5 Tips on How to Organize Tax Documents, Paperwork, and Receipts
How to Organize Tax Documents, Paperwork, and Receipts
Here we are, at the beginning of yet another year. For many people, this means that they have set out new goals and resolutions on keeping a clean house, whether they are planning on selling or dwelling. With that, each week of January, we'll be offering advice on keeping a clean and organized home. This week we are going to focus on getting paperwork in order. After all, now that 2020 is finally over, you'll be getting tax documents and other important paperwork in the mail. April may seem far away, but I can almost guarantee that it will be here before you are ready. Time spent now getting paperwork, as it comes in, put away properly will save significant stress (and time) then.
5 Tips for Organizing Important PaperworkWhether your goal is to get ready for tax season, have a more organized office or workplace, or just simply create a little less stress, around paperwork, the tips contained in this article will help you! This post is based on one of my favorite organizers, Alejandra from Alejandra.tv. Her organizational series on YouTube is really worth a watch, if you love (or want to love) organizing!
Tip #1: Declutter and Make Space
Start taking an inventory of what you need to keep, pitch, shred, or recycle. The best advice in keeping an organized space is to minimize what's there. Do you really need to keep that magazine that you've had sitting in that drawer for the past year (and have never looked at)? Are you keeping an entire cookbook magazine for a single recipe? Maybe you can just keep the singular page instead! Let's get to the meat of what you've got and get rid of the rest.
Tip #2: Everything needs a place.
Once you've identified what you need to keep, it's time to start getting them grouped and categorized. If you are saving documents for big event, like a wedding, make a special folder, or basket for all documents related to this event. This way, you'll know exactly where they are when you need to find them.
Tip #3: Active VS Inactive
Active papers are things that are happening now. Ex: 2021 taxes are active, 2019 taxes probably aren't.... unless you still haven't filed those taxes. Keep active documents where you can easily access them. A desktop file organizer may be perfect for this.
Inactive papers are reference and records. Since we know we need to save 7 years of taxes, this is where they are categorized. These documents can easily be filed away in a drawer, filing cabinet, or even a box in a closet. Just be sure wherever you have stored them, it is labeled and easily identifiable in the event that you need to reference them at some point in the future.
Tip #4: Sort incoming papers as soon as they come in
When paper hits your desk, or your mail, at home, immediately organize into shred, trash, recycle, and active, or inactive. It may be helpful to have bins nearby clearly labeled so you can do this quickly. You don't need to immediately shred your "shred" pile. You just need to sort and identify what's important and what's not. This will keep you from having piles of papers randomly throughout your house, or on your desk!
Tip #5: Make notes for yourself
Leave yourself notes on what needs to happen on any active papers. This will help you remember why you kept this piece. It will save time in the future. After a crazy week, will you really remember why you kept that receipt, stuck in the middle of your active stack? Were you supposed to scan and file in Quickbooks, provide a reimbursement to an employee, or was this for a holiday gift and you are waiting to see if they may want to return or exchange the item? Taking just a moment of time can save you lots of stress later!
Take time now, so the future can be a little easier!
While some of these steps may feel insignificant, added up together, they can make a world of difference. Have you ever come home to realize that the mail has been piling up on your counter for days and you've been too busy to even go through it? Have you found your inbox overflowing with paperwork and now you don't even remember what you needed to do with it? These are all stressful moments that can be eradicated with just a few minutes each day.
If you really want an organized life, it's important to take just a few moments, each day, to identify what needs to be kept and what you can let go of. Then, take immediate action. This is the only way to ensure that useless items don't clutter up your world, and suck time out of your schedule!
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