Paper Clutter – Piling vs. Filing

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A funny, but it’s no joke. To manage your paper clutter, understanding the core paper categories can help you get started turning piles into well-organized files.

Some rare individuals find storing paper around the office in piles works fine, but most of us find it ineffective, inefficient and not so easy on the eyes.

It will make things easier to know that whatever paper you are keeping will usually fall into one of three categories.

TYPE

DESCRIPTION

HOW TO STORE

USE

Active

Related to a current project or core activity. Examples might be client work, a home remodel project, shopping lists or the paper around a Board of Directors position you hold

Store this paper close at hand. Much of my active paper does exist as (very small) piles on my desk, under paperweights. The paperwork from other active projects are each in a labeled folder in an open file bin near my desk.

Used regularly, almost daily

Reference

Paper you need to refer to on occasion. The “go to” paper you get when it’s needed.

Tax documents, bills, financial paperwork, instruction manuals.

Used weekly or monthly.

Archive

All paperwork you are required or need to retain. This includes tax archives, financial transactions (stock purchases), older client files and the like.

This paper you only go to when it’s needed for a specific issue or transaction. In some cases, never! For example you are hoping you never get audited by Uncle Sam but you will want that paper if you!

Used annually or in the off chance you need to refer to it.

To begin to manage your paperwork, categorizing your paper into these types can be a great way to start!

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