The Organizing Blog urges you to do a little bit of #decluttering every day, except when it comes to financial documents. The IRS asks that you keep tax returns and supporting documentation for three years after you file, meaning you should still have all of your 2015 paperwork on file today. If there was a year in which you weren’t required to file, document the circumstances and keep the proof indefinitely. Other “forever” paperwork includes loan documents and payoff confirmations; divorce, child support and alimony papers; and birth certificates, Social Security cards and military discharge papers.
Many readers of the Organizing Blog are now gathering up all of their W-2s, receipts and bank statements in order to file their income taxes. And many are likely finding that their offices and desks leave a lot to be desired when it comes to #organization.
If you’re like most people (busy), chances are that you’ll have to shuffle multiple stacks of papers or go on a last-minute hunt for an essential document when any deadline approaches. And even if you’ve gone all-digital, those pesky stacks of papers somehow still form on top of your desk.
Simply being able to locate what you need when you need it can pay for itself quickly in terms of time and perhaps tax savings, too. That’s why it’s time you organized your desk and office or home office for maximum productivity.
The first step in any #organization push is a good #decluttering. Purge the office of any inactive items, Lifehack says: “Declutter, empty, shred, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Look around. What haven’t you used in a while?”
Once the clutter is gone or at least diminished, establish work zones and stock them with the appropriate equipment. Label drawers and file all inactive folders out of sight. Create a temporary folder for work(s) in progress.
In the digital era, good filing extends to devices, too. Is your desktop cluttered with files you didn’t put away? Do you have hundreds of old or unresolved emails? Use 15 minutes of downtime every day to sort those into their proper places on your hard drive.
Stuff keeps coming in, of course, and if you don’t address it immediately, you can easily lose track of whatever it is. To handle this, Inc. recommends the classic two-tray system — an “In” or “New” box for new tasks, and an “Out” or “Old” box for anything requiring further action.
Inc. also says to get a bigger trashcan. “Because a large trashcan is more visible, you tend to think of it more often. When unnecessary paper comes into your workspace, you’re more likely to place it in the [larger] trashcan than to stack it in a disheveled paper tower of “No clue what to do with it.”
At tax time or any time, you can benefit by streamlining your workspace. Get your office organized now, and you’ll be better prepared for every project, presentation or accountant — and life in general.