Spring cleaning in April is a common activity.
April is also Records and Information Management month and Stress Awareness month and the end of the UK tax year.
What a great example of interconnectedness!
- There are many scientific reports and findings that show how clutter, both physical and mental, cause us stress. Paperwork is one of the biggest areas of clutter in our modern lives.
- Stress affects our productivity, our health and our relationships.
- As we have to organise our tax paperwork this month it presents an opportunity to get all our paperwork organised.
So where to start:
Step 1: Planning
- Always start with the end in mind … what do you need to keep (think tax, legal) vs what is important to keep (family, reference).
- How long do you need to keep it for – a year, 6 years, 30 years, forever? I set up a set archive system for my business and self-employed clients which makes it easy to maintain as the years go by.
- How do you want to keep it – in paper format or digitally or a mixture of both?
If you are not sure then check – accountant, solicitor, family
Step 2: Gather your paperwork from around the house
Yes everywhere (even that small pile that has gathered behind the TV!) and bring it all together.
Step 3: Sort it into key areas.
I use: Financial, Household, Family, Personal which forms the basis of a system that works across both paper filing and digital filing. The best product I have found to enable you to do this quickly and keep organised is a box of 100 two-sided plastic pocket folders. For under £10 it helps you to group relevant papers together and organised.
Step 4: Organise storage.
Now you can see what folders you need and how many. Alternatively, if you are going digital then you can set up your data folders.
Step 5: File and label.
This doesn’t need to be done all at once but if you work at it a bit each day, by the end of April you will have reduced not just your paper mountains but also your stress levels.