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Paper Flow

 

This episode is all about paperwork! Join Bonnie and Lily as they discuss the bills that need to be paid, the forms that need completing and how and where we should store our filing. Learn about the simple but effective systems to make actioning your paper a breeze, so you will never pay a late fee again! If you’re bogged down in junk mail and magazines, or can’t remember where your birth certificate is, this episode is just for you!

SHOW NOTES

 

TRANSCRIPT

BONNIE: Hello and welcome.  Today we are going to be talking about physical paperwork

LILY: Boo!

BONNIE: Ayeee, yes I feel your pain.  We are going to talk about the different kinds of paper we all have, the ways it enters our home, plus learn an amazing simple system to make sure you never miss a bill deadline again.

LILY: Woo!

BONNIE: We will also let you know what systems we use in our homes to stay on top of our paper flow.

LILY: That’s right we will take you from boo to woo.  I don’t know what’s going on with me. I don’t drink coffee but I am just feeling really jazzed to be talking about paper, which is funny because paperwork absolutely sucks.

BONNIE:  It so does, it is so true.

LILY: So with paperwork this episode is going to dive into how to address it and make your life better because paperwork whether we like it or not is a part of our daily life and is constantly entering our house.  A few weeks ago I ordered a package on line and you don’t even think about that. Like I ordered a play mat for my son in fact I did a little video of it and through it up on our Instagram about how paper enters the house even in really subtle ways and the box when I opened it up had instructions on how to clean it, it came with this little motivational card.  So when simple things like that even come into your house, you have to sit down and make a decision about what you do with paperwork and if you don’t have a system in place it become overwhelming really, really quickly.

BONNIE: If you don’t have time right then and there you make that decision of I will deal with that later and then of course your future self goes oh thanks very much past Bonnie, why did you do that, because now I have this huge stack of like packaging and papers that really if I had of just made a decision at the time it all would have gone into the recycling bin anyway.

LILY: Yes I guess I have a little confession of my own, I have a little pile of paperwork on my desk at the moment, so I have a tiny little desk.  It starts the way it always starts. You put one thing down and you go like I am going to get to that and it is just one thing and then before you know it the next day it is a second thing and its like oh no I will get to those at night, and then it’s a receipt and then it is something else and before you know it, this stack has been sitting there for a few weeks and I just keep putting things on top of it.  Being like no and then I move the stack around the room

BONNIE: Oh you are shuffling?

LILY: Ah yeah I am a shuffler, so I pick up the stack and I am like, no, you know what I am going to put it somewhere where it is so obnoxious an annoying that I have to deal with it.

BONNIE: I love that

LILY: But then I will move it from that spot when it is obnoxious and annoying.  And so this pile, I am thinking about it and it is still sitting there and it is annoying me but I have convinced myself that I am too busy with other things to stop and address the pile and then continue on my work

BONNIE: Well you know what your homework is this week don’t you?

LILY: Yeah I think I do

BONNIE:  Ok so lets talk about the different types of paper and how they come into our house because there are lots of different types of paper and people can get really hung up on, oh but I don’t have that type of paper, everybody has got paperwork.  It just comes in s many different forms.  So it might be mail that comes in a letter, so snail mail, it might be emails that people are printing.  Like maybe you feel like having it in digital form it not actually good enough so you print it out as well.  So forms and scripts is another way that paper comes in, like maybe you are going through a medical thing at the moment and you have got some medical forms that you need to fill out or like for us at the moment we are filling out some OT forms for our Miss Four and oh my gosh they are lengthy.

LILY: That’s occupational therapy right?

BONNIE: Occupational therapy, yes.  So there are those sorts of forms that come in.  You get notices from school, from Kindy

LILY: Yes excursions and all different kinds of things

BONNIE: Yes like every time there is a tuckshop day at Kindy they send home a form and then there is an envelope to send the money back for it and so like there are all these different ways and you think about if you go a conference or if you go to a work event or some sort of Expo

LILY: Expo’s I think are a bit one.  I went to the Eco expo last year, you know you have your bag and people are constantly handing out pamphlets and brochures and things and I am looking at this information and thinking, I am not going to use half of this but there is something that you also think, oh but I just want to hold on that bit of information.  Suddenly I have got like a bag full of stuff and I comes home but then where does it go?

