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How to Keep your Paperwork in Order

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 9 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Keeping Paper Work In Order Home Office

Do you know where your birth certificate is? Would you be able to lay your hands on your passport if you needed it in a hurry? Are all your tax records up to date and in order? If you can't answer yes to these questions then you may need some help with keeping your paperwork in order. Here are some suggestions to help you keep things in check.Keeping a systematic plan.

Your household should be viewed as a mini-business since many of the functions of planning, purchasing and record keeping are the same as they are for any other type of business, large or small. You will find financial records becoming a vital part of your life. They are a key to your credit standing, are essential to help you save money on taxes, and provide a continuing indication of your financial progress. A systematic plan for keeping track of important papers which come into your home can save hours of anxious searching, can help preserve peace and harmony and make it easier to cope with emergency situations.

Keep your desk in order

  • In most offices, whether at home or at work, paper is the number one enemy of a neat, highly functional desk. This makes your waste basket its best friend. Use it regularly to rid your desk and files of unneeded documents, magazines, junk mail and any other paper that ties up your desktop. And don't forget to recycle.
  • Don't automatically print out e-mail and other electronic documents before considering whether you actually need to. By keeping it in your e-mail system or copying the documents on to your hard drive, you'll have easy access to the material, save paper and keep your workspace neat.
  • To prevent paper clutter, keep all your needed documents in file folders. As a last resort, create a "Miscellaneous" file for loose papers that can't be filed elsewhere.
  • Use the file drawer in your desk or a desktop standing file for your active files. Put old and inactive files in a separate file cabinet away from your desk.
  • Instead of keeping loose scraps of paper with your notes, telephone numbers and other bits of information, make it a point to transcribe them into your planner. You'll always know where to find the information you need.
  • Re-file regularly - as you finish a project, move the files associated with it away from your desk and into a file cabinet or storage area.
  • If you've taken old files out of storage for a specific project, don't forget to put them back when you no longer need them.
  • Dedicate a specific time each day for doing paperwork. Close your door and have your phone on voicemail to avoid distraction.
  • remove yourself from any unnecessary distribution and mailing lists
  • Throw away or redirect any documents that you do not need. Do not file anything unnecessarily. Keep an affective filing system
  • Keep your filing system simple. You should be able to find anything you need immediately.
  • The information that is used the most should be the most accessible.
  • Establish a shelf life for each of the different types of files you keep. Throw away paperwork when it is no longer relevant. Do not hold it indefinitely, clogging up the system
Record-keeping, however, is more than merely a matter of neatness and order. Legal and safety factors enter in as well. Many records and papers can be kept in a home file for ready access, while others should be left with your attorney or placed in a safe-deposit box. A good rule to follow is to keep the item at home unless it is a legal document or is difficult to replace or duplicate. Then it should be kept in a safe-deposit box or possibly left with your attorney.

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