We all have paperwork that needs to be taken care of and, if you’re like me, it’s not your favorite task.
Allowing those papers to pile up, however, is an emotional and mental drain and can even cost you money. Scattered papers mean missed bill payments, late fees, additional charges and may even result in an increase in the interest rate on your credit card.
The simplest solution is to go paperless as much as possible. Change your bill notifications to email rather than snail mail and sign up for auto pay options. If you struggle with organization though this can cause problems if you fail to add due dates to your calendar or you have trouble keeping enough money in your checking account to cover upcoming bills that are auto-drafted.
Because I am a very visual person I prefer to receive most of our bills in the mail. My normal process is to open a bill as soon as I receive it, mark the due date on my calendar and place it in the Financial pocket of my Brain in a Binder.
After my recent car accident I was unable to sit up for long periods of time or even think about bills and paperwork. The pile on my desk kept growing until this past week when I had to face it.
In order to attack the paper pile I used my 10 Minute Quick Sort Method.
First label 3 empty file folders: NOW, 10 MINUTES A DAY and FILE.
(I like to use a sticky note on the front because they are easy to see.)
Next open any unopened mail and discard any trash.
Next quickly sort each piece of paper from your pile into the appropriate folder:
- Bills and any paperwork that requires immediate attention (tag renewals, insurance paperwork, etc.) go into the NOW folder.
- Items that require action but are not immediate (letters to respond to, subscription renewals, paperwork without a deadline, etc.) go into the 10 MINUTES A DAY folder.
- Items that simply need to be filed away for later go into the FILE folder.
Once you have completed sorting you can set the 10 MINUTES A DAY folder and FILE folder aside for later and start on the items in your NOW folder.
If you are still in the organizing mood you can place the items in the NOW folder in order by date, for example, the bills that need to be paid first would be at the top of the pile.
Once you have the papers in order start with the top item and take action — pay the bill, etc. As items are completed move that paper into either the FILE folder to file later or place it in the shredder or trash.
When the NOW folder items are taken care of you can begin working on the items in the 10 MINUTES A DAY folder. Usually by the time I have finished the NOW items I am ready for a break so I put the folders away until the next morning when I will spend 10 minutes working on the TEN MINUTES A DAY folder. The key is to keep the folder on your desk and spend just a few minutes a day dealing with the papers inside it.
Once the TEN MINUTES A DAY folder is taken care of you can spend a few minutes filing everything in the FILE folder.
As new mail comes into your home take care of it right away by using these three folders and you hopefully won’t have a huge pileup ever again.
So here’s what my desk looks like now.
Happy Spring Desk Cleaning!
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