BONNIE: I think it is that fear factor why we hold onto things because it is that whole what if there is that one piece of information that will change my life, and especially if you are someone who say you are going on that eco journey and you want to be better at the eco life you might think I have to hold on and I have to read thoroughly all of this information and all of these pamphlets because I want to do better and what if the one thing that gives me that ah ha moment is in there.

LILY: And the point is with paperwork is the reason paperwork is such an issue for so many people is because paperwork is important.  There is often important information in your paperwork but what we need to do with that information is file it appropriately so that when we need to know something we can access that information really quickly so that it doesn’t overflow and clutter our house so paperwork is always going to be a problem so today we are going to talk more about how we can address that.

BONNIE: One of the things that is really important when people have paper come into the house is to actually do a quick sort first and a quick tip,  if you are getting snail mail, get rid of the envelope, get rid of the pamphlets, the PDS, all those things that come with it because they are all online.  No one is going to read them anyway. Like who has the time to read the PDS.  I mean really

LILY: Mmm I know we should read the PDS on some things though.

BONNIE: Yeah you totally should, none of us do it. Speak to your accountant about that, but if you get rid of the envelop and you get rid of any of those pamphlets that come, you have already gotten rid of 50-75% of the clutter that has come in with that bill.  So that is already reducing what you have to deal with by a significant amount and I think the next thing that is really important is actually work out with all the papers that you have in your house, what kind of category does it fit into? So is it an important to be actioned category? Is it leisure? So something you just want to read like a magazine?  Is it something you need to move into record keeping?  Or is it something that is part of a project like you are about to build a new house so you have got plans that have come in or engineer drawings that need to approved?  So I think if you sort it into one of those 4 categories it actually helps you make a bit more of a decision about what you should do with it.

LILY:  So if you are at home and you are thinking, I don’t even know where to begin with the paperwork like Bonnie just said, simply start by dividing it into those 4 different categories to then further then sort it.  Do that first stage of sorting so important to be actioned, leisure, record keeping and projects.

BONNIE:  And the other thing about paperwork that is kind of like a bit of light bulb moment is that your paperwork actually needs to be further divided into short term and long term filing.

LILY: That is such an interesting idea

BONNIE: You have got all this stuff that comes in, okay I need to pay this bill, I need to return this excursion form, I need to take that script with me to that place.  Those are the things that you need to do something with, they are papers to be actioned in someway, and then you have the long term filing which is I don’t actually need to look at this anymore unless I need to apply for a loan, or unless I need identity points, or something like that, so that is where you divide it into, lets have a system for our short term papers and lets have a  system for our long term filing and once you do that, that’s like oh yeah of course, it makes a whole lot of sense.  Lets talk about long term storage.

LILY: Mmmhmm

BONNIE: So what does everybody think of when we talk about paperwork and storage.

LILY: A filing cabinet.

BONNIE: Mmmm a heavy, rusty hard to open

LILY: wow

BONNIE: Filing cabinet

LILY: Is it in a dark room, is there ominous music in the background?

BONNIE: There is cockroach poo for sure.

LILY: The filing cabinet I think it is something that you could argue both sides of whether you need a filing cabinet today and I, this is going to be divisive but you and I are both pro digital so we like to put everything that can be online because…..

BONNIE:  You are giving away our secrets, we are suppose to save that for later

LILY: Ooh, oh my. Um well we will just call that a bit of a teaser, but no truly like with a filing cabinet you don’t need unless you are in unique circumstances, you don’t need a mega filing cabinet for a bunch of stuff.  Yes there are documents we do need to keep physically but you would be surprised at how little space those actually take up, those documents.

BONNIE: But the ring binder is a second system  and this is actually one that I probably prefer because I just feel like it is easier to see everything and I love that you can colour code ring binders.

LILY: Oh on the outside

BONNIE: Yes, so say you have a business and then you have got personal stuff you can colour code and say okay, all my business stuff is going to be green, all of my personal stuff is going to be yellow or blue or whatever and then you can see at a glance, okay I need business stuff so I am going to pick the green folder and you can do the same thing for your kids, so if you say had a ring binder for each of your kids, cause they have a lot of paperwork, you could say okay this kid is green, this kid is blue, this one is purple and it just makes it so much easier visually for your brain to make that connection, of yep that’s the colour I need.

