Everyone has that pile of paperwork, either lurking in a drawer or cupboard, waiting to be dealt with when time becomes available.
With busy lives and so many other tasks which seem to take precedent, the amount of clutter slowly increases until it’s such a mammoth job it can be difficult to know where to begin!
Thankfully, with a little forward planning and a system for organisation in mind, it needn’t be too taxing to declutter unneeded paperwork, while ensuring essential documents are safe and accessible for any future use.
Making a Start- It’s Not as Hard as You Think!
One the most important starting points is set aside a healthy amount of time to allow the job to be completed. There is nothing more likely to cause mistakes or more disorder than beginning to sort through years worth of hoarded paperwork, only to be called away and the job left uncompleted.
An unrushed, relaxed mind is much better than trying to rush through and accidently throwing away that driving license or important bill! Take a coffee, get yourself comfortable and make a start.
Creating piles is a great way to begin to categorise.Allow one for bank statements, one for bills, (which can have two sections, paid and to pay).Important documents such as tax codes, birth, death and marriage certificates can go in another.
Legal, for example anything relating to house sales or tenancy, then insurances for car and home, passports, with any further categories added to suit your personal circumstances.
You may find through the clearing process all manner of items which won’t fit into this system. Place them to one side for now, and apply a keep or save principle to those later on.
The different categories you’ve created will also give you an idea of the time scales recommended to keep them for.Bank statements are generally thought to be needed for as far as 6 years if needed for tax purposes in the future.
With increasing use of online banking, a year might be deemed more realistic for any lurking paper copies.Invoices, bills and other money requests should date back one year from payment, unless any ongoing issues are likely to arise.Insurance documents, policies and any claims details can safely be destroyed after two years.
But What Do I Do With All This?
By now, you should be making some headway, with the ‘destroy’ pile growing ever larger! Consider the best methods for you of destroying the junk pile .
The personal data it holds can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and nobody wants to log in one day to find their bank account has been emptied as a result of their bank statement being found, or have to deal with the recourse of identity theft.
Paper shredders are a fairly inexpensive way to do this, or have a good old fashioned burning!It isn’t recommended simply to place the information in the refuse without first either blanking out personal information or destroying it completely; fraudsters have been known to sift through to collect enough data to use maliciously.
Success! Reap the Rewards.
Congratulations! Now you’ve achieved a slimmed down, relevant administrative system! Pat yourself on the back.
The only thing left to do now is decide how to file these in a way which is quickly and easily accessible but crucially, allows you to add to it regularly to prevent a further build up of unsorted documents.
Folders are a great idea, clearly named and safely stored. If more space allows, a cabinet or box file can be an invaluable.Whatever you decide works best, try to build a habits of either filing away paperwork as it arrives, or set aside a time weekly to do this.A little time spent here can save a lot later on!