Organizing Important Documents: 7 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Paperwork
Everybody’s talking about spring cleaning, making it the perfect time for gathering and organizing important documents you or your family may need during an emergency or life changing event. I recommend organizing important documents before such an event occurs. Take the time now, and you’ll find it much easier to put your hands on information when you need it most. Plus, your loved ones will know where everything is, too.
Use the following tips to get started. Tackle a little bit at a time – you don’t need to do it all in a weekend. Trust me, in no time at all, you’ll be sailing into summer, knowing your most important documents are in order and no longer a project that never seems to end.
Gather Important Documents
Start pulling together your important documents. By important documents, I mean insurance policies, financial information, login access to online accounts, travel documents and medical information, etc. My book, No Time Like Now, A Guide to Organizing Your Life’s Traditional and Digital Information, offers an array of valuable tips as well as an “important document checklist” to get you started.
File Tax-related Documents
Spring is also tax season, and there’s no way around it. While you’re organizing important documents, create a folder for tax-related items. Filing away tax documents and receipts as you receive them throughout the year makes tax time far less stressful. Read our 10 tips to organizing tax documents to create a system to sort and categorize these documents.
Pay homage to spring and save a tree (or two) by going paperless. Request paperless statements from utility companies, financial institutions, credit card providers and loan companies. You can also use smartphone apps to collect tax receipts digitally. I also recommend scanning important documents so you can access them from your computer or smartphone with a click of a button.
Back It Up
As you organize important documents, scan and store them on your computer. In addition, save these documents to the cloud as well as an external backup drive. Use backup software, such as Carbonite or Mozy, to automate the task. Learn more about cloud storage in our recent blog post.
Shred and Recycle
Once your documents are backed up, there’s not need to keep all of that paperwork. Instead, shred documents, a great way to reduce clutter and a avoid identity theft. Shred utility bills, credit card statements, pay stubs and financial statements. Do NOT shred insurance policies, birth and marriage certificates, real estate deeds, investment certificates, vehicle titles or loan documents. Since we’re talking spring, go green and find out how to recycle shredded paper.
Create a folder in your email browser for important emails you’ve flagged or don’t want to lose. Once you move these emails into the folder, delete unwanted emails that clutter, rather than add value, to your inbox. Unsubscribe from newsletters you never read. Also unsubscribe from promotional emails from online stores from which you no longer shop.
Keep your online accounts safe by entering login information into a password manager, such as those offered by LastPass, Dashlane or iCloud Keychain. We also offer a free downloadable password manager. If you tend to use the same password over and over again, use a free password generator to come up with unique passwords a hacker cannot figure out.
Should you need help organizing important documents, please give us a call at 914-725-0343. Paäge et Cie’s professional assistance is designed to make it easy for you to organize every aspect of your life. We help you set up the right system, and are also available to help with ongoing document organization. Contact us today for more information!