Paperwork! Are you a “piler” or a “filer”? You can be both.

Are you getting ready for taxes and feeling not so excited about going through your paperwork? Do you have piles of paperwork around the house that are your reminders of what you need to do or make a decision about? Paperwork might not take up a lot of physical space, but the mental work to process it can seem daunting and be time consuming. Paperwork is tricky because there is usually some decision that must be made or action to be taken. Here are 5 tips to make dealing with paperwork easier and less stressful.

Tip 1 – Set-up a place to dump your mail or incoming paperwork each day. Set-up a location or pile for each person living in your home. When you have time or the pile gets too high, sort into three categories:

1.     recycle/shred

2.     take action

3.     file

Tip 2 – Sort your paperwork near your filing system with a recycle box and shredder nearby. Don’t make another pile of paperwork to file. Do your sorting near your filing system so you can file as you go. Getting ready for taxes? Keep a file called “This Year’s Tax Docs” so you have a place to put the paperwork when it arrives and a place to keep donation receipts throughout the year.

Tip 3 – Ask yourself…can I access this information somewhere else? If you can access a bill online or find the information on the internet, toss the paper copy. Keep only what you can’t easily access somewhere electronically.

Tip 4 – Do you have a pile of paperwork that you need to do something with – or take some sort of action on? Use a sticky note to write the next action to take or the decision that needs to be made. Is there a deadline for taking action, like a bill to pay? Write the date on the sticky note too so you can see at a glance what you need to do and by when you need to do it.

Tip 5 – Is there someone else that’s responsible for taking care of certain items or do you need someone’s help to decide what to do, like your spouse or an older kiddo? Keep these things separate (don’t intermingle them with the things you can do on your own). Set aside time to discuss and make decisions together.

Extra Tip – Contain and Label! Contain your piles into boxes, bins or letter trays. This will allow you to easily transport your piles if you want to process them somewhere else and keeps them from intermingling with each other. Label each container so you remember what it’s for. Consider writing your labels as actions. For your incoming pile of paperwork, label it “Open me!” or “Make a Decision About Me!”

Want help setting up a system to manage your paperwork? Contact me and we’ll do it together. It will be easier and less painful than you think!