Organizing your papers may not at first seem scary. Other than a few cobwebs and dust bunnies, what’s the worst danger that can be hiding in the far corners of an attic or file cabinet? You may be surprised!

Does Danger Lurk in Your Paperwork?

Karen Caccavo Important Documents, Paperwork Organizing, Working with Clients

Caution tape around construction cones

Organizing your papers may not at first seem scary.  Other than a few cobwebs and dust bunnies, what’s the worst  that can be hiding in the far corners of an attic or file cabinet? Does danger lurk in your paperwork?

You may be surprised!

In my work as a financial organizer / daily money manager, clients have shared with me (or hinted at) lots of roadblocks that hold them back from being as organized as they would like to be.  Some of these roadblocks are fears; some are skeletons from the past.

Here are 3 paperwork-related “dangers” I’ve encountered, followed by some workable paperwork solutions.

Reluctance to face paperwork (and the associated emotions) from a difficult time in your life.

One client was avoiding papers related to her difficult divorce.  For another, paperwork related to a loved one’s death was hard to face, as was his passing itself.  Another didn’t know what to do with papers from a failed business enterprise.

For all of them, working alongside a financial organizer (rather than working alone)  helped.  I provided moral support, accountability and expertise (both mine and that of other trusted advisors).  The clients delegated to me what they felt was the most sticky aspects of these projects—starting with my requesting guidance on record retention from the attorneys and CPA’s they had worked with.  From there, we could plan what work needed to be done with the papers they had accumulated, envision the end result, and set a reasonable pace for our work.  After all, we wanted to make progress but also honor the feelings that handling difficult paperwork stirred up.

Perceived danger of “doing it wrong” – specifically, not knowing what to shred or toss.

How to be sure you’re not purging the papers you should be keeping?  To cut to the chase, here’s a blog post I did on shredding, with some basic guidelines.

Discouragement from past organizing failures.

The road to beautifully organized paperwork is often littered with half-completed projects and LOTS of unused or underused organizing supplies!  But don’t despair.  For those who reach out to me determined to get organized, hope springs eternal.  Some may be confusing “I’m just not organized” with psychological stumbling blocks in the way.  Or, maybe it’s time to adjust the goals or get assistance from a professional.  Some clients need assistance recognizing their strengths—what motivates them, their most productive time of time or day—all strategies they may not have tried before.

There are lots of reasons clients reach out to a financial organizer for assistance with their paper organizing.  One important role I have has nothing to do with actually sorting or shredding papers.  It’s to help identify and clear away the obstacles that block a successful path forward.

Photo credit:  ID 8025787 © Sunflowersister |