Do you have paperwork that just keeps on piling up? It’s relentless, isn’t it? Every time you come home there are more bits of paper through your letterbox and hardly any of them are important but you daren’t throw them away. It’s a paperwork minefield.
I recently worked with somebody who just didn’t have time to sort things out; with a full-time job and a family to care for, when spare time was available – well, filing paper didn’t even register on their radar – then one day a bill didn’t get paid. We’ve all been there: late payment charges – you are so annoyed at yourself and vow it won’t happen again…until it does. Then there’s the time you spend looking for stuff, you know you put it on the pile but it’s gone, never to be seen again.
If you just don’t know where to start, here are some pointers to get you going:
If you hate filing or only have limited amounts of time, by following the steps above over a period of a week or so, you will have sorted through your paperwork and got it in some kind of order without too much hassle. Once it’s in order, just decide how you want to file it and put it away.
There are lots of different kinds of filing systems but the simplest system that works for you, is always the best one to adopt. A very basic system is to use large envelopes. Include relevant papers together; so you might put all your utility bills in one envelope (or separate if you have enough); write on the front of the envelope what’s inside and then place in a box or a cupboard or drawer – whatever you use. Next time you get an electric bill you know it goes straight into that envelope (once it’s been paid of course – don’t forget that bit!).
Another sticking point is that we often don’t know how long to keep paperwork for. I would say, for utility bills you only need to keep the current bill. For anything to do with accounts (banks, tax office, wage slips, P60s) then six years is the norm. However, if you bank online, opt for paperless accounts and your bank statements will be stored until you need to download them. This saves paper, saves filing time and saves physical storage.
Some people prefer to scan all paperwork and store on their PCs and then shred the originals. I’m not overly fussed on this method, for me, if I have to scan something I may as well just file it and have a clean out of the file as I go along. Don’t forget, we still need to clear out electronic files, that space isn’t infinite.
Alternatively, if the thought of doing this has you banging your head against a wall, why not gather all your paperwork up and contact me; I will collect, sort, file, shred and return.
firstname.lastname@example.org Happy to help.