LILY: That is interesting, I am a very visual person but I actually prefer the filing cabinet draw

BONNIE: Why is that?

LILY: I don’t know, something about the ordered system with the tabs on the top

BONNIE: Is it about seeing the labels do you think?

LILY: And then you pull it out and then I can physically handle all the paper maybe, maybe its quite a tactile thing, but I don’t know, putting things in and out of sleeves and ring binders and things like that, or hole punching it is not my jam.  When I was younger and this is just something that I think actually is a good long term filing system for teenagers especially is when you first start working and you first start getting identification and paperwork, you don’t have a whole bunch.  I think and expander file works really well for them

BONNIE: Yes, yes

LILY: And this is maybe where I like developed that like for that system because I originally started with that system, because it is really visual but it is small and contained and if you move you can take it easily with you I suppose as well but yeah just that kind of system works really well and I think that is something that if you are trying to sort out filing for a teenager they can be totally accountable and responsible for their paperwork.

BONNIE: And you know what, those expander files are really good as well for the school years, for like your school reports and stuff, so if you want to give your kid their school reports as part of their memory box or something when they move out, you can actually use that expander file and so okay, this is prep, this is grade one, grade two lets have the reports for that year in there, maybe put the school photo in there, maybe a couple of pieces of art work or memorabilia and then at the end of grade 12, its like here you go there is your school folder.

LILY: So we should talk about the pros and cons of using each of these options.

BONNIE:  Yes, so I think for a filing cabinet, um it’s that seeing the label thing that you talk about is a pro definitely, con is definitely the rusty factor

LILY: They take up a huge amount of space

BONNIE: Yeah they do

LILY: And that also comes down to our number one thing that you do before your organise is declutter first.  Right, do you actually need 3 draws?

BONNIE: And you know what I find they always do a really awful screeching noise when you move the files around

LILY: I feel like we are opening up some trauma here for you

BONNIE: Yeah I don’t know what it is, like

LILY: You need to be around better filing cabinets

BONNIE: Oh yeah but like most of the clients we work with have got old, old filing cabinets

LILY: Yeah, yeah and look but I do really feel there is a place for a filing cabinet, I can tell it is definitely not your jam.

BONNIE: I can tell you love it, and that’s cool man

LILY:  I don’t love filing cabinets, I am just not anti filing cabinets

BONNIE:  Do you have one next to your bed?

LILY: No we don’t, but we actually have a filing cabinet and I couldn’t even tell you what is in it.

BONNIE: Ahh so homework no 2

LILY: I have already got tasks on my plate this week…

BONNIE: So ring binders, the pros are definitely visually it is easier to see and they are easy to grasp as well and you can get thin ones and all that sort of stuff

LILY: If aesthetic is really important to you as well and your filing system is exposed, I think ring binders are beautiful because you can make it look really pretty in your space

BONNIE: Yes you can

LILY: Pretty and functional and that’s what we like

BONNIE: There are so many colour options, so if you didn’t want to colour code you could actually just say okay well I have got a mustard accent in my room, so I am going to pick yellow ring binders to go with the yellow mustard accent that I have in my décor.

LILY: Yes for sure

BONNIE: Totally Ikea would love it

LILY: And then the expander file, the pros and cons there, well I think depending on where you are in your stage of life, if you have only got a small amount of paperwork or you are using it for a set filing system it can be really handy to use something like that

BONNIE: Mmm definitely, the other thing that a lot of people ask is how long should I keep my paperwork for and if this is you and you feel like your holding onto things because you don’t know how long you should hold onto them for, our advise is to actually ask your accountant or your tax planner or your financial advisor, otherwise look at your local government website, so here in Australia we have the ATO and even on the ATO website they actually have a disclaimer that the advise is general in nature and that you should check with your tax planner

LILY: The ATO has that?

BONNIE:  Yes, the ATO has that.

LILY: Oh! Everyone is trying to cover their bottoms

BONNIE: Everybody is trying to do a bit of covering, um and so are we, so we are not telling you to get rid of anything, if you don’t want to get rid of it until you have talked to your personal tax planner or your financial advisor.

