On Managing the Paperwork

Folders Showing Organising Documents Filing And Reports

So now that the taxes are done (well, OUR taxes are done…are yours?) I find myself overrun with paperwork. You know, all the files you’ve been filling for the past year? They’re all full. Your filing cabinet is full. And now you’re throwing 2014 in with 2013 and everything needs to be reorganized…but where are you going to put all those extra papers?

Allow me to make a suggestion: invest in a good scanner!

It’s really as simple as that! This time of the year, I take our files (one at a time, so I don’t get overwhelmed) and I scan them all digitally onto an external drive. They’re added to the rest of the years of files I’ve done the exact same thing with. All nice and organized, right where I can find them.

This makes future endeavors much easier, believe me. For instance:

Last week it suddenly dawned on me: Oh my goodness, I think we’re behind on the immunizations for the cat!  (Which really isn’t good, since she gave my hubby a pretty nasty bite a couple weeks ago…LONG story…not really the cat’s fault…**SIGH**) Anyways, I was already on the computer, and in about 2 minutes flat I had located her medical files and called the clinic to schedule her an appointment for shots. (She’s gonna be SO ticked.)


But the point is, I didn’t have to stop what I was doing, go dig through the filing cabinet, search for her folder and then find the paperwork I was looking for. It was all right there on my drive. I had named, filed, categorized and cross-categorized the digital files, so all I had to do was a quick search. Document found and opened in just seconds!

Sure, it takes a little bit of work at the beginning of the year to scan, but it’s totally worth it in the end! Oh, two more tips:

1. BACK UP WHATEVER DRIVE YOU’RE SCANNING TO. You don’t want to lose any valuable documents!
2. SHRED ALL THE DOCUMENTS AFTER YOU FINISH SCANNING THEM. No need to have any identity theft to deal with!

So what about you? How do YOU manage your paperwork during this season?

90 thoughts on “On Managing the Paperwork

  1. I have folders but this scanning business is such a much better idea. Don’t know why I didn’t think of that. I have papers everywhere and it can be a mess at times looking for stuff. I’ll have to invest a good one as you mentioned. I’ve seen one on TV a few times, can’t remember what it was now but I’ll be sure to pay attention next time.

  2. Such a great idea! Cab’t believe I didn’t think of it (well, actually I can!). I’m not sure I’m brave enough to shred all the tax papers, but other less sensitive stuff (we have cats too :)), that would be so easy…and I already have a scanner! Thanks, I’m gonna get to work on this!!

  3. Lucky, we just moved and my tax documentation is in a box somewhere I hope. I think we are going to have to file an extension this year because I do not see us making the deadline. Once we do get them done though, I will be scanning and shredding. I hope to keep a better digital track this year so we do not go through this again.

  4. Nicola,
    What helpful advice! As a writer, I am constantly overrun by papers, critiques of my work and I can’t bring myself to throw anything away, so if I can scan my official paperwork onto an external drive, maybe I’ll get a handle on things. I’m going to ask my friend if she’ll help me with this. Thank you for this wonderful advice!

  5. This is one of my goals for 2014. It will be a big job, but I’ll do it the same way I would eat an elephant (if I wanted to eat one, which I do not). The cat picture makes the entire article.

  6. You’re a smart girl! And using the external hard drive is awesome. Anyone who has ever lived through a hard drive crash would know! Good advice!! Love your kitty in the basket 🙂

  7. Yes, our taxes are finished!!! Feels good! =) I love the idea of scanning everything. It makes so much sense! We also have an external hard drive which we keep everything important on. I am terrified of my computer crashing and losing all of our pictures and other important things!!!

  8. Good idea! And yes my taxes are done, I submitted them on April 14th! That’s how we are funding that patio building in the backyard. 🙂

  9. Mine are all dumped in a big bin……..Just a few weeks ago, I went and organized them all! I now have them in smaller bins by type. But I was hoping to find some kind of other workable system. I love your system..it makes a lot of sense. Maybe I should try this. What about the loads of mail you receive? How do you control that? BTW: love the cat story..too funny!

    • Ah, the mail. My goal is to take action on the mail on a daily basis. If I don’t make it on a daily basis then I need to do it once a week. Right now I’ve got about 3 days worth of mail to take action on 🙁

  10. I usually let my husband manage our paperwork because he thinks he is a great filer/organizer, but we lose important papers all the time! I definitely need to start e-filing a lot of stuff.

  11. I keep the important ones in a file folder and then get a new one for the new year. We really do.’t term to have that much paper work to keep. Or I just do.’t keep things I should be keeping.

  12. I’ve said this year I am going to be better at keeping track of paper work and keeping everything in one place – so far so good (though not that far in lol) x

  13. All I heard from this post was “This cat is awesome.” Seriously, look at that cat. Awesome. I want one.

    And thanks for the great tax tips, as always.

  14. Oh how I’d love a good scanner. I have one at work and it’s so valuable for so many reasons. Did you do any research on scanners before purchasing? I’m curious what brand you use at home, it sounds like you’re happy with your choice. Would love to have your recommendation 🙂 (a future post maybe ?). I am a clutter bug but LOVE my electronic gadgets.. this would help me cut back quite a bit on the piles of paper I am always rifling through!

  15. I hate managing paperwork. I recently read about a great program or app and I think I am headed to doing it that way. Scanning and filing and making sure it is backed up. Sounds like the best way to do it in the long run.

  16. I really need to just get a good scanner. We have a printer/scanner, but it’s in my mom’s office (she lives with me). Not very convenient! Supposedly my computer can use its camera to scan documents, but I haven’t quite figured that out yet.

  17. Scanning your paperwork is definitely a great idea! I’ve been using Shoeboxed and I’m absolutely loving it!

  18. Actually, I retain the paper receipts with a copy of the returns (federal and state) for a minimum of three year. Why? If you have ever been audited, then you know why The auditors ask for the original documents. Just before I put the tax stuff in the file, I remove the oldest years stuff and scan that to CD for storage, only retaining the CD-based copies. I keep copies of all of this on a CD with everything that was done in that year — especially for business returns and for returns that have capital gains items in them. I also use a scanner, but the original documents are retained until I know we are out from under the risk of an audit.

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