Don’t move that paper – get rid of it!

How to get rid of paper

If you’re getting ready to downsize – whether for a move or just to declutter – and you’ve lived in the same home for many years, one of your biggest headaches will be deciding what to do with all the paper that you’ve accumulated over the years.

Most people keep paper records far longer than necessary (the old “I might need it someday” story) simply because they’re afraid of getting rid of it. However, research shows that 85 percent of the stuff people file away is never looked at again! This is something I can attest to personally, as I have often helped clients go through file cabinets full of papers that they’ve never referred to even once since they were filed.

While it’s easy to let papers pile up over the years, figuring out what to keep and what to let go of can be overwhelming. Here are my tips for getting on top of the paper piles, so you won’t have to schlep them with you to your new home.

  1. Go through your files and shred old bills that are associated with your current home, such as utilities or landscaping. You can keep the current year’s statements if you don’t have online access to your bills through the company’s website.
  2. Do the same for credit card statements (unless you need to keep them for tax records).
  3. If you don’t have online access to your bank and financial statements, you can shred any that are more than 2 years old. If you really want to keep long-term records in paper form, just keep the year-end statements for each account.
  4. Make sure to keep records of any improvements you’ve made to your home since you bought it. Read here to see the difference between repairs and improvements, along with the latest tax laws on this topic.
  5. It’s generally agreed that you only need to keep 3 to 7 years’ worth of backup documents for tax purposes. Here’s a great article that tells you specifically how long to keep your tax backup. Note that none of it has to be in paper form, as the IRS accepts receipts and other documents in digital format.
  6.  If you have access to a document scanner (such as the Fujitsu ScanSnap), I suggest scanning any documents you might need to access in the future, and keeping them in a digital filing system on your computer (backed up!) or in the cloud. (I have helped clients create digital filing systems, including showing them how to scan paper documents and how to retrieve the digital versions.)
  7. Go paperless by signing up for online access for as many accounts as you can. Getting your bills and statements online not only will leave you with less paper to pack and move, but also will reduce the amount of mail that needs to be forwarded to your new address.

These are some of the fairly straightforward methods I use with clients to help them get their papers ready for a move.

Considering a spring move?
Learn how Order Your Life can help you or your loved ones move or downsize.

How the Order Your Life team can help

How the Order Your Life team can helpIt’s been a few months since my last blog post and a lot has happened at Order Your Life since then. We’ve been very busy and I am happy to report that we have added two new team members who have helped further expand the range of services that Order Your Life can provide you.

Shelly Trimble
Shelly Trimble brings her 15 years of banking industry experience to the Order Your Life team, where her attention to detail, natural detailed work flow, and ability to understand and support her clients’ needs, enabled her to excel in her career. In 2015, Shelly began organizing professionally, focusing on home office paper management. She can help you with paper-less office organizing such as:

  • Setting up digital filing systems
  • Automating bill paying and other record keeping
  • Setting up budgeting systems including Quicken and Mint
  • Going paper-less using the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners

Grady Catterall
My husband of almost 29 years, Grady is a Harvard University graduate in Applied Math, a former health care actuary, and the reason I know my way around an Excel spreadsheet. Grady brings his knowledge of finance, health insurance and mathematical analysis to Order Your Life in order to help you with:

  • Health care reimbursement filing
  • Making sense of health insurance claims for tax purposes
  • Bookkeeping and household employee tax preparation
  • Hauling items for donation or to the Montgomery County transfer station
  • Errands and other personal concierge services

Joanna Cady and Sue Crow
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this dynamic duo, longtime contractors of Order Your Life, and all they can do. They can help with:

Move Management and Downsizing:

  • Help you downsize before a move into a smaller home or senior living situation
  • Manage donation or sale of unwanted items
  • Help stage your home for sale using your existing furniture
  • Develop a room-by-room placement plan for your new space
  • Organize the move
  • Oversee the moving company
  • Unpack once the move is complete
  • Arrange items so that you start your life in a new home in an organized fashion

Home Organizing:

  • Declutter and organize closets kitchen, dining and living room, bath and bedrooms, closets, attic, basement and garage
  • Find an appropriate place for the things you can’t keep through donation or sale
  • Edit your space and rearrange rooms to make the most of your existing storage

Penny Catterall
I continue to work with clients both in person and remotely on ways to enhance their productivity at work and at home, as well as set up paperless filing systems using Evernote and Dropbox. I am also available for consulting to your small business to help you improve efficiency and productivity among team members. Please contact me if you need help with any of these services. We look forward to helping you Order Your Life!

