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Conquering the paper mountain in your home office

by respaced on January 11, 2010

January is a good time to organize and clean out your home office. Particularly the dreaded file cabinet. Ugh.

Did you know that you need to sort through the papers in your file cabinet at least once a year? Oftentimes, (some professionals say 80 percent of the time) what gets filed in a filing cabinet never sees the light of day again. And yet if you keep adding files to your file cabinet and never discard any, you’ll end up with an overly stuffed, impossible-to-open filing cabinet. In fact, you’ll probably need to buy multiple filing cabinets.


But why waste your money on unnecessary organizing devices like multiple filing cabinets? Simply make it a habit to go through your files once a year. Use these IRS guidelines to tell you what to keep and what can be shredded.


One thing that can definitely be shredded at the end of each month are receipts for purchases and for bills that you already paid. Not comfortable with that? Try getting an accordion file with a labeled pocket for each month of the year. When you pay a bill or have a receipt, file it in the month in which you paid it/received it. Twelve months later, you will come back to that pocket, and if you haven’t needed to retrieve the paid bill or receipt, shred the contents of that month’s pocket. That way, you are regularly disposing of extra papers instead of letting them pile up in mounds on your desk.

And since bills and receipts make up a large part of the paper volume that comes into your house, having a system that regularly disposes of them will make huge inroads in conquering the clutter in your office.

Super cute mini filing cabinet image courtesy of The Lighter Side.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

rburns January 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Thanks Mary Jo, that's exactly what I need to do. Hope you are well, I haven't seen you in a while. Are you still going to BBC? I haven't been since one of Erin's last classes.

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MaryJo January 13, 2010 at 2:54 am

No, I had to stop BBC because Nathan is too old/big/resistant for a stroller. I was very sad to quit, and then to hear about Erin leaving! I've been somewhat of a slacker about exercise ever since.

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