If there is one thing moving house and office can make very clear, it’s just how much paper mess we can accumulate.
Papers to action, papers to file, bills to pay, bills that are paid, documents to archive, tons of documents already archived – and the piles just keep stacking up!
So to help you get a grip of the never ending paper issue, here are six steps to help you go from paper mess to paper less.
1. Have an inbox for mail and paperwork
When mail or paperwork comes in, file it in a designated paper inbox until you have time to deal with it. This will not only prevent papers from becoming lost, it will also keep the paper mess under control.
2. When you clear your inbox action papers immediately
When you sit down to clear you inbox each day, action your paperwork immediately. If it needs to be entered into your accounting software or database enter it then and there. If it is a bill to be paid, pay it or put it in a separate “bills to be paid” inbox while scheduling yourself a reminder when it’s due. If it needs to be filed for safe keeping then pop it into the filing cabinet straight away.
This will cut down the amount of paper on your desk and around your home and office, as well as prevent double handling of documents.
3. Put tax receipts in a separate, secure place
To prevent important tax receipts from getting misplaced or accidentally thrown out have a separate, secure place to file them.
It could be a desk filing drawer or receipt book, whatever works best for you just make sure they get put there immediately to be entered into your accounting and bookkeeping system .
4. Scan and store documents electronically
If you want to really cut down on your paperwork, opt to receive your bills and statements online and store them in the clouds or on a back up drive.
It’s also a good idea to scan in important documents, receipts and warranties that can become faded or misfiled to keep them safe and easily accessible.
5. Archive old documents
For documents that are older than two years (and are not relevant, important or regularly referenced) consider clearing them out of the filing cabinet and putting them in a plastic tub with the year they are dated clearly printed on the tub.
Archiving documents will not only help you to file documents quicker, it will also help you find documents easier by reducing the amount of paper you have to sort through.
6. Clear out old archives
The benefit of archiving all your papers by year is that when it comes time to get rid of them you can easily and quickly dispose of them.
The clear out is an important step in getting rid of your paper mess and you may find that you can get rid of a lot of it before the standard seven year mark that you want to keep statements, tax records and important documents for.
How do you keep your paper mess under control?
This article first appeared on StartupSmart.