Feature Article: Creating a Functional Archival System
During the past year, I’ve come to realize that one of the most challenging areas of the home to organize and keep organized is the Home Office. It should come as no surprise since the majority of calls we receive are to organize Home Offices. The real validation received comes from the many book signings and discussions I have participated in for my book “Eliminate Chaos…The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home & Life.”
“Eliminate Chaos” contains six real-life case studies of projects that were completed for the book. At each book discussion, I ask for a show of hands to determine which chapter we should discuss. Consistently the number of hands to discuss the Home Office chapter outweighs all of the other chapters – combined. Whether your Home Office is a dedicated space in your home, a corner of your kitchen or a shared space in another room of your house – there is one thing they all have in common: the need for an archival system for files that are not currently needed, but must be kept.
Here are a few reasons why you might want to set up an archival system
Your current filing space is not large enough to hold current and older records.,
A life event such as a divorce or death in the family has resulted in a lot of extra paper work that you need to keep, but do not need easy access to.
You want to keep all tax returns and supporting documentation together but do not need these taking up valuable space in your filing cabinets.
Can you think of other files that you do not need access to on an on-going basis, yet still need to retain? If so, these files are also candidates for an archival system.As you begin to gather documents for your tax return, spend a few minutes to assess your current storage and what you are storing. Could you benefit from archiving some of these records and freeing up some space for new files you’ll add to your system this year?If the answer is yes, here are a few tips that will help you:
There are two types of files that are typically archived – those that you can attach a “destroy date” to and those that you can not. An example of something with a destroy date might be your tax returns and supporting documentation.
If you need