Organize Your Personal Paperwork this Year – Project Plan

Welcome to a new year of organizing strategies! Like a lot of people I work with, you may have several organizing projects in mind for this year. January is celebrated in my profession as ‘Get Organized Month’, so now is the time to make a plan for getting those projects accomplished.

I’ve adopted a specific theme this year to help bring clarity to the management of personal paperwork, a common organizing challenge. This theme is DOCUMENT, and the strategies I share in successive posts will be specific to tasks and systems that help us bring order to our document systems, and low maintenance ways to organize and document important information.

documents Unlike some organizing projects that are one-and-done tasks (like setting up a closet system), and may be considered secondary to managing daily life, organizing paperwork and maintaining personal record keeping is the most important function of a household (IMO).

The best designed systems require only occasional maintenance to keep them updated, once populated with current information. If you feel burdened with information overload and out of date piles and files, working with a plan to clarify the most important items will offer these benefits:

  • Reduce stress
  • Free up mental energy to meet other goals, and most importantly
  • DOCUMENT what needs to be shared with loved ones at the appropriate time

I’ve created a project plan for organizing and maintaining personal paperwork, a challenge to many households (and small businesses).  pathAs you cycle through the suggested organizing projects, spread out project tasks over the month to enable enough time for planning, scheduling and completion.  This format also creates a system that can be repeated in successive years on a clear schedule, and offers a low maintenance approach to fine tune documents and systems as information or needs change.  Enlist your partner or another family member to share tasks, especially if that person has a legitimate need to be informed on the topic.  This helps reduce the amount of time involved in gathering information and transfers knowledge for effective communication.

Project 1Update active and reference folders (paper and electronic) for the new year

Project 2Gather and categorize tax paperwork and documents

Project 3Update your password file

Project 4Organize electronic files by reviewing and removing unused data

Project 5 – Create a personal financial inventory and check your credit

Project 6 – Create and/or update a home inventory

Project 7 – Review estate planning documents for gaps (what’s missing?)

Project 8 – Create and/or update master information file (what, where and who)

Project 9 – Prioritize or discard languishing projects, choose 3 for completion

Project 10 – Brainstorm and draft personal project goals for next quarter

If you think this project plan will help you get your documents in order and complete personal goals, check back monthly or subscribe to this blog feed (click on RSS above) to get tips and strategies for each project, by month.

I’ll share information on best practices,  useful products or applications (physical or cloud based) and strategies to design systems that will be easy to maintain.  If you have a resource to share, I’d love to hear about it!

Best wishes for a productive new year!