LILY: Yes if you are currently incinerating all your paperwork, just feeling really inspired please stop….  Abort mission

BONNIE: Make sure you know what you are getting rid of

LILY: So the other thing to think about with your long term storage, like we have given a few options here is, you simply just need to pick a system for your long term storage and then stick with it

BONNIE: Yes, the real problem comes when we try ring binders and it doesn’t work for whatever reason, probably time wise and then we decide oh well we will get a filing draw because that’s what people do and then oh we might try this expander file, or we will just have this stack of paper in a box. You know we will get one of these big archive type boxes that we use for our archiving and we will put our paperwork in there

LILY: And I think that comes down to the decision making, like it is hard, you are committing to a system and it is hard to know what is the best system for how to store my paperwork and so you do just keep dabbling in different things and then it ends up being quite messy and overwhelming.

BONNIE: Yes, if you are going to switch from one system to another that’s fine but make it intentional and get rid of all the stuff from the old system, because when you have got things spread out over a couple of systems then you are in a real mess and that is when you end up going I don’t know where this should go anymore.

LILY: So lets talk about short term storage options

BONNIE: Yes so I love the short term storage options, um we have got a thing that we call the daily paper flow draw at Little Miss Organised and I talk about this one a lot when I do workshops and everybody goes “ohh I love it” and the great thing about it is you can really adapt it depending on what your circumstances are.

LILY: Mmm Mmmm

BONNIE:  So this is basically one of the systems that you can implement and it is not the only system, so if this doesn’t work for you there are a couple of other systems that we will talk about that you can try but it is basically a desk organiser, so it is a five draw organiser

LILY: Like they are often in plastic

BONNIE: Yep plastic draws, I like the clear ones

LILY: I was about to say clear is good because you can see what’s in them.

BONNIE: Yeah and then it goes a bit nicely, like some of the ones that you get from the cheap stores you know they are really bright crazy colours and if bright crazy colours are your jam, like go for it

LILY: But if you want that like, neutral aesthetic in your office this is good

BONNIE: So grab the five draw organiser and then stick an in-tray on the top and there you go, there is your system ready to go with a couple of labels bam you are ready.  So in-tray is obviously where everything comes in, so when you put the mail that has come in, the excursion form, the tickets for the opera, all that sort of stuff.

LILY: So yeah not on your coffee table, not on the mantel, not where the keys are, not on the kitchen bench, not on the dining table, everything goes straight into that in-tray

BONNIE: Yeah even your receipts.  So if you are someone who stuffs your receipts into your pockets or your wallets or whatever, pop it into your in-tray as well and then your first draw is like your urgent to do, so this is the very important I need to make some action on this in the next couple of days sort of thing, and the thing that I do when I go through my in-tray is I will actually have a highlighter and I will highlight okay this bill needs to be paid by this due date and it is this much and if you are super organised you might even add yourself a reminder to your smart phone

LILY: Yeah in your calendar

BONNIE: Yeah so that you have added that as well, making these tools work for us not against us

LILY: Yes

BONNIE: So that’s your first draw, then your second draw is your non urgent to do, so this might be oh there is something coming up at school next term so here is a note about it but you need to keep the note because you need to take the note back or something like that.  So that is more like your projects draw, so your non urgent to dos.  Then your third draw is your to scan or to file draw. So if you are digital and you don’t have time to scan stuff straight away, this is the draw where you put things that you are going to scan or if you are a physical paperwork person this is where you put your filing stuff that needs to be filled.  Now the most important thing is what happens when that draw gets full.

LILY: Mmmm Hmmmm, its filing time

BONNIE: That’s right, this is not mother natures way of challenging you to see if you can squish 5 more pieces of paper in before it breaks and that’s what a lot of people think it is, I can just get one more piece of paper in here arrrh

LILY: But it is a boundary, it says up until this point you have got time on your, you know time is on your side, you don’t have to deal with that right now but you will have to soon as it builds up and up and up and then eventfully you cant fit anymore in and that doesn’t mean we just start putting things around it, it is cue, it says okay this weekend or even today if I have the time I am going to make time, I am going to address that.

