “to be filed” box, in your “action folder”, or in your “decision folder”. I actually have one folder that includes both my actions and my decisions. It’s perfectly fine to do more if you have the energy, but if you struggle with procrastination or energy drain when it comes to keeping up on your paperwork, it’s best to have sorting as a separate activity that gets done in 10 to 15 minutes at a dedicated time each week.
- Decide how often you want to shred. One person on our call said she shreds everything immediately when she sorts, while I will throw things in my shred box and spend an hour one Sunday each month to shred. It was pointed out that if you wait too long it can become an overwhelming project, not to mention the fact that the shredder will overheat. One option is to take all your shredding to a community shredding event if it has gotten overwhelming. If paperwork is draining for you, it’s often good to just work your shredding into a weekly cleaning routine so it never takes more than 5 minutes.
- Pick one day a week to go through your action folder. My time slot is Monday mornings. Since it’s a weekly time slot I usually only have two or three issues to handle and once I get them out of the way and my action folder is empty I feel a huge sense of accomplishment.
- Pick one day per week to file, again as part of a routine. I have to admit I don’t do this yet. I do it in theory and always blow it off. I might sit down and catch up on my filing once per quarter. But as long as I have a big enough “to be filed” box, that procrastination doesn’t harm me much. When I look for things I have to spend a bit of extra time going through the box, but at least I haven’t lost anything.
But as I write this, I remember how wonderful it feels to be all caught up, and I’m inspired to get caught up this weekend! I am also re-committing to setting aside a time each week to do my filing. I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t do it, but I’m going to hold onto how wonderful I feel when everything is in its place.
If this process excites you as well – I’d love to hear your stories and I’d love to have you share your organizing systems and tips…