I recently posted this tip on the Home Solutions facebook page:
Here’s an idea: before you file something away, ask yourself, “Why am I filing this? Do I actually need to keep it for anything?” If the answer is no, work on breaking that habit. It’ll save you time, and it’ll save space in the file cabinet. One good example for many folks is utility bills. Everyone files them, but nobody knows why.
When I present an organizing seminar, I ask folks in the audience, “How many of you file your utility bills after you’ve paid them?” and invariably, hands shoot up all over the room. When I ask them, “Why?” I am routinely met with a roomful of shrugs and quizzical looks.
Sometimes we do things out of habit without re-examining the reason, and the reason for keeping certain papers in our file drawers may be overdue for review.
Perhaps you keep utility bills because you take a home office deduction on your income taxes. However, you can see an on-line history of utility bills paid, so again, why keep the monthly statements?
I stopped getting utility bills, bank and investment statements, and car loan statements in the mail and instead, receive them all online. I reconcile my accounts and pay my bills online, too, so there’s no need for me to print these statements.
If that’s too far out of your comfort zone, how about keeping one year’s worth and shredding with the start of a new year?
When your year-end investment account statement arrives, it has all the information for the year and you no longer need the monthly or quarterly statements, right?
Once you see the transactions on your bank statement, you can shred ATM slips and deposit receipts.
At the end of the year when you get your W-2, you can shred your paystubs.
In my July 23rd blog post, I talk about receipts – which ones to keep and which to toss.
We are inundated with an onslaught of papers on a daily basis. If we reduce the quantity of what we get and what we file by eliminating things we’re keeping out of habit rather than actual need, it’s another small step towards organizing and simplifying our daily lives.