BONNIE: Yes that is exactly right, so then the fourth draw is the to read if time draw, so this is where the leisure material goes in, the magazines, the parenting articles, the pamphlets that came from the expo, that kind of stuff.  This is the stuff that we read once we have done all of our work, because we need to do our work and then get our reward afterwards.

LILY: What’s interesting as well is if you keep a lot of things in this leisure draw over a period of time and you know that they are in there and you realise you don’t actually read them, did you actually need that clutter anyway?

BONNIE: That’s exactly right and it is so interesting just like the to file draw, people will let the leisure draw build up and build up and they know that they need to actually read through it but they don’t actually make the time or maybe they really don’t want to actually do it so I encourage people, well just pick one thing out of the draw everyday and as you are lying in bed at night read one of them and then you can discard it or do something else with it if you need to action it.

LILY: It all comes back to being intentional.

BONNIE: Oh it definitely does and then the last draw is the upcoming events draw. So this is where you put the tickets to go to the opera or to whatever event you are going to but you don’t want to carry them around you with your dairy.  You need them to be safe, you need to know that when you go to that medical appointment you have got that form that you need to have, like how bad is it turning up and they say oh have you got the form

LILY: Have you got your referral?

BONNIE: Yes and it is like

LILY: Oh yes it is on my desk

BONNIE: Sorry about that.  I have always, not any more but I use to really struggle with where do I put those referrals, like do I put it next to my car keys so I remember to take it, do I have it my car.

LILY: Since having a baby especially I am trying to think of all the extra things I have to take everything I leave the house

BONNIE:  Yes

LILY: I feel so accomplished if I only forget one thing now, instead of forgetting nothing, I’m like well done, you know I have compromised with myself on that front

BONNIE: Progress not perfection

LILY: Exactly right.  So one of the things I want to mention about your system which I love this whole desk organiser, I think it is really practical and I can see why people have that ahha moment because we are all looking for something simple, the paperwork has come in and I know I need to get to it.  I know there is important stuff in here, I know I probably don’t want to address some of this stuff, I know I will have to eventually, what do I do with it.

BONNIE: Desk organiser is perfect.

LILY: One of the things I would point out, is especially when you are talking about the draw, that does the important bills and things to pay.  Some of us are really visually and once something slides into a draw it is almost like we are sliding it into a part of our brain where we know, it is likely we will forget it because we are not having it out the part of our brain

BONNIE: Its like it has been filled about

LILY: Yeah and this is where it is important to find something that works for you.  So if your going to use a filing system like this and you know that you would have that tendency to not hold onto that or even like when we talk about the mental load a few episodes ago, you want to be having springing up less space in your brain then you yes your definitely need to be incorporating a system on your phone to remind you for bills.  So if a bill comes in and you are highlighting it and you are writing on it and you are sliding it into that draw if you are not the type of person who can remember that that bill is in there and needs to be paid put a reminder in your phone. Honestly it is one of those things that where it is you know will we do easy now, hard later.  So just enter it into your phone so that you don’t have the hardship later on of going oh crap I am paying a late fee now.  I think that is why a lot of people like corkboards and things like that. Like I am actually really like that, if I know something is due to be paid, seeing it up there reminds me that it needs to be paid but I actually visually don’t like it.

BONNIE: Because it looks messy and It is like another reminder of oh I have to do that.

LILY: Yeah and also it is kind of like, when you think about the psychology of it, when you are constantly walking pass things that have like to do’s on it, it can be hard to switch off and go into leisure mode at home.

BONNIE: This is why you should never have paper work in your main bedroom, because how can you rest in there  and have intimate times with your partner, when you are looking at the bills that need to be paid.

LILY: Relax in there, unless paper work gets you going and I am yet to meet a person like that, that’s for sure.  So that’s just one system anyway.  So like this is the system that you use and you have seen work for many many families but there are other options out there as well.

BONNIE: So yeah if you are that more visual person, doing something like that magnet board or the pinboard, I don’t like pinboards because pins are sharp and especially with young kids they are a bit of a swallowing hazard and stuff like that, so I much prefer a magnet board because I think it is safer.

