We all struggle with organization. An unordered universe tends toward chaos unless we intervene. But if you can organize your home office area, you can free up lots of time, save money on late fees and make life much less stressful! Here is a simple method you can use to organize yourself:

  1. Create a space. The first thing to do is lay claim to an area that is exclusive to your home office needs. Pick your spot – and put every scrap of paper on it into a single bin.
  2. Create a filing system. You can start by using one of those accordion-style files available at Staples or any office supply store. You can also invest in a desk drawer filing system or dedicated filing cabinet. You choose. The most important thing, though, is that you get started.
  3. Assign key categories. Everyone has different organizing needs, but most people need files dedicated to the following categories:
  • Automotive
  • Insurance Policies
  • Investments/Retirement
  • Savings/Banking
  • Tax Documents
  • Debts/Promissory Notes/Mortgage/Lease Documents
  • Home Expenses (You need these to track your tax basis in your house if you own it.)
  • Expenses
  • Education
  • Children
  • Legal Records
  • Warranties and Product Registration
  • Coupons

    4. TRAF it. Go through every piece of paper and apply the TRAF method. That means every piece that you have must be Tossed, Referred to someone else for action, Acted upon by you, or Filed. Hence, the “TRAF” method – a concept invented, so far as we can tell, by Stephanie Winston, author of “The Organized Executive.” Once you start in on the bin, don’t stop until you have completed the whole thing. Every document you have in there should meet its ultimate fate at the end of one of those paths.

Once you start, don’t stop until you have gotten through the bin – and don’t put documents back in the bin to deal with later! Put them in a pile right away for referral or action. And then follow through!

 

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