Paperwork: how do you deal with yours?

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Now we are at the start of autumn, it just might be the right time to de-clutter.  There is something about autumn; the orange and brown leaves dropping from the trees, the rich coloured garments that adorn clothes shops, the array of scarves designed to keep your neck warm and you looking chic. Can you tell this is one of my favourite times of the year?

If you have children, you will feel my pain with regards to the countless number of letters and paperwork that arrives home in their school bag.  Every week there is some form of activity taking place where we have to sign a form and pay a small fee. My daughter has a drawer which I sort through every few months. I could not bring myself to do this task during summer as quite frankly we were having too much fun on family days out. Oops – did I just say that?

Utility bills are usually sent at this time of year giving a breakdown of your monthly payments for the following year. We have folders (in various colours if I may add) for incoming paperwork.  They are labelled:

*Banking 
*Health
*Important
*Utility bills
*Mobile phone
*Work
*Car

I endeavour to sort through this paper work say every three months (yes me, not my husband bless him). We only keep information for the last six months. If we need to go further back than this, we can call the organisation or log onto our account (where relevant).  We have a shredder than shreds up to four documents at a time. It instantly becomes hot and then has the nerve to switch off to cool down!  I have resigned to cutting documents with sharp scissors and placing them in the rubbish bin. 

So, what is your approach for dealing with paperwork in your home?

Do you allow paper to pile up or do you read, action and shred/file?

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27 thoughts on “Paperwork: how do you deal with yours?”

  1. Phoenicia, here in India we have the ‘Junk Dealers’ be it the unwanted paperwork or be any unwanted scrap from our homes we sell it to them which further they sell to specific dealers from their end. This is how we approach on dealing with the unrequired stuff at our homes.

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  2. I hate to say that I would probably not be as organized as you in the same situation. I struggle to keep my own paperwork organized. I do have a filing system and papers eventually move over to it for long term storage. However, my shredder broke and now I must hand shred. This of course slows down the process and makes me hesitate to clean out older files. So I still have pay stubs from a few years ago. Of course, I should just buy a new shredder, but that would be too easy! 🙂

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  3. Phoenicia, I no longer have children at home but I know what you mean about the paperwork they bring home – when did that start anyway?
    I sort through my paperwork at the beginning of each and since I have a woodstove right handy I burn all the dated stuff I no longer need.
    I like the idea of having an annual utility bill breaking down the next year’s payments. Here we get billed every month so you never really know what to expect.

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  4. Personally do as much as possible online which enables me to throw away bills and other documents. Even declare income and communicate with the tax authorities online. The more we can do online the better as far as I’m concerned.

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  5. I try to file before mountains appear, and the key word here is “try.” My sister recently introduced me to Marie Kondo, a woman whose ideas seem to be taking the world by storm. Her first book is called “The Life-changing Magic Of Tidying Up.” I followed, with great success and surprising enthusiasm, her method for going through and eliminating clothing. I haven’t followed through yet with her books and papers category of de-cluttering. I’m only mentioning this woman as I think many would find her ideas very useful. (Just google Marie Kondo.)
    Thanks for writing on such a worthwhile topic, Phoenicia.

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  6. Personally, I think it’s gotten so easy to prey on leaky cell-phone activities that hackers and criminals rarely go digging through the trash anymore, so I generally toss it. I still cut old credit cards into confetti.

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      1. Totally. I try to keep my phone on the DL when I’m out and about. I don’t like it constantly broadcasting my information.

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  7. I generally get my paperwork done on Friday afternoons. It’s a part of my freelancing schedule. I sometimes put it off, but always regret it when I do. Like all else in life, if I don’t schedule it, the chances of it getting done go way down.

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  8. Good for you Phoenicia! After my first trip to the county landfill when I lived in Maui I made a pledge to go digital as much as possible. I pay all of my bills online, keep digital records of everything organized in a cloud account to prevent accidentally deleting them, and do my best to avoid getting on junk mailing lists. It works for me, but then I don’t have children with homework to balance in the mix. 🙂

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    1. Online everything really is the way forward. On meeting my husband 12 years ago, I did not have online banking. Her persuaded me and boy am I glad he did! No journeys to the cash point to check my balance or whether a purchase has gone through.

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  9. Phoenicia, I’ve been ever so happy since electronic billing and payments has been around. Less paper to deal with! With that and the way we have the home paperwork organized we only go through it about once a year. Our community has paper (and electronic) recycling every so often. We stock up for that so we don’t wear out the shredder we have. Yep, they sure get hot!

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  10. Paperwork, ugh! I am able to do most of my bills digitally so the paper is at a minimum. I usually go through my files in August before the kids go back to school and January to clear out the previous year’s files. I also go through and reduce the files that are at least 3 years old. It keeps the paperwork and storage space to a minimum.

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  11. I do not do anything with paperwork that anyone would want to emulate. There is the stuff clipped to the hanging bulletin board in the kitchen, and the pile of stuff on top of the microwave. There’s the pile of stuff next to my computer and the things we shove into the cabinet with restaurant menus and appliance manuals. The bigger question is how we find anything.

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