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I decluttered in the office! Need more help!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

And I realized the reason that there's so much clutter... is that the file cabinet is choked full of outdated useless paperwork.

So my next mission, God help me, is to take the shredder, set it up, and clean out the file cabinet so I can use it for... filing things.

Any suggestions on this? What to keep, what to shred? Is one file folder per kid with their school/medical paperwork an efficient way to do it?

post #2 of 6
Not much actual help, but I am here with you (we picked the same project today.)

Mine was full of outdated crap too, because it is heavy & under/part of the desk & inaccessible. I pulled it out & in that space I am now keeping a plastic box with the kids' art projects (that I have let stack sadly on the top of the desk- oh, the dust.) It fits perfectly, is light & easy, & that's worth a whole file cabinet's worth of space . Unlike my files!)

I got an 'Office Select' Portable (prelabelled, bliss) File for the small shelf above it. I think the smallishness of it will help me keep things pared down. (I also got two clear snapping file folders for bulky stuff like tax reciepts, which I have now stapled & added. So it is not as chaotic & them just stuffed in there. ) And I got an actual tray for stuff to be filed.

Everything fits, everything matches, the space is more nearly matched to its actual use (I am bad with trying to fill up emptiness, then having no room left to put stuff) AND I will be able to clear up the piles & dust, yuck. Clutter sucks. And desk clutter is the worst.

Have fun, I'll try to!
post #3 of 6
This is such a hard area to manage - the paper work. There are several organizing websites that address this and there is good info out there. This is what I do.

ALL tax records and any paper that will back up what I claimed are kept for 7 yrs in single file packets, 2005, 2004, 2003, etc. I keep medical info for about 2 yrs unless it's an ongoing, cronic condition. I figure if the Dr. and the insurance haven't billed me any thing additional in the 2 yrs I'm good to throw it away. I keep school awards/certificates/photos and the last report card of each yr for each child.

I have 12 hanging files, one for each month then added additional files for TO PAY, ACTIVITIES, each kid for school stuff and I recently added a PETS folder. All bills paid in May get put in the May file. Insurance stuff is broken down into auto, house, life, like the annual policy statements they send. I kept a file for the auto accident I had 2 yrs ago but I may shred that this year.

At the end of the year I go through the 12 month file folders to pick out what I need for taxes: donation receipts, child care receipts, etc. then shred the rest. I don't need the old visa bill from Dec. 2004 so it's shredded. I tried to make the whole system VERY easy and it works for me. I'd rather have the monthly filing quick and take about an hour once a yr to purge the whole thing. I have very few assests so I don't need a lot of catagories like stocks, bonds, properties, etc. Birth certs. ssn cards and shot records go in a fire proof lock box.

I lived in Japan 12 years ago and kept the rent book and a couple of train maps that I obviously don't need here in SW FL but I like having them so they have a seperate file. I've read that 90% of the paperwork we keep is never looked at again.

I hope I helped someone with this, paper work really needs to be customized by you so it makes sense to you. I found yrs ago that filing electric, mortgage, water and so on was too time consuming so I went to the monthly file system and it works for me.
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Ok, so I can justify a trip to the office supply store??

I think what I'll do is to sort through one drawer at a time in the file cabinet and figure out what I have left when I'm done shredding and recycling. That might make it easier to choose categories for the file folders.

Dh said he would help, and even if all he does is keep the kids out of my hair and/or let them help him shred, it would go faster.

Maybe I'll find ds's birth certificate!
post #5 of 6
What we do - I have a file cabinet with a file for each account, a file for each of us with our name on it with things like birth certs, soc sec statements, etc. and a file marked Taxes 2006. Whenever something comes in during hte year we know we will need for our taxes, we throw it in that folder - donation receipts mostly. Then at tax time we just pull out that folder and everything is ready to go.

Once a year I pull out all the old statements and throw away those I don't need anymore, and put anything I need to keep in three ring binders marked for that account (e.g. Fidelity)

I personally prefer to keep at least a few months worth of bills from each utility because sometimes I need to go back and reference something and it sucks when you can't figure out what you need, similar with credit card bills. I have gone back and used them to determine things like big purchase for sales tax credits, etc.

Investment information we keep forever at this point because when we sell something we want to be able to determine the cost basis for the sale - last year I was sure glad we had DH's statements from 95 when he bought the stock we had sold!
post #6 of 6
Argh, it ate my last post.

Anyway, how are you doing, Pen? (I am waist deep in files still, but have like 5 stuffed grocery-bags thrown out. Much progress, but still scary.)

For a BREAK, do you know what I did? Went into my fav list Category 'Women & Baby' & KILLED all my diaper, sling, baby clothes, nursingwear links. OMG. It was traumatic. All the cloth diapers I never had a chance to try! (And here I held myself up above all this hyena business! )

There were hundreds (I did other dead links, too.) It took an hour & a half. Goodbye, little baby stuff *sniff*. I'll research you again when my dd needs you again.

Sigh, back to business. My, my files are lookin' slim these days.

PS I have a stack, an inch thick, of printed IMs from dh from when we were getting to know each other, circa '96 . What do I do? Spend an eternity typing out the nice ones? Scan them all indiscriminately? (Most likely, put them in a similar stack with my own song lyrics for 'later'?) Man, if I'd had a pc then, it would've taken much less room, but what was my dh's excuse for printing up the IMs?

Urg. Paper tigers.
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