You’ve resolved more than once to start doing paperwork on time. Each time, you begin with the best of intentions, but when you look at the piles of papers, you freeze. Can’t face doing paperwork? Here’s help.
I’ve used the following “paperwork pointers” successfully with clients of Personal Money ManagerSM who faced the same challenge:
Prepare in advance: get some organizing tools.
There’s nothing like having the right tools for the job. Instead of adding to the clutter, I encourage clients to start with any basic tools they already have—bins, stapler, markers, sticky notes. Then, fill in essentials like heavy duty file folders, a shredder so you’re fully equipped to handle the paper organizing task.
Focus on the newest mail.
After all, the older stuff, a mix of both valuable and shred-able papers, will wait. In fact, it’s waited this long! Try putting the older piles of paper into bins and out of sight for now. Just looking at the accumulation can be discouraging and make the task undoable. Set up a new “landing strip” for new mail and commit to handling it as it comes in.
Use a simple sorting method.
This is a technique I often use with a new client. We’re going for progress, not perfection. We sort papers into bins labeled “shred,” “recycle,” and “important/look closer”. Even if you don’t have a lot of time now, it’s a way to make a dent in the task. And, no need to backtrack when you are next able to get back to sorting.
Break down the task into smaller chunks.
Handle just one pile of papers at a time. Here’s a trick I learned from a colleague—label each pile with a number starting with #1. Pace yourself and process each pile in order from one to . . . infinity?
Face your paperwork anxiety (with some assistance).
Does danger lurk in those papers? Could emotional “stuff” be keeping you from processing your paperwork? Afraid of what you might find? Bills or notices you would rather avoid? Or, do the papers date back to a time or event that you’d rather forget? If so, your issue may not be with ALL papers, but a specific pile.
Can’t face doing paperwork? It may be best to put those papers in one bin to be handled with outside help. Then reach out to a financial organizer / daily money manager for help dealing with them. A professional brings to the task both skill and a commitment to confidentiality — without the baggage that may be holding you back.