Tips from the National Association of Professional Organizers

We're happy to announce that the National Association of Professional Organizers will join us on site at the next NBC10 Telemundo62 Great Shredder Event. They'll be there to help you with tips on how to get more organized and proven ways to stay organized. So bring any questions you have or just come up and say, "Help!"

Here are some tips you can use now from NAPO:

Open mail daily and decide if each piece is something To Do, To Read or To File. Everything else should get recycled or shredded. The idea with paper is not where to keep it, but rather how to keep it flowing so that it gets handled or filed!

  • Set up a basic file system – Active files are those you add to and pull from on a daily or weekly basis. Most people need a 2 drawer file cabinet. Color code files by category such as: financial, health, home, car, children's school & activity information, etc.
  • Make filing a habit. Make a weekly appointment (15 - 30 minutes) with yourself to empty your “To File” basket and file papers away.
  • As you retrieve information from a file, move it to the front of your drawer. 80% of what we file never gets looked at again. That way the 20% will be upfront and you can consider tossing the 80% you never look at. A good time to weed out is beginning of the year.
  • Make recycling easy – Purchase a nice bin for recycling. If it’s attractive enough to leave in your home and it’s close to the front door, you’re more likely to use it for mail, papers, kids papers from school, even boxes from the kitchen.
  • Take a positive step to be more prepared for NEXT tax season. Take ONE file folder and label it “Taxes 20XX” where XX is the present year. Put it where your most active papers are, and simply place anything tax-related into it as it comes.
  • If you have a lot of tax related papers, ask the person who does your taxes what is deductible? Make individual files to reflect those line items (Charitable Contributions, Medical Expenses, Investment Income, etc.) Once you file the return, keep all your tax back up together by year. As you file one year, shred the oldest.
  • Maintain at least 6 years worth of tax records. In reviewing your income tax, the IRS can “go back” three years. If they “find” something they can go back another three.
  • Create a "check monthly" pile for papers you think you don't need, but you aren't quite ready to toss. Check it the 1st of every month. The time gives you clarity. Most of it will end up in recycling, but taking this step will give you the confidence to let go of things you really don't need to keep.
  • Use the 3-ring binder method for keeping track of children’s essential paperwork. Encourage children to take responsibility (usually 3rd grade and up) for their binder. Use dividers for their activities such as school, sports, music, etc. Kids love the idea of using the 3 hole punch on a daily basis, plus it is getting them ready for an organized future.
  • Know that horizontal filing is a filing system. Try Pendaflex PileSmarts for containing each project in a color coded 8x11 plastic folder which can be labeled. Labels make all systems easier to use.
  • Scan sentimental items (poems, cards, etc.) and include them in a digital photo album then discard the paper.
  • Use self-adhesive address labels to fill out forms and rebates and to mark school supplies and lending items (serving dishes, tools, cd cases, etc.)
  • Make a file for “Contacts” and toss in all business cards, napkins with names & numbers, and envelopes with new return address info. Go through once a month to add contacts to your address book or phone then throw out the paper.
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