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The Best Way to Organize Your Paperwork

If you’re someone who can’t see your desk beneath huge mountains of papers and files, and if your idea of organizing paperwork is by stacking them on top of your table or stuffing them inside drawers, then you probably want to know how to organize paperwork and cut the clutter. Organizing paperwork using a simple category based system that grows with your needs can help you find things. If you get it right the first time, you’ll never have to re-do your filing system again.

Here are some ways to organize paperwork in your office and home:

* Keep it simple. If you organize paperwork in a complicated system, you may not be able to keep up with the influx of documents, let alone a growing business or household, and you would still end up with clutter.

* Avoid color-coding. This is a great, intuitive way of organizing paperwork. But if you run out of a particular color and need to start a new category, you’ll waste time by going out for supplies, or by trying to accommodate the new category with existing colors.

* Designate a particular area in your home to organize paperwork, even if it is only a drawer.

* Put all documents and files that do not fit into any of the categories in a “Miscellaneous” file. From time to time, organize paperwork in this folder before it fills up and check if you can come up with a new category.

* If you do not have time to organize paperwork each time documents arrive, put them under a category called “To File” but don’t accumulate such papers for too long. Organize paperwork regularly.

* In a house with children, it can be challenging to organize paperwork. You can keep a special clipboard or bulletin board in a prominent place where you can put all important permits, admission slips, forms, and school documents and other papers related to your children.

* Go over your filing system regularly and organize paperwork by taking out those papers that you no longer need. This could include last year’s bills, warranties on items that are no longer valid, and other unnecessary papers.

* Keep a paper shredder and recycling bin near your table where you usually open your mail. When unwanted, unnecessary mail comes in, do not hesitate to shred it, or toss it in the recycling bin. For a detailed list of what you need to keep and what to shred, check out the "About the Author" section at the end of this article.

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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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