The chances are that you have at least some kind of paperwork in your life. Whether it’s just the odd bank statement or payslip or you have your own multi-million dollar business and have invoices and VAT records left, right and centre. If you’re self-employed you’ll know the joy of having to keep your income and expense records for at least five years, welp.
I know a lot of people have gone digital with these things, which is great – save the trees. But there are always odd bits and bobs that end up being in hard copy, and personally, I like having my records and files in physical form. I feel like I can organise them a lot better if I do and then I don’t end up losing them in the abyss of my hard drive (or if my hard drive fails). But really, both a hard copy and a digital backup would be the best way to go.
With this in mind, and due to the popularity of my previous organisation posts How I Stay Organised As A Blogger and 5 Tips To Be More Organised, I thought I would share how I store and organise my paperwork and hopefully it will inspire a bit of organisation into your life if you need it!
Don’t mix business with pleasure
A phrase to live by in general, but if you have both business and personal paperwork, keep them separate. You don’t want to mix up your bank statements for different accounts and keeping them completely separate will make finding things so much easier.
Use pretty things
If you’re anything like me then you’ll be an awful lot more likely to actually file things away if you have something cute to put it in. That could be a fancy full set of filing cabinets or if you need a space saving option then go for expanding files as they come in an array of beautiful prints and patterns, aren’t very expensive and can just be kept on a shelf or wherever is convenient. This is how I keep almost all of my paperwork. I used to use box files but it’s a nightmare to actually find things in those as everything is stacked on top of each other and you’ll be tempted to just chuck things in rather than filing them properly. The gorgeous polka dot one I’m using in the photo is from Busy B* and it comes with blank stickers and ones for different categories which are just fab as I was previously just sticking on pieces of paper as labels. The file is also really good quality, it’s much sturdier than another that I have!
Categorise, categorise, categorise
Keep all of your bills together, all invoices, receipts, statements, medical records, etc. give each type a different section and create subcategories where appropriate. I label each category and then within each category, I use mini post-it notes to label each month/year. Order things by date to make everything super easy to both file away and retrieve when needed. Make a category for absolutely everything, you don’t want a ‘Miscellaneous’ section where you’ll just shove anything you can’t be bothered to deal with.
Do it now, not later
Now that you have your beautifully organised and efficient filing system, use it! I have to admit that this is where my downfall is. Honestly, I don’t think it’s realistic to say you’re going to put everything away immediately as it comes in the door. I have a bad habit of leaving my post at whatever area of the house I open it, sometimes that’s the hallway, the kitchen, the sofa, my bedroom, all over the place really. So to combat this, I make sure I gather all of these bits of paper and put them into a pile to be sorted about once a week. I’ll then put things away and recycle what I don’t need to keep – remember that not every single thing needs to be kept.
I hope you found this useful, I find keeping things properly organised is actually life changing, having things cluttered and messy gives me a cluttered mind so I love getting everything into order! If you’re not sure how long you should be keeping certain paperwork for then this is a useful guide although I think it’s more aimed at people in the US and receipts for items with warranties should be kept for as long as the warranty is valid.