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How to Organize Your Paperwork: 8 Easy Tips

If you’re the kind of person who would have trouble locating the top of your desk with a shovel and a GPS unit, or if your idea of “organizing” documents is by simply creating 25 distinct piles or sweeping them into already-crowded drawers, then you probably would like to know how to organize paperwork and reduce the clutter.

Using a simple, category-based system can be helpful because it’s easy to remember and find things, and it grows naturally with your business or home needs. Even better, if you get it right the first time, you’ll never have to re-do your filing system again!

Here are some easy tips to show you how to organize paperwork in your home or office:

1.) Keep it simple. It stands to reason: if you choose a complicated system, it makes getting and staying organized harder, especially as more papers and files get added.

2.) Avoid color-coding. Using colors can be a great way to organize. But if you run out of a particular color when you need a new category, you’ll waste time running out for new supplies, or you’ll wind up trying to invent something new using existing colors. This is a recipe for confusion and takes up valuable time.

3.) Designate. Pick one specific area in your home or organize papers, even it it’s just a single drawer.

4.) Tend to the strays. Put all documents and files that do not clearly fit into any designated categories under “Miscellaneous.” Regularly take time to check this file, before it fills up, and see if you can create a new category.

5.) Set time aside for organizing. It can be a challenge sometimes to know exactly when or how to organize paperwork, but it helps if you set aside time each day or week for this specific task. If you don’t have time to tend to papers as they arrive, it’s okay to put them in a “To File” category, but be careful not to let these papers pile up for too long.

6.) If you have kids—you know the amount of paperwork can be dizzying. Keep a special clipboard or bulletin board in a prominent place. Put any important permits, admission slips, reminders, forms and school documents related to your children there.

7.) Don’t fear the recycle bin. Sort and pare down both your work and home office filing system regularly. Look for expired items and toss what you don’t need.

8.) Keep the right accessories handy. Have your paper shredder and recycling bin near the place where you open your mail. That way, whatever you know you don’t need can immediately be disposed of without accumulating in stacks. (For a detailed list of what to keep and what to shred, click here.)

Many people spend hours a week picking through piles of random documents, frustrated by the clutter and wondering how to organize paperwork. With these easy steps, you can save your GPS unit for your car and be on your way to a clear desk!

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About the Author

Heidi DeCoux, Clear Simple Living, LLC
Minneapolis, MN 55419

If you would like to re-print this article, please contact the author.
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