Paperwork: A Blessing And A Curse
I have been under the pressure of a deadline lately. One of the most important deadlines, in fact: filing my taxes.
Normally I’d have my taxes done by now but this year is different.
In the old house I had a desk and an office area where I kept most of our recent paperwork organized. As we approached the move, I let my paperwork build up and bills ended up in “to be filed” grocery bags.
All that paperwork (in addition to the older stuff) ended up in multiple boxes, which then ended up in multiple rooms of the new house. I’m finding myself pretty disorganized when it comes to paperwork right now and with taxes due, I have to kick it into high gear.
To make matters worse, all the old paperwork (2005 and earlier) that hadn’t been filed properly to begin with got thrown the mix. I’ve been avoiding that mess since before we got married but it appears I can avoid it no longer.
My original plan of attack involved organizing only 2008 and 2007 paperwork then putting the older paperwork in bags separated by year. I figured the only reason I’d have to access the old stuff would be for an audit or to dispute a bill. Why waste my time organizing ancient bills for something as unlikely as an audit? If it happens I’ll just sort through the bags then.
On the other hand, why not just file that old paperwork into general categories (utilities, credit cards) while I’m already sorting it? It’s going to have to pass through my hands to be examined for date anyway; I might as well put it in some sort of order, right?
Good thinking, but that could lead to a slippery slope where I find myself wasting time and resources on paperwork that I’ll never need to look at again.
So, my plan is this:
I will properly file the 2007 and 2008 paperwork in the file cabinet. Those years are the most relevant and I need the 2007s accessible right now for taxes.
I will “lightly” organize the paperwork from 2006 and 2005. I bought accordion-style organizer boxes for the task. The boxes already have general categories labeled on the dividers so it should be easy to lightly organize those years as I sort them. I can also store the paperwork in those boxes for easy access.
Paperwork from 2001-2004 will be placed into bags labeled with the year. I didn’t want to give up on those years but I have to draw the line somewhere or I’ll be at this for weeks. It’s like I’m declaring paperwork bankruptcy for those years. I think the best plan at this point is to make a clean start going forward.
I have also made a promise that, from now on, all new paperwork will be organized into folders in the file cabinet, then stored in file boxes until shredder time.
I know paperwork isn’t fun but its life. Now I’m off to tackle some serious filing.
Do you have a method for organizing old paperwork? How far back to do you keep records?
Image Source: Librarian Avenger