If getting your papers organized is one of your New Year’s Resolutions, the time to start is now! Most of us start off the New Year full of inspiration, but we often lose motivation and by February our resolutions are a past memory. This year, don’t let time slip by. The sooner you get started the sooner you’ll be able to achieve your goal. Imagine how good it would feel to achieve one of your New Year’s Resolutions this year!

Did you end 2018 overwhelmed by paper? Has mail and holiday catalogs has piled up in various places? Maybe you shoved it all in a closet to clean up for family or visitors over the holidays. Have you’ve missed bills and deadlines because of misplaced documents? If this sounds like your 2018 year in review, you are about to get a reprieve. If you spent 2018 in paper mire, then why not get it out of the way for 2019? Get ready to declutter and put a new filing and paper management system into place. Doing it now will help you cruise through 2019 with organized ease.

The New Year offers a new start on things, but also an end for others. Most resolutions get put off, only to end up on next year’s list. Change the trend now and you won’t have it hanging over your head for the rest of the year. Plus, now is the time to get your tax papers in order, so you won’t be rushing to do it in April.

January is always the month where I empty my files and start anew. The beginning of the calendar year is the ideal time for this. I know it doesn’t sound as fun as binge-watching Netflix during those dark and cold winter nights. But, get it done now and you’ll have the rest of the year to do that! You can still have Netflix on in the background, or better yet, put on some motivational music to help get you through the project.

Here’s what you need to do to make 2019 the year of the organized paper system:

First, gather these supplies:

  • A bulletin board
  • Two trays or baskets large enough to hold paper
  • A paper bag or bin (to put next to the door where you enter with the mail)
  • Bags for trash/recycling/shredding

Here’s what to do:

  1. Sort through all your paper and get rid of any junk mail and other unnecessary paperwork.
  1. Create three places for action items and do the following:
    • Place all bills to be paid into one tray or basket labeled “Bills to Pay”
    • Place all items to be dealt with on the bulletin board in full view indicating “To Do”
      • Note: if you don’t want to put up a bulletin board, another basket will do.
    • Place all items to be kept into one tray or basket labeled “To File”
  2. Start with the bills and work your way through the piles, tackling each action item. Be ruthless! Toss and recycle as much as you can.

What to do with school papers and artwork:
Sort it and let it go! Keep only the favorites and store them all in a bin. Label each piece with your child’s name and the year.

Having trouble letting go?
Keep in mind that very little paperwork need to be kept. It’s true! Most of it can be recycled or shredded. Keep only the bills, receipts and related paperwork you need to file your taxes. This is a great time to locate and organize all your necessary tax paperwork, so you’ll be ready for tax season!

To maintain your system:

  • Get rid of junk mail and unnecessary paperwork immediately as it comes in.
  • Follow the steps above on a regular basis to stay on top of paperwork.

Do this in January and keep this system in place throughout the year and you will change the trend for 2019 and stop that terrible feeling of being overwhelmed by paper.

2019 is your year for paper organization! Happy New Year!

By Sarah Buckwalter

Certified Professional Organizer®

Sarah Buckwalter is a Certified Professional Organizer® with over 18 years of experience in home, move and office organization. She is the founder of Organizing Boston. Organizing Boston is the largest professional organizing firm in New England and was awarded Best of Boston Home™, Best Professional Organizer.

Nationally recognized as an organizing industry expert, Sarah shares her expertise through speaking, writing and on television. She is a regular guest blogger for nationwide companies and has appeared several times on the hit series, “Hoarding: Buried Alive” on TLC.

Sarah also runs Organizing U. Organizing U is an online training platform focused on business development, to help Professional Organizers and small business owners achieve their dreams of success.