Greetings from Shorter Designs! How many of you have at least one area in your home where papers are out of control? I would venture to say each one of my clients has that one hot spot, whether it is daily mail or papers to be filed that never seems to quite go away. You may clean it off once in a while, but mysteriously it always reappears. I even have that in my house, and it’s mostly due to incoming mail. We have a good system that works; but even so, we almost always have some paper on our kitchen table. (I hope that makes you feel better!)
With that said, for some people it will take a major overhaul to see your table again, and for others it will just take just a few minutes to get to the bottom of any pile. For everyone, though, regular maintenance is a must. Here are a few guidelines I compiled that are the main issues for most of my clients. Hopefully you will find these helpful next time you sort through papers:
- You only need to keep pay check stubs for one calendar year. When tax time rolls around, look at the tax papers from your employer. If something does not look right, you can refer back to your filed check stubs. Once your taxes are finished, it’s okay to shred the previous year’s stubs.
- Throw junk mail away immediately. And be honest with yourself…if you know you won’t use that fabulous coupon, toss it right away too.
- Have mail slots for each family member old enough to receive mail. And have one slot for bills to be paid. Once a week sit down and pay bills at the same time. (The absolute easiest solution is to sign up for direct draft with each company you pay bills to monthly. It saves stamps, time, and you never have a late fee.)
- Be brutal with papers you get from committees, meetings, work, kids’ school, etc. Post the emergency items on a board with a date that is 2 weeks or less away (like invitations for a birthday party), file papers you will need later or just for reference material, and put other papers you will not look at again in the trash. If there is an important date, write it immediately on the calendar, and if you don’t need the paper, trash it. If it’s work related, can you keep it at work instead of at home?
- For special memento papers you would like to keep (like a hand written encouragement card from a friend), have a file or shoebox size container to put these items in.
- Files are a necessity to set up if you don’t have any yet. And if you do, here are some good major folders you want to be sure to incorporate in your file system.
- Bill Receipts
- Credit Cards
- Insurance (Health, Life)
- School and/or Work
- Warranties and User Manuals
I hope you find these tips helpful. Remember to call me for an appointment for more specific help!