Even though we do so much online these days, there is still so much PAPER! Often my desk at home is a dumping ground for all sorts of paper: mail, advertisements, newspapers, school papers from my kids, receipts, forms to fill out, records, notes. I feel like I am constantly trying to manage paper.
I finally figured out a system that is working for us. I share more about it in this video. But, one important key point is that I believe each person needs to have a system that is unique to their situation. Maybe your categories are different. Maybe you have a different system for filing papers. Learn from others but then implement a process that works for you and makes sense for your life.
Here’s a quick re-cap on the categories I mentioned in the video.
- Inbox – This is where I put new papers that I need to “process”. This is the category for papers that I need to go through and look at such as mail, school forms, brochures, etc. When it is time to go through the “Inbox”, I then place the papers in the other categories below or shred them if they are not needed.
- Action – These are papers related to an action I need to take. Maybe I need to mail in a specific form. Maybe I need to make a phone call to a company. Maybe it’s a paper that reminds me to do something. This signifies that I need to do as task.
- In Progress – These are papers that represent action items that are in progress. Usually, I use this category to signify when I may be waiting to hear back on something. Usually this is an item where there may be some back-and-forth until it is resolved.
- File – This is the easy box. These are simply papers that need to be filed away in my file cabinet. These may be important records or statements that I need to keep in my file drawer.
- Hold - This is a temporary holding area for items I will later throw away or shred. This section is for papers where I am done with the task and I’m just waiting for a confirmation before I trash the paper. For example, if I deposit a check using my banking app and take a photo, I keep the check for 10 days just to make sure it goes through okay. Also, if I mailed in a return for an item, I’ll put the shipping label here until I confirm that I received a refund for the return.
I hope this helps inspire you to figure out a paper management system that will work for you! Just remember it’s an iterative process. So, start making some small changes and you can adjust as needed.