LILY: You can make magnet boards really pretty as well

BONNIE:  Yes, yes that is very true.  The other thing you can do is like a vertical desk file, so it is like one of those wire stands that looks like you should be able to put your cookie trays in there and you use manila folders to kind of do the same sort of thing, so that is another option as well.

LILY: I love those on a desk, yeah

BONNIE: And then of course the favourite of many people is the leaning pile of Pisa.

LILY: Oh the old I will get to it.

BONNIE: Yes yes

LILY: Or you just watch it and see mmm how much can I stack on this pile

BONNIE: It’s a bit like when you have got the recycling bit that’s full and you don’t want to be the one to empty it and so you just think if I can just stuck this one last think on it and it doesn’t fall over I don’t have to take it out.

LILY: Oh does that happen everywhere else too

BONNIE: Yeah Yeah it is not just your house.

LILY: That has happened in literally every house I have ever lived in so I think

BONNIE: It’s a thing, its real.

BONNIE: So it is time for this weeks  Clutter confessions, but when we come back we are going to talk about what to do with receipts, how to dispose of sensitive documents properly and what systems Lily and I use to keep on top of paper clutter

CLUTTER CONFESSIONS

ANONYMOUS CALLER

Hi my clutter confession is that I collect animal sculls and bones, with these I decorate my home and I have recently discovered that I enjoy painting them and yeah it is pretty common place where my husband I we live on a farm rurally and it is just a good way for us to honour the animals life.  So that’s my clutter confession.

LILY:  That’s a really cool clutter confession.  I have had some people in my life who are artistic like that, where they take basically animal remains and make things out of them, so I have a really cool pair of earrings and they, a friend that I lived with in New Zealand, she is an amazing artist and she works with beads and string and makes beautiful jewellery and when a porcupine in the states would get run over she had like a certain time window for which she would pluck the quills from it, because if you leave it too long then the quills are no good and also it is pretty rank

BONNIE: I am slightly grossed out already

LILY: I know, anyway so she pulls the quills off and she was such a, an amazing artist and she cleans out the inside of each quill because they can actually hollow out and then she weaves them into jewellery with beads and things like that.

BONNIE: That is like your ultimate recycling and repurposing.

LILY: Right

BONNIE: Yeah, that’s cool

LILY: Upcycling with animals.

BONNIE: And I really like the fact that they are celebrating and honouring the animals lives in such a cool way.

LILY: Yeah so we want to hear your clutter confessions, anything weird, wacky, wonderful, any item in your house that you have held onto that other people might go oh that’s a little bit weird, that’s a little bit odd we want to hear about it.  Jump on over to our Facebook page Little Home Organised Podcast and all you need to do is just send us a message on the page, so you just hit the message button and send it as a voice message and then we will get to play it on the podcast and don’t worry we keep it anonymous.

MUSIC

BONNIE: Okay so we are going to keep talking about receipts now because receipts is one of the those things where a lot of people really struggle, what do I do with them and how long do I keep them for, where do they go, all that sort of thing.  So I want to know what do you do with your receipts?

LILY: Me… well I have actually got a pretty great system in place for receipts and that is they go digital, straight away baby

BONNIE: Everything though, like do you do your $10 supermarket receipt.

LILY: Ah no, I don’t keep those

BONNIE: Ok

LILY: Is that what you mean as well

BONNIE: Well like it is a receipt.

LILY: It’s a receipt.  Okay so basically it goes into two categories, bin or important.

BONNIE:  Ok

LILY: Basically if I think a receipt is something that I may need to, you know I have brought a piece of clothing and I think oh, just in case I need to do something with this receipt, then I need to make it digital and if not and if it is just my grocery shopping, then I just chuck it in the bin.  Because to be honest like if something happens with your grocery shop and you were to get home and go I don’t have this item, or this item is already mouldy and I didn’t know when I brought it or something like that, the shops are great like you can take it back and be like hey big supermarket chain this product is not up to standard and they will go, no worries we will replace it and I don’t think you need a receipt necessarily to do that so for me when I come home I chuck it.  Also fuel vouchers depending on where you shop a lot of them are automated onto the rewards cars that you have for that grocery store so you don’t even need to keep them to get cheaper fuel necessarily depending on where you shop and were you live as well.  So that is another reason why that goes in the bin and then if I need to keep it because of the just in case, then it goes digital and it goes digital because if it is important especially if it is a big ticket item I need to have a copy of that receipt but more importantly receipts fade.

