Managing Home Bills and Documents

One of my least favourite jobs is catching up on my filing and paperwork. If I was a little more disciplined I wouldn’t let it mount up – I wait till the “To Be Filed” tray is full – but it’s such a boring task and I can always find something more interesting to do.

Part of the problem has been that my filing system was just too cumbersome. I had a couple of folders for bills, three for different bank statements, one for tax and so on. As various bits of paper arrived, I’d sort them and put them into their folders. It sounded good in theory but as soon as stuff mounted up a little the effort it took to get things sorted was too great as I’d need to pull out a stack of folders. So I put off, it accumulated more, the task became bigger and… well, you get the picture.

Recently I decided on an new approach – one folder per year. I grabbed a set of dividers from the local stationery store – the kind that provides for a dozen different sections – and divided the paperwork. This approach has two significant advantages for me

1 – It’s easier as everything is filed in one place. When a new piece of paper comes in I have one place to put it.

2 – Under Australian tax law, I’m obliged to retain certain records for five years. Now, at the end of their retention period I just need to empty one folder. Under my old system, I’d have to got through several folders to get rid of the papers.

A recent Dear LH asked about how to organise piles of paper. I’ve always preferred putting things into boxes rather than piles but getting the “box” system right eluded me till recently.

There was a time when I used a filing cabinet but that was way too messy and difficult to find things. I prefer binders and I think this new approach, of having a binder per year, makes staying organised easier. I’ve recently added a multifunction printer with a sheet feeder to the office so I’ll probably digitise from the start of the next financial year.

What’s your approach?

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