Visit our “Meet the Team” page to learn more about our great team members.

What an Evernote Certified Consultant can do for your business

Evernote Certified Consulant

Evernote, the amazing information storage and retrieval app, is best known as a way to organize and find everything in your personal life using your computer or mobile device. I have written extensively about how I use Evernote here  and here.  But you may not be aware that Evernote can also help you or your team at work be more productive . That’s the main goal of Evernote Business, and the role of an Evernote Certified Consultant is to help you maximize your implementation of this versatile and robust product.

I recently completed comprehensive training through Evernote to become an Evernote Certified Consultant, one of only 170 in the entire United States and 3 in the state of Maryland where I live. The course focused specifically on training consultants to understand all the aspects of Evernote Business, and how to help clients choose, implement and work with it to enhance productivity in the workplace.

What is Evernote Business?

Evernote Business basically takes the best features of Evernote Premium – including virtually unlimited uploads of any kind of information, the ability to annotate PDFs, presentation mode, and business card scanning – and deploys it across a team or company.  This tends to be best suited for companies or teams of more than 3 people working on multiple projects who need to be able to communicate in real time and keep all types of business information from notes to research to files centrally located, synced and updated across platforms.

Some of the other main benefits of Evernote Business include:

  • Data continuity – Like the other versions of Evernote, Evernote Business uses a system of notes, notebooks and tags to organize information, but the information stored in Business notebooks stays with the company, even after the employee has moved on. Personal notebooks and any information in them stay completely separate and belong to the individual who created them.
  • Effective information sharing – Evernote Business serves as a centralized hub for everyone in the company to communicate and collaborate, making it easy to keep track of all team projects and to share and give feedback.
  • Simple account management –  Administrators have access to a centralized dashboard that makes it easy to add or remove users, share notebooks across team members, and measure contributions by team members to their projects.  Billing is centralized for all users as well.
  • Knowledge discovery – Evernote’s incredible built-in search capability allows users to find what they are looking for simply by typing in a word, and even searches other notes company-wide that might be relevant from other team members —both current AND past.

What Does an Evernote Certified Consultant do?

As an Evernote Certified Consultant, I can:

  • Help you choose which version of Evernote is best for you
  • Custom design workflows tailored to you and your team
  • Give you guidance on best practices for deploying Evernote across your company
  • Offer in-person or virtual training to get team members up to speed quickly

Over 20,000 businesses currently use Evernote to make them more productive. If you have a business that you feel might benefit from using Evernote Business, call me for a free consultation and get $25 off your first appointment before November 30, 2016.

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  • Did You Know…

    Getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40% of the housework in an average home? (National Soap and Detergent Association)

  • The average employee wastes $5251 a year in time searching for information. (ARMA International)

  • 28% of adults say they pay bills late (thus incurring late fees and interest charges) because they lose them. (Harris Interactive)
  • 80% of what we file is never looked at again. (The Leader-Post)

  • Employees spend 3.5 hours a week searching for information they cannot find. (ARMA International)
  • Americans waste 9 million hours a day looking for misplaced items.
    (American Demographics Society)
  • The self storage industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the United States commercial real estate industry over the period of the last 40 years.
  • As of year-end 2014, of the approximately 58,000 self storage facilities worldwide, 48,500 of them are in the United States.
  • Almost 9% of all American households currently rent a self storage unit (10.85 million of the 113.3 million US HHs in 2013).