Tired of misplacing every piece of mail that comes through the front door, or losing documents within your office? Frustrated that you can’t travel because your passport’s expired? Ready to start paying your bills on time once and for all? Then it’s time to revamp your filing system. Change the way you’re managing (or rather, mismanaging) your paper flow and you’ll see great results.
Step 1. Get an Inbox
It can be a basket, professional letter tray, a bin, or you can even get creative and bedazzle a shoe box. Some people like binders, others like drawers. You choose the one that works with your décor and lifestyle. The key here is to use the inbox exclusively for work that needs to be dealt with.
Step 2. Pick One Processing Centre
Sounds fancy, but all it means is that instead of dumping the mail and other incoming paper work throughout your house or office, you pick just one spot. The “processing centre” is where your inbox will live. So tomorrow, when you bring in the mail, and later when your kid hands you a stack of school forms, you’ll have a designated home for all those pieces of paper.
Step 3. Schedule Weekly ‘Admin Time’
Think of it this way, whether you want to or not, you have to do the laundry, right? Same goes with paperwork. Schedule it within your day planner (whether electronically or hand-written) – and stick to it. Life will try to get in the way, but persist to go through your inbox at least once a week.
Step 4. Automate your Bills
There are quite a few advantages to setting up your bills so they automatically get paid. The first is obvious; no late charges or demerit points on your consumer credit score. Secondly, some bills can be set up to be paid with your credit cards, so you’ll get airline miles and other points programs adding up in no time!
Step 5. Go Paperless
This may sound time consuming, but you don’t need to take a week off work to set this up. Most companies are begging their customers to do it, and since some businesses charge a fee to send paper invoices, you’ll actually be saving money by going paperless. On your next ‘admin day’ simply take a few minutes to set up your accounts, so they’re finally paperless.
Step 6. Get an Accordion File Folder
There are thousands of filing options available, but generally they’re optimal for a business environment. Accordion file folders, especially the 21-pocket ones, are genius. You can either sort your bills alphabetically, or by month, and then there’s room in the other pockets for things like warrantees, receipts for big ticket items, and supplies like blank envelopes, thank you notes and stamps.
Step 7. Recycle – Shred – File
Paying bills is actually the easy part; it’s all the paper shrapnel that’s the issue. On ‘admin day’, you’re not only going through your inbox to pay bills and schedule appointments, you’re also dealing with managing pieces of paper. But don’t despair, most documents can simply be recycled, some confidential items need to be shredded, and paperwork that you need for tax purposes needs to be filed.