BONNIE: Oh yes

LILY: And if you don’t have a good filing system and even if you do, even if you put it inside a container inside a draw, depending on the quality of the ink and the paper that that is used it will fade

BONNIE: It is usually a year

LILY: And I guess like a little tangent to go on as well, just really briefly is that there is actually chemicals that are in those papers that are not great for us and that we touch with our fingers and go into our skin so that’s like another reason to be handling them as minimally as possible, so do your shopping, get your receipt, scan it and then ditch it and the way I scan it is I have drop box which is like an online cloud based filing system and all you do is literally open the app, hit the scan button, hold it over the top of your receipt, hit the capture button and it turns it into a file like you have done it though a fancy printer, it is so simple.  You write your file name and you click save wherever you want to save it within your filing system on your phone. Done.

BONNIE: The other thing I wanted to talk about is what to do with the papers we don’t need anymore. Especially because they have got sensitive information on there and despite what a lot of people think about cloud storage and online storage and things like that making us more vulnerable to ID theft and stuff like that, the studies actually show that people rifling through your bin is still the most prevalent for ID theft and stuff like that, so that makes it even more important to make sure that you are disposing of your sensitive stuff carefully

LILY: The correct way, yeah. And don’t let this put you off either,  don’t let the oh I want to sort my paperwork but I don’t know what to do with all the stuff if I do go digital or if I do downsize, like don’t let that be the barrier that stops you because it can be really simple and even if you get it all sorted and up in a garbage bag that is a big step towards decluttering your papers

BONNIE: Yes and I do have a solution for the people who are freaking out about their sensitive data being shredded or ripped up and that is an ID stamp, and it is so simple like it is a $10 device you can buy from a stationary store and it basically rolls over, like you would one of those kids inky roller stampy things, that was a really good description wasn’t it

LILY: Oh yeah I got there

BONNIE: Yeah cool, so you use this ID stamp and you basically just roll it over once or twice over the sensitive information, your name, your address, your credit card details what ever it might be and you cant read it anymore. It is completely blacked out, it is like when you get your pin number for your new credit card and it is has got all the funny

LILY: Oh okay I have never heard of this

BONNIE: The letters and stuff, oh I love it, I keep it in my apron, my work apron

LILY: So it is blank, you are not putting more information on the page

BONNIE: You are putting a stamp on the page, so it is a rolling stamp of

LILY: Like painting over it

BONNIE: It is random like letters and squiggles and stuff

LILY: Okay at first I thought it like had your address and information on the stamp and then you would just really claiming the paper by rolling your information on it even more and I was thinking I don’t know if that defeats the purpose of shredding it

BONNIE: And it is better than using like a sharpie or a Niko because you can still kind of read through those because it is all just one kind of constant colour but with the ID stamp the way that they are designed it is just putting bit here there randomly and so you can’t actually read any information underneath it anymore.

LILY: I mean for $10

BONNIE: Yeah

LILY: If that’s something you are concerned about, do it.

BONNIE:  Yeah it is really worthwhile.  They are a great investment and I think once you have set up your paperwork systems you only really need like 5-10 minutes a day to maintain it and this is the biggest thing, like people get really overwhelmed with the thought of decluttering and organising their paperwork but once you have actually got the system set up it is really super easy.

LILY: No one is denying it is a big job to get paperwork sorted when you know have got 20 years behind you of stuff.  There is no doubt about it but once you do it properly it won’t be overwhelming anymore. It can be something that you just put in the maintenance hours and it will change your life.

BONNIE: Yeah that’s right, you invest the time in laying the foundation and then the actual maintenance side of things is really quick and easy.  And lastly I want to talk a little bit about what we do ourselves.

LILY: Yes

BONNIE:  So have eluded a little bit to how you do your digital stuff, but obviously there are something’s we still need in physical form, so what do you do with those papers?

