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Posts Tagged ‘organizing paperwork’

I am convinced that if I could organize my environment I’d be able to get the rest of my life in order too. I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions but every year I think I really need to get my sh!t together and get some of this stuff out of here. But I like my stuff. And I sell on eBay so I’m forever bringing in more stuff to sell. And not purging my own things I think I can sell. It’s overwhelming sometimes and I spend a lot of time being unproductive, looking for things, and just in general not knowing where to start.

I recently came across Jennifer Ford Berry’s book Organize Now! A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life. Hmmm, this seems more approachable than the typical organize yourself in 7 days with 7 easy steps kind of book. It has 56 weeks of organizing tips and checklists. It includes chapters on things like email, which I confess I’m like a year behind in and scared to even open at this point, and chapters I know I can skip like the garden shed and the garage, since I have neither. I realize taking it a week at a time I will run the risk of never truly being finished, as I complete week 10 but week 1 has already gone all to h@ll, but I went ahead and ordered it on Amazon today with the hope that I can at least try to develop a few more organized habits and techniques. Kind of like not going on a diet, but resolving to eat better most of the time. We’ll see.

While I’m waiting for it to arrive I’d like to share one organizing technique that I actually employ to pretty good use for the volumes of tax paperwork that I have. Since I’m a packrat I sell online I need to keep a lot of receipts and statements that most people would just toss. Previously I had a typical 2-drawer filing cabinet with folders for credit card statements, the electric bill etc. and after I paid my bills the rest of the statement would lay around the house for awhile, eventually end up in a bag waiting to be sorted out and filed, and then every once in awhile when the drawers were looking a little full I’d dig through the files and toss anything older than the requisite 7 years. Not a great system for me.

File Boxes

So, I went out and bought 8 of those cute little photo shoe boxes they sell at craft stores across America – one for each of the 7 years of back files and one for the current year. In the current year file I keep a small folder (a regular size folder I cut down to fit the box) with return address labels, my checkbook, coupon booklet for my HOA fees, envelopes, a pen, and stamps in it. When it is time to pay bills, I pull out the box, use the items in the folder for their intended purpose and then just dump all of the statements that need to be saved right in the box and put the folder in on top. I don’t triage or try to figure out what needs to be saved and what doesn’t – it all fits and the box takes up the same amount of space whether I’m saving unneccessary things or not so in it all goes. Sure they’re all mixed up and I might need to organize them a little come tax time, but even though I am still in the dark ages of writing checks, I do enter it all in my Palm Pilot and synch to the Money program on the computer so I can run the reports I need for business expenses and in general just keep my jumbled box of backup paperwork as it is.

At the beginning of each year I take the oldest box off the shelf, shred the contents, and relabel the box for the new year. So that is at least one system that is working for me. I will try to share more as I spend the next 56 weeks simplifying my life and my space. And trying not to crap it up again.

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