Archive for the ‘stacks’ Category

Paper File Maintenance

February 24, 2016

Close Up Of Folder For Household Bills

Over the last several weeks I’ve been talking about paper. We set up action files, files for your file cabinet, and archival files. There should be no more wondering what to do with the paper as it arrives in your home. I hope you’re not thinking that once your files are organized you’re done because you’re not.

A filing system only works if the system is used, updated periodically, and maintained.

You know that when you print a bank statement or an investment statement you look it over, check it to make sure it’s accurate, and then file it. At the end of the year, you can shred everything but the year-end statement. What a relief! No more hanging on to piles and piles of statements.

You also know that you have insurance files which hold the policy statement and the updated information. When the new information arrives remove last years’ update and replace it with the new document. This also serves to reduce the bulk of paper in the insurance file folder.

Your filing system must work for you. A filing system that works enables you to find the documents you need when you want them. No time lost hunting through the files or digging through piles of paper looking for a document.

This is the reason for taking time to label the files and folders in such a way that will spark you to remember that that is where the paper belongs.

This is also why I advocate looking through your files several times a year. Check them to make sure the files are current. If they are not either update them (if that’s what is needed) or remove them (if they are no longer pertinent).

Life is not static and neither are your files. As your life changes and things are added and subtracted your files should reflect these changes.

When you are doing your paperwork set aside some time to maintain your files. Just like any other part of your home if you attend to the files regularly they will stay up to date and organized.

 

Action Files

February 10, 2016

Last week I started a series talking about the paper. Even though it’s possible to receive notices and statements via email paper is still a problem. Many of my clients complain about paper. Organizing paper, finding the documents they need quickly and efficiently, and eliminating paper piles are on the top of the ‘to-do’ list. While this is a problem for many it comes front and center around this time of the year when taxes are looming on the horizon.

I suggested, last week, that you gather the paper from around the house and bring it to a central location. I also recommended that you set up a card table or clear a surface so that this week we could work on sorting this paper into categories to file, recycle, or shred.

Speaking of shredding, I recommend you have a cross-cut shredder. If you don’t have one or don’t want to get one then take the papers you want to shred to a place that will shred them for you. Office Depot, Office Max, and some Mail Box shops offer shredding by the pound. Put the papers you want to shred into a box or a bag. When the bag is full take it to be shredded. Another option is to look in your newspaper for Free Shredding. Organizations will take turns sponsoring a mobile shred truck in a parking lot from time to time.

Remember to look at every sheet of paper. Sometimes things get stuck in between the sheets. One time a client of mine found her social security card stuck in between some pages that were stapled together.

Now, let’s start by creating action files.

Action files are just what the name indicates – full of papers which require you to take action. I recommend you use a table top file holder for these files. Schedule a time to check these files every few days. This is not a place to store papers long term. Rather a holding spot for papers for which there is an action.

Here are some basic steps to follow:

  1. Warning… this can get tedious and boring. When we’re bored we tend to make mistakes or want to just grab a handful of papers and think “I know what’s in this stack so I’m going to just shred them without checking” That’s when critical papers get misfiled, lost or destroyed.
  2. So, SET A TIMER for some time between 20 and 30 minutes. When the timer rings either take a break and come back in a little while or schedule another work time for tomorrow.
  3. Look at each piece of paper and decide what your next ACTION will be.
  4. Your action may be to Recycle – you know if you’re not going to look at a catalogue or a magazine or an advertisement so recycle these items right away.
  5. Your action may be to Shred if so put those pieces of mail into a shred box or bag
  6. Other typical actions are: READ, FILE, PAY, SCHEDULE
  7. What do you label it when you don’t know what your next step should be? Put it aside for another time – I call that MARINATING or PENDING. The next time you look at these papers you may have figured out what action to take.
  8. You may also want a file for CONTACTS. You could put contacts to input into your data base here. You may also put your children’s class list or other contacts you’d like to have at your fingertips.
  9. If you sort the mail into these action files as it comes into your house you will not have an accumulation of paper piles!

Before you go out and buy a table top file organizer figure out how many files you want to have at your fingertips.

You can find file holders at Target, Office Depot, Staples and The Container Store.

Good luck sorting your papers into these action files. Next week I’ll review what to do with the remainder of your papers!

Paper Piles

February 3, 2016

paper pile

Are you buried in paper piles? Do you know what’s in the stacks?

Perhaps you like to see the stack of papers as a reminder of something to take care of? Maybe it’s a group – a category – of papers that you want to have easy access to? Is there anything important or vital lurking in those piles? Could your missing passport, marriage license, social security card be hidden amongst these papers?

Do you lose track of what’s there? Maybe some things slip your mind or bills are left unpaid because they remain hidden in a pile? Does that ever happen to you?

