Tabletop Solutions- “I need this today, a week or month from now”
In our Systems for Incoming Mail post, we shared how a mesh tabletop file organiser could be used to sort paper coming into the home. Centralising and soon after processing paper avoids the pile-up. Magazine holders, stacked trays and open-top files are useful in organising paper in this first stage. You can reasonably fit up to three months of paperwork such as receipts within these type of organisers.
File Boxes- “I need this a year from now”
Any paperwork which has transitioned from your tabletop solution and which you think you will need to refer to a year from now should be retained in a file box. But be ruthless! Is the physical document the only way to access this information? While you may want to keep the receipts for bills paid, keeping the original bill may not be necessary especially if you have signed up for online bill paying services. Even bank statements can be accessed online and backed up to the cloud or an external drive. Warranties, vehicle maintenance and medical records usually should be retained for this period of time or longer. A plastic file box may hold up to two years of essential paperwork.
File Cabinets/Safe- “This is really important for like forever”
A waterproof, fire safe solution is your absolute best bet for critical documents. Sometimes you may opt to store these externally or even scan or create a photo version for easy reference. This type of paper may not be voluminous or take up a lot of space but should be stored separately from daily or monthly accessed documents. Think long-term insurance policies, contracts, birth or marriage certificates and the like.
The number one tip for organising- never file and forget! If your current storage spots are full, that may be an indicator you need to review and purge documents.
For detailed information on how long to keep documents, download the BHG free guide.