Day 23: Bills and Paperwork
Home office and desk areas can easily become number one clutter-catchers. With multiple family members congregating around a single home computer, this zone can quickly become the eye of a paper clutter hurricane. While we have already worked on creating workable systems for mail and children’s paperwork, it is also important to make sure your home has a functional system for all bills and additional paperwork that come through your door.
One important key to cutting down the clutter is having a strong filing system. If you can, let go of the need to have paper and tangible files. Scan and archive as much as you can and switch to online bill-paying to cut back on junk mail and paperwork. When mail arrives, open and sort it immediately, keeping a waste bin nearby so you can discard junk then and there. Use electronic subscriptions for magazines so you can read them from your tablet and cut back on even more paper.
It can be difficult to “let go” of paper. Scanning and archiving can take some getting used to. Once you start to cut back on paper, you will be amazed at how much freer and in control you feel.
Objective: A bill-pay, paperwork and filing system that keeps your home office clear of clutter and user-friendly.
Assess the current situation: How much space do you need for files? What can be shredded and discarded? How can you cut back on paper?
1. Sort and declutter. Gather the paperwork compiled from yesterday’s office organization plus any other paperwork still lying around the house in order to sort and declutter.
Sort into the following piles:
- Can be resolved now
- Junk/remove from list
- Can be changed to online payment/statement now
- Can be resolved in two weeks
- Can be resolved in one month
- Can be scanned and archived
- Can be filed
- Can be shredded
Scan the following:
- Paid invoices for one year (change as many as possible to online bill-pay)
- Receipts for one year
- Articles, clippings and inspirations
- Medical receipts, claims and informational documents
- Car repair info and receipts
File the following:
- Taxes and correspondence with the IRS (save for seven years and then shred)
- Legal claims and documents
- Business licenses and legal documents, such as articles of incorporation
- Social Security statements/cards, birth certificates, titles and licenses (store in a secure location, in a safe or safety deposit box)
2. Switch to online bill pay. Contact all of the entities that send you a monthly bill and find out if they offer online bill pay. Insurance companies and investment firms almost always offer e-statements. Contact yours and switch.
3. Eliminate junk mail. If you didn’t do this already on Day Three, contact all junk mail senders and ask to be removed from their list. Discard junk mail immediately (before it ever hits your desk or any other surface in your home).
4. Bank online. If you don’t have it already, set up online banking and request electronic statements.
5. Shred and discard. Get rid of all items that are no longer relevant.
1. Paint-Can Bill Pay Center (MarthaStwewart.com) 2. Desktop Priority Station (ContainerStore.com) 3. Put your Walls to Work (BHG.com) 4. Family Command Center (RealSimple.Com) 5. Bills Front & Center (BHG.com)