Conquering The Paper Piles In Your Home

by Janet M. Taylor

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How to Easily Organize Your Bills

An Organized Life

Getting Started

1) Make an assessment of the room that is accumulating paper clutter. This will help you set goals.

2) Write your goal and be specific. I want to eliminate the clutter in the _________________.

3) Set a deadline. I would like to conquer my clutter by Christmas/ Thanksgiving.

4) List what is needed to achieve your goal.

Basic Needs

  • Desk/table/writing surface( make sure you have enough surface space to write and spread out materials.
  • Filing cabinet 2/4 purchase one that will grow with you.(good quality) - waste basket
  • Caddy or basket for supplies
  • File folders and/or hanging file folders(frames) Other Supplies
  • Bulletin Board
  • Shelving units/bookcase. ( books/ magazines) - Desktop organizers for supplies and paperwork Set-up/Layout
  • Spare room, corner of a room
  • Placement of equipment(left handed, right handed) - Extension cords equipment
  • Phone(speaker phone)
  • Fax
  • Computer

Getting Organized

Establishing a system

  • Keep it simple and easy to understand.
  • Make it easily accessible to family members.
  • Invest in a good filing cabinet or file storage boxes.
  • Alphabetize, color-code, categorize-financial (green), health (yellow), school (red), work (purple). Paper Management - Always remember piles are created because we delay in making a decision on the paper we receive.
  • Have a waste basket by your side - we never use 80% of the papers we collect.
  • Decide what is current information and what can be stored elsewhere.
  • Working File (bills, action)
  • Retention Schedule(how long will you keep information).

While working through the papers ask yourself - did I ask for this information?

  • Is this the only place the information is available?
  • Is this information recent enough to be current?
  • Can I identify the specific circumstances when I would want information?
  • What is the worst possible thing that could happen if I trashed this paper?

Items To Discard - Duplicates, Dated, Have no time to read - Salary statements after checking w-2 forms at year end.

  • Canceled checks for cash or non-deductions & warranty items.
  • Expired warranties and those manuals to equipment you no longer have.
  • Coupons after expiration date.
  • Other records no longer needed.

5 things that can reduce your paper clutter - Get off mailing list.

  • Open mail near wastebasket.
  • Consolidate credit cards.
  • Instruct companies not to sell or rent your address.
  • Don't order magazines you don't read.<

Preventing paper clutter

  • Schedule 1-2 hours a week to eliminate clutter.
  • Keep the trash can handy.
  • Always evaluate, categorize, file and throw out papers.

Categorizing/grouping giles and other related paperwork

Health Records

  • Create a chart or use 5 X 8 index cards to keep track of:
    • visits to the doctors
    • reason for medication
    • reaction
    • immunizations
  • File bills, medical insurance information in your health section.

Financial Records

  • Place cancelled checks in folder or box.
  • File statements once you have checked them for accuracy.
  • File tax information together.
  • Create a filing system with your accountant to keep track of financial information.
  • If you are selling your house within a year you may want to keep utility bills for potential buyers.

Kitchen Clutter

  • Organize recipes in recipe boxes or photo albums with dividers.
  • Create an office center using a storage box or caddy for scissors, tape, stamps, paper, etc.
  • Organize coupons in accordion pouches or boxes.

Travel & Papers

  • Organize your maps, brochures and travel information.
  • Create a packing checklist for your trips to remind you what to pack.
  • While on your trip take a file folder or large envelop to place all paper you accumulate while traveling.
  • After each trip set aside time to go through paperwork, file information and receipts you need for tax or reimbursement purposes.

The Mail

  • Choose a specific time and place to process your mail and have a large waste basket handy.
  • Sort mail according to family members.
  • Establish a set spot for leaving each person's mail (bedroom, home-office).
  • If a family member is out of town, store his or her mail in a box or manila envelop.

Sorting Mail

  • Dump - throw it out.
  • Action - to pay, write, or call.
  • To-read - catalogs or magazines
  • Filing - spend time once a week filing.

Helpful Tips For Sorting Your Mail

  • A reminder for a 6 month check-up (mark calendar).
  • Upcoming event tickets (create an event folder).
  • Remove from mailing list - create a form letter and make several copies.
  • New catalog - scan.
  • Magazines - rip and read.

Keeping Track of the Bills, Bill, Bills - create one pile.

  • File receipts.
  • Open bills and write the due date on the envelop - Make a note to yourself on your calendar when bill is due.
  • Create a list to keep track of all bills.

Conquering Your Reading Material

  • Be selective and set limits on what you read.
  • Incorporate reading into your daily life.
  • Prioritize your reading materials.

Maintaining Your Files

  • File regularly.
  • Keep files lean & current by moving out information.
  • Shift through papers every time you pull it out.
  • Once every 6 months go through papers.
  • Retention Schedule

Final Tips

  • Process each piece of paper as it comes in.
  • Refile things.
  • Put loose papers in clearly marked files.
  • Use a bulletin boards to post flyers or information about events.
  • Create a location to pay bills, write letters, make calls.
  • Set aside time to work on paperwork weekly.
  • Clear work space each time you are done.

Totally Organized is a professional organizing firm founded by Janet Taylor, Professional Organizer and Personal/Professional Coach. Totally Organized provides organizing, one-on-one coaching, seminars and products all devoted to help you organize your life. Chec out her website at

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