Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Downsizing and Consolidating Files

Lately we have been downsizing and consolidating our files. When we first moved here to Ohio from Maryland, we had crate after crate of files. Both my husband and I had done quite a bit of teaching and speaking, so we had all sorts of resources.

After six years here, we decided to tackle this project. First of all, we went through the files that were inactive - mostly topical on various interests of ours.

It's amazing how time and the internet give perspective on old files. Almost anything we had on paper could be found on the internet and was more up-to-date. 

We recycled boxes and boxes of paper. 

Next we moved to our "active" files - those we have in our file cabinets. Again - recycling and shredding massive quantities of paper. I managed to get my files down to two file drawers.  My husband is shooting for four - he obviously has a lot more files than I do. His is still a work in progress. 

This is one of my least favorite jobs - going through papers and filing. But it feels good to have it done - lean and efficient. It also reminds me what I have and where it is. Of course it's not that hard now, since I only have two file drawers!

We put the last five years' tax returns in the file cabinet and stored the rest. Did you know that you must keep all your tax forms? You only need to keep supporting information for the last seven years, though. 

Documentation regarding real estate you own must be kept for seven years until after the property is sold.  

Our archived tax returns are in our store room - we know where they are, but we don't need them in our office, taking up valuable real estate. 

If you have a looming amount of files to go through, start small, a little at a time. It's amazing how much you don't need. And it's actually fun to relive some memories from days gone by.

More on filing:

Creating an Incoming Paper Hub

Taxes - Knowing Which Papers to Keep/Toss

Three Steps to Organizing Your Office