So you’ve decluttered the kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, and living room. Now what? One important area that you might have neglected is paperwork organization. This is a commonly overlooked activity that is sure to bring you peace of mind. To get started, gather all of the loose papers around your home and sort them into three sections:
1) Hard Copy, 2) Paperless, 3) Toss.
While most paperwork can be organized digitally, there are a few key items that should be held onto in hard copy.
Identification Documents: birth / death certificates, marriage / divorce licenses, passports, social security cards, immigration paperwork, adoption papers
Vehicle and Home Ownership Documents: current vehicle titles, house deeds, mortgage papers, current insurance policies
Long - Term Medical Documents: simple / joint / living wills, trust paperwork, power of attorney instructions, funeral / burial arrangements, health insurance policies, life insurance policies
These documents can be stored in a secured filing cabinet, a home safe, or a deposit box at the bank. If you decide to store these items at home, make sure they are in a fire-proof box.
The key to creating a home free of paper clutter is digital organization. Essentially, all documents (aside from the hard copy key items mentioned above) can be scanned into the computer using simple apps such as Scanner Pro, Genius Scan, or Turbo Scan. Once the items have been uploaded to your device, organize them in online storage folders of your choice. Some secure storage options include Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, or Drop Box. Create a folder for:
Action / To Do: any paperwork that requires you time and attention / any paperwork that you haven’t gotten to sort through yet
Tax Documents: W2s, F1099s, tax returns
Family Keepsakes: family photos, kid’s art work / school work, celebration cards
Financial Documents: receipts, bills, bank statements
“But what about all of the bills and random subscriptions I receive in the mail?” I’m glad you asked:) Take the time to write down a list of all of the utilities services you use. Contact each service provider and ask them to bill you online. Opt to get everything sent through email.
Email Organization 101: Avoid having to filter through your inbox by creating email folders. For example, you could create a bank folder. You can then pre-filter any emails from your bank into the folder for easy access.
Anything that has been scanned into the computer can be recycled. Make sure to shred any documents containing sensitive identification or financial information before recycling. You’re more likely to consistently toss your excess papers if you have a designated recycling station.
We understand that the initial process of paper organization can be overwhelming. However, taking control of your documents will relieve stress and add tranquility to your environment. Here, at The Detailed Life, we are happy to tackle any of your paper piles big or small!