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  • Writer's pictureMJ

4 simple steps to panic-free paper organization

February is Archive Your Files Month, and a perfect time to get organized for tax season. It's also an opportunity to review the papers you’ve kept and determine if they are needed, or if they can be recycled, tossed, or put through the shredder.


If just the idea of tackling your files sends you into a panic, follow these four simple steps:

Step 1: Decide what can be tossed

Let go of any documents that are outdated and just taking up space. Also, items such as manuals for products you no longer own, old magazines, catalogs and newspapers, coupons and old receipts, take-out menus, used calendars and planners, phone books, and more.

Step 2: Store what you need

Keep short-term action items (e.g., a bill to pay, papers to sign and return to school), and reference items (e.g., flyer for an upcoming sale) at your desk or in a desktop file box.


Keep papers that need to be archived (e.g., tax forms, insurance documents) in a file cabinet or container kept in a closet, basement etc.


As you are reviewing items, think about whether you really need the physical paper. Do you have the piece already stored electronically, or can it be obtained online when needed?

Step 3: Safeguard important paperwork

Make sure to store important papers in a fireproof box or safe at home, or in a safety deposit box at your local bank.


Typical documents include birth, death and marriage certificates, passports, adoption papers, deeds, titles, Social Security cards, wills, powers of attorney, divorce decrees, loan documents, property appraisals, and more.

Step 4: Review regularly

To keep your paper files under control review them at least once a year. With a regular file review in place, you will find you can locate items quickly and have ample space for incoming documents.


Finally, remember to always consult your accountant or attorney for record retention guidelines that are specific to you and your legal needs.

Hate organizing paper? Visit or contact me at (608) 345-1836 for assistance.


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