When it comes to being organised (which I love) I need all my stuff to be in its place with a system in place to help me find what I need when I need it. This just means I can be more productive and use my time efficiently. I also have too much paperwork when it comes to all the aspects of my everyday life. From medical documents, blogging resources, invoices, to receipts, idealists and so much more. Here are some of my best storage tips when it comes to organising your paperwork.
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Step 1: Declutter
The best place to start with any organising project is to declutter! This ensures you get rid of what you don’t use and only keep that what brings you joy (the Marie Kondo way)! By decluttering you go through all your stuff thoroughly which also allows you to simplify your home and surroundings.
Take out all of your documents from your drawers, cupboards and any boxes. Throw them all out on the floor (take a before picture) and go through each document one at a time. Deciding on which ones need to be kept by law (for example, any tax-related documents must be kept for a minimum of 6 years), what you need to keep (like medical records) and what can be discarded (e.g. old magazine clippings). Put them in 3 piles. Pile 1: Keep – for those documents that must be kept in their original form. Pile 2: Scan – those documents that need to be kept but can be scanned and originals discarded. And pile 3: Bin – this pile is for anything that you no longer need and that doesn’t serve any purpose in your life.
Step 2: Scan
Before we attempt to sort pile 1 (i.e. those documents that we are keeping), let’s do the easy part and scan in all of the documents that can be scanned and discarded. This is one of my favourite storage tips when it comes to organising my paperwork and documents. If you don’t need to keep the originals then there is no need to take up precious space in your drawers or cupboards with piles and piles of paperwork.
Just take each document and scan it in. I use an app called Scannable on my phone which allows me to scan in any document quickly and easily. Scannable saves files in PDF and JPEG. It can save to camera roll or email across! It also connects with Evernote which is a great app for being super productive. Another great app you can use is either Adobe (if you have an Adobe account) or PhotosToPDF which saves any document as a PDF.
The next thing I do once I have scanned in using Scannable, is email the file to my inbox and file away. I like to file in my Inbox and I save a copy on my computer and hard drive. Yes, I save in a few places as I have gone through the “I lost all my digital files” moment in my life and never want to relive it. The moral here is ALWAYS back up your backup!!! Never skip this step. I will put together a whole blog post about how I save and name my folders on my computer and hard drive. I tend to buy portable hard drives (US link) that I can keep safe in a fireproof safe (US link). There are also document bags that are fireproof and waterproof (US link).
Step 3: Sort
Once we have scanned in all the important items that can be discarded, the next step is to organise and sort the “keep” pile. These are the documents and paperwork that need to be stored and kept somewhere safe. I, of course, advise that you scan these documents as well that way if something happens to the original copies you have a digital copy just in case. Another important thing here would be to consider buying a waterproof, fireproof safe (US link) to store the most important and/or confidential documents such as wills, deeds, passports, hard drive backups, birth certificates, marriage licenses etc.
The main point to remember with sorting and organising as a storage tip is to NOT store all of the documents in one place. If you store everything in one large folder/ box and label it Important Documents it will be near to impossible to be able to find something once you need it. You must have a storage system in place that makes retrieval of documents fast and easy. It is a good idea to invest in a set of folders (that are uniform so they look pretty and are easily stored) or storage boxes. This way you can sort the documents and file them away under categories such as medical, invoices, personal documents etc.
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Step 4: Colour Code
The next storage tip is another favourite for me as I love colour-coding my files. Heck, I like colour-coordinating every aspect of my life. It not only makes things look prettier but it makes things easier to organise, categorise and retrieve if you have a convenient easy-to-follow colour code and file things away under it. What you could do is, for example, store medical documents in blue folders, invoices in green and passports in red. Another great idea may be to assign a colour to each member of the family and categorise and store documents this way if you have medical records to organise.
Step 5: Select a storage system
The storage system that you use should work specifically for you, the space you have and your life. If the system at any point doesn’t make things easier, more simplified or doable, then the system is not working and needs to be reevaluated. Organising documents and paperwork needs to be the best organisation that you do, as it’s very important to be able to access all your file easily. My storage tips for when it comes to choosing your storage systems include individual folders, file folders, and some pretty filing cabinets.
Step 6: Label
When it comes to finishing off your organising and decluttering projects, the best way to ensure that the systems you created work for you is to see where you need to return each item you use and to make sure you maintain those systems. One way of doing this properly is to label your folders and files to ensure they can be found easily. You can use a label maker (US link) (nothing too fancy) or use stickers, dividers or just white labels (US link) and handwrite on the relevant categories/ file names. Whatever is easier for you.
Remember, the main point to take away from this blog post is that any organisation system must make your life simpler. It should help you find the documents you need more simply. It should help you to be more productive to spend less time trying to find that invoice or document. The less time you spend trying to search or even organise each day, if your system works for you it will be easier to upkeep and return documents to their designated places after use.
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How do you store your documents?
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Til next time