LILY: My paperwork systems are really poor and the truth behind that is I have been living overseas and so what I would do is I would pack all my documents into a document wallet and I had like 4 different document wallets, different colours and they contained different things, it was like my stuff, my husband’s stuff, important documents, so like visa’s and passports and things like that and then like more of like a memorabilia style one but it was for stuff that I want to travel around with, so just like leisure papers and things like that, but since coming home and this is where my excuse has to stop at the front door you know

BONNIE: How long have you been home?

LILY: Nearly a year, I haven’t set it up and I haven’t like changes and found like a system that really works for us here.  So everything is still in those wallets but it is just kind of growing and they are growing outside of the boundaries and the zones of those wallets.  I am not happy with the system because it is not easy to go through, like it so much simpler to go through a filing cabinet.  It is so much simpler to go through a binder than it is to pull a bunch of stuff out of a document wallet and like feed through it, because you think it is in that one and then find that it is not even in that folder anyway so my paper system is actually not great and it is something I definitely am looking to get on top of.  What about you?

BONNIE: Well let me share what I do and maybe that will give you some inspiration. So I use to do the desk organiser thing but since going digital I don’t actually need even need that.  So it is awesome because like you I use drop box and so I just scan things on my phone as soon as they come in.  I have got one in-tray so that is in my desk, I have got this cool desk with this little hidden draw that I just have an in-tray in there and any stuff that comes in that I don’t have time to deal with right there and then goes in the draw and look no one is perfect, life gets in the way and there are times where it is like oh I have got this huge stack of stuff in there or where there are times when I have actually put stuff on top of my desk instead of in the in-tray or I bring things out of the in-tray on a day that I need to work, so I am like so these are the things I need to address first before I get into everything else.  So that in-tray is really good because it keeps it all in one place, it doesn’t really explode all that sort of stuff and it is manageable.  I with using drop box will scan stuff as soon as I can. So like for example two nights ago I went out and had a networking meeting and there were some receipts from that and I scanned them in this morning because it has been a busy kind of 24 hours.  So stuff is getting actioned fairly quickly which really really helps.  Everything else is digital, so personal businesswise we have been digital I don’t know for like 7 or 8 years businesswise.

LILY: It makes a huge difference doesn’t it.

BONNIE: It is so much better and personally we have been probably digital for about 5 years.  So a lot of our bills come in through email, a lot of our bills are actually automated and we will do an episode on money management down the track because I think when you are organised with your paperwork it makes it a lot easier to manage your finances and stuff as well but a lot of our stuff is automated and so I will just be getting statements in an I will save them into the digital folder but we still have physical stuff so we have this folder called the grab and go folder which has got the important documents in it. So this is the one that has our birth certificates, our marriage certificate, our kids birth certificates, our passports, my uni degree, tafe courses that my partner has done, anything like that.  There are also a couple of ID point type things, we have got a few things that have our names and our address on them, that it is for physical paperwork.  So once you go digital you really don’t need a lot.  It is life changing.

BONNIE: So what I want you to do this week for your tidy task is to set up your system, so your short term system, your long term system.  We have talked about lots of options.  I want you to pick what works for you and stick with it and set those systems up.  Then once you have got the system set up for your short term and for your long term and for your receipts you need to spend 10 minutes a day going through your current paperwork.  So whether you have got the leaning pile of Pisa or you have got a filing cabinet or you have got some ring binders just spend 10 minutes a day sorting out and culling your current paperwork to fit into your new systems.  That’s it.

LILY: So Bonnie can you give an example of what someone might do if they were wanting to set up their long term system this week.

BONNIE: So if you want to set up your long term system this week and you said okay I want to do ring binders, you might go and purchase those ring binders and decide I am going to have one for personal, I am going to have one for business and then I might have one of an investment property that we have and you would write down your labels for each of those, so personal you might say okay we need to have utilities, we need to have medical, we need to have you know important documents which might be like marriage certificates, birth certificates that kind of thing any other, you might have one for the house, one for the vehicles that kind of stuff.  So write those labels down and then basically do the same thing for your business and for your investment property write down the sub categories and then you have got your folders set up and you can either hole punch straight into the folder or you can slot into your plastic sleeves.

LILY: That’s it for this weeks episode, thank you so much for tunning in, we know how busy life can be and we really appreciate you guys lending us your ears

BONNIE:  And remember progress not perfection.

LILY: See you later, bye.

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