If you’re like most of us, you’re a little surprised by the amount of paper you have in your house—old tax papers, ATM receipts, business cards, old catalogs, credit card receipts, financial records, medical records, holiday and birthday cards, old calendars, owner manuals, and your children’s artistic masterpieces. How do you manage all these important papers without feeling like a hoarder?
The most important thing you can do with all that paper is to sort it regularly. Items that were once important often become unnecessary over time: the owner’s manual for the car you sold last year, for example. Toss it.
Create Specific Places for Each Type of Record
Designate a folder or an entire file drawer to each type of record. Label each accordingly—medical, owner’s manuals, Financial, keepsakes, etc. Remember, once you’ve placed an item in one of these drawers or folders, don’t ignore it. In time most of the things you store away can be shredded and thrown out. Go through these folders at least once each year and decide what you still need to keep. This task is easy to forget, so schedule it in your planner early.
Decide What To Throw Away
Keeping something is easy, but clearing clutter requires an honest evaluation of the value of an item. That can be hard, but clearing space is incredibly liberating. One way to know the value of an item is to ask, “When was the last time I looked for this?” If it’s been a few years, it can probably go to the shredder.
Most tax related items should be kept for at least three years, and some need to be available for seven. Talk with your tax advisor to know what is best for you. Once the appropriate time has passed, shred as much as you can. You can also scan papers and store them electronically. The IRS accepts electronic copies of your papers as long as they’re legible.
Your children are amazingly gifted aren’t they? They’re also prolific artists. If you keep everything they create for you, you’ll be buried alive in your house. It pays to be selective. Keep the most sentimental creations and those that you feel are their best work. Go through their work after each report card and see how much of their stuff they’re willing to give up. It’s also fun to take a picture of them next to their artwork so you have the memory, then you can throw away the bulky artwork and save the image on your computer.
Consider the Cloud
If you save your photos and documents in a cloud service you’ll have access to them anytime or anywhere. They won’t take up valuable living space in your home, and you can organize them any way you like.
Hopefully we’ve given you a few good suggestions and helped spark even better ideas of your own. Organizing is a personal thing, so you’ll want to find what works for you and your family.
Luckily, storing your planner pages is easy. Simply slip them into your storage binder and sleeve, and you’ll have easy access to your personal record for as long as you’d like to keep it.