How did your tax season go this year? Was preparing your taxes a breeze because you’d carefully organized everything throughout the year to avoid the frantic searches you’d experienced in past years? Or did you file an extension because you’re hopeful that by October you’ll be able to find all the documentation you need? Your tax records might not be the only papers that are in disarray – here are some tips to stay on top of it all. And whether it’s this fall or next spring, here’s to making your next tax season stress-free.
Create a place for incoming papers. As tempting as it may be to attack your paper backlog first, start your paper organizing project by establishing a place for all new papers to go – otherwise your piles will get more unwieldy as soon as you bring in the day’s mail. Where does your paperwork collect now – the kitchen or dining room table?; the counter in the mudroom? Make the landing site official by assigning a container (a basket, decorative tray, or in-box) as your collection spot. Put all incoming paper (the mail, kids’ school papers, receipts, etc.) in that spot until you’re ready to act on it. Feeling better? Enjoy the relief of knowing that your piles aren’t going to get any bigger because you’ve stemmed the tide of new additions.
Create a system for papers requiring action. Paper piles typically represent decisions to be made or actions to be taken. For example, an invitation to a party requires a number of decisions and actions: decide if you’ll attend, RSVP, note the event on the calendar, buy a gift. Whew, no wonder you’ve been tossing it into a pile rather than acting on it! Establish places near where you’ll take action to collect the appropriate papers: a file folder for phone calls near the phone, a basket on your desk for bills to pay, a magazine rack next to the comfy chair for things to read – you get the idea. Write a note in your planner to remind yourself to take action on these papers at least once a week (e.g., pay bills on Saturday).
Here’s a link to my newsletter where you’ll find additional ideas to help you spring clean your way to organization.
Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom,