In the last post, I gave an overview of how I process paper. In addition to a regular review, I've found the key to staying on top of the paper in my life is a manageable and accessible filing system. My old filing system was anything but manageable! There were hanging folders stuffed with files - some with labels, some without. Many times, it seemed easier to create a new folder than to figure out where the piece of paper I had in hand should be filed. I ended up with too many files for my space, and even though I had attempted to be organized, it was still hard to find things. When I started reading more about organization, I realized I would never look at a majority of the paper I was saving OR I could access it online, so I didn’t even need the physical piece of paper.
It was necessary to do a major paper purge to unclog my drawers. At the end of the purge, I had two large boxes full of paper to shred and a realistic amount of paper left that would fit into my new system. In this post, I’ll go through the specifics of the purge, and next time I'll talk about my new (and improved) filing system. Note that I’m not providing tax or financial advice, so please consult your tax or financial professional to determine what’s best for you!
Bank and Investment Statements
Other Financial Documents
Health Related Documents
Property Related Documents
I felt amazing after “the purge”, which I’ll admit took a few weeks because I worked on it in pieces. There were lots of piles of paper on the floor and many evenings spent sorting in front of the TV. Shredding all that paper was scary, but it's been over 2 years since I did this, and I haven't needed ANYTHING that I shredded - phew! Remember, everyone's purge will be different, and if you have any doubt if you should save something, keep it until you've consulted the appropriate professional.
After all that work, I wanted to be sure I didn’t get back into the same scenario a few months down the road, so I gave myself some finite boundaries in which I could store future paper. I created an archive for long term storage, a binder system for things I need to keep and be able to access more regularly, and a simple set of clear plastic bins for memorabilia. Next time, I’ll walk you through how I set those up and how I use them on a daily basis. Have you done a paper purge of your own? Was it worth the effort? Share your tips with us in the comments!
If you would like any of these in the Excel format, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form and indicate which forms you'd like in the comments section.
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!