I often hear from clients that they have a hard time knowing what to do with certain financial and legal documents. Which ones do they have to keep? How long should they keep them? Where should they keep them?

Other questions revolve around household receipts, user manuals, and medical receipts.

Since tax season will soon be upon us it’s time to start getting these papers organized so that you can easily get those taxes done and so that going forward you’ll know where to find your important documents, your bills, and your project notes or any other category of papers you may have!

This month I’ll be giving you some strategies and solutions to get on top of this paper work. I’ll tell you about some different ways to file your papers so that you can find what you need when you want it. No more wondering where on earth you put … and spending lots of time hunting through the stacks!

Let’s start by bringing all the paper piles from around your home into one central location. Decide where you want to work on these piles and bring all the piles to that place. If you have a large table or even a card table that you can put up as a sorting spot that would be terrific! This way you can be sure that you are dealing with all the paper. Now, don’t get the idea that you have to tackle all of this at once. We’re going to break it down into small manageable tasks so that you can really take control of the paper as it comes into your home. I’ll also be giving you some tips on how to maintain this sense of order.

Label the piles that you bring to your sorting place. You might label them by the location from which you removed them. For instance if the pile came from the kitchen label it ‘kitchen’. That might trigger you to remember what’s in the stack.

You will want to gather some supplies to this sorting spot. You may need some paper clips, post-it notes, a marking pen, manila file folders (these can be either colorful or plain), hanging files (these can be plain or colorful also), and a notebook binder or two. As time goes along you may decide you want other supplies but let’s start with these.

Knowing where to put papers you want to keep so that you can find them at a moment’s notice will give you a wonderful sense of accomplishment and peace of mind!

Whatever Works

July 31, 2012

The other day I had a wonderful conversation with my younger son, Andy. He said,  ‘Mom, you’re going to be so proud of me! Wait ’til I tell you what I’ve done.” I was trying to imagine as he said that what was coming next. Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted what he told me. Andy went on to say “I just bought an accordion file. I’m filing all my receipts and important papers. It’s really working well for me.” He was right! I am proud of him. As the conversation progressed I learned that he was tired of having to hunt through stacks of paper to find what he was looking for. He was also tired of looking at the stacks of paper. Awhile ago, I had suggested that he find a filing system that works for him. I wanted him to be able to find important documents without wasting time hunting through piles of paper. In fact, I believe I had sent him some pictures of different methods to control paper chaos. As a mom of a young adult living on his own I can only make so many suggestions before they become an annoyance rather than a help. I was very pleasantly surprised that Andy had taken the initiative and found a system that works for him and that he was willing to use.

That is a key component to being organized. Figure out what will work for you and then commit to using the system. It does no good to sit back and figure out what works unless you are willing to put in the time to implement the system. Clearly, Andy was motivated. I asked why he was using an accordion file instead of a two drawer filing cabinet. He responded that the accordion worked for him because he doesn’t have a dedicated work space yet. He told me he puts the accordion file on a shelf in his coat closet. He loves that he knows where the papers are currently and where to put more as they come into his house. I pointed out that this system will accomodate only so much paper. He told me he was aware of that and that he plans to cull the individual sections a couple of times a year. I think he has it all figured out and that this system will work for him!

September 7, 2011

Do you talk to yourself? I do. I talk to myself – inside my head – as I walk my dog, Miles, in the morning. I review my schedule for the day. I also review what I am hoping to accomplish in addition to the schedule events. I hope that those of you reading this are nodding your heads in agreement. You might have a different conversation with yourself but I think we all have conversations inside our minds from time to time. When you talk to yourself do you ever bend the truth? Sometimes I think people don’t tell themselves the truth. When you look inside your closet have you ever said ‘I have NOTHING to wear’? I have definately done that! What I really mean is that there is nothing in my closet that I want to wear to …(you can fill in the blank) Maybe you rationalize keeping – let’s say 10 black skirts – because they are of different materials or different lengths or different sizes or maybe because you may need that particular style skirt ‘someday’? Tell me, does ‘someday’ ever come?

Maybe you tell yourself that you HAVE to keep that stack of papers because there might be an article somewhere in that stack that you haven’t read that might have useful information. You don’t have time to sort through the paper so you just keep adding to the stack telling yourself that you should do this ‘someday’. It will take time because there could be an address to enter in the address book. There could even be a refund check lurking somewhere in that pile. No joke! I have found checks sorting papers for some of my clients. While it’s true that money can sometimes be hding in a stack of paper very often the information in the pile of paper is not important. Sometimes, it is filing waiting to be done or it is a stack needing to be recycled. As for the ten black skirts – one in the correct size is generally sufficient.

Is there somthing you are telling yourself which is perhaps giving yourself permission to do something or keep something that you may want to rethink? I’d be interested to know!