Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bills, Important Papers, and Things to do, Oh My!!

As a member of the Life Well Lived Getting Organized Panel, I was asked to blog about how I handle paper clutter.

That's an easy one. I don't just deal with paper at home, I deal with a ton of it at work too.

I definitely don't have it down perfectly yet, but here's how I handle it.



bills:    We put incoming bills in a basket on our kitchen counter. Once a month Jason & I have a Home Budget Meeting where we review the bills, set up online payment, and update our monthly budget for this month & next (if it won't be paid in full for any reason), and our debt reduction calculator.

important papers:    important papers are locked in a safe. Easy breezy.

stuff we might need:    this goes in "The Pile". We keep a pile in a kitchen cabinet with all the "might need" papers. Going thru The Pile is on my chore to-do list, to ensure that it's reviewed on at least a semi-regular basis.

emails:    an email doesn't leave my inbox until it's dealt with.

electronic files:    any electronic documents are stored on my hard drive in properly labelled folders. Files are backed up onto our external hard drive on a regular basis.


expense reports / copies of expense reports / travel itineraries:    as the sole support staff for 50 employees I handle a lot of mundane, but necessary papers. I have a file folder rack at the end of my desk for collecting papers from my team members for processing.

inbox:    besides the obvious of using my inbox for collecting incoming papers & need to deal with, I also use it to hold anything that still needs to be done. Makes it easy to know what items I still need to address.

current projects:    on another corner of my desk I have a desktop file organizer to hold papers related to current projects. This keeps them neat & organized, but still handy for easy access.

binders:    the small bookshelf next to my desk is filled with about 20 binders, each of them identical, each of them with a standardized label identifying its contents, and arranged alphabetical according to label. These binders hold everything from instruction manuals, to copies of request forms, to important record-keeping.

important papers:    important papers, particularly confidential information, is kept locked in a file drawer at my desk. The key is on my person at all times I'm in the office, and goes home with me.

emails:    emails don't leave my inbox until they've been dealt with. Once they've been handled, they are filed into folders labelled by either topic, or employee name. Yes, this means I have about 50 folders for email. Yes, this also means that my butt is covered if anyone ever comes looking for something.


Hopefully that might give you a helpful idea for handling document clutter. What about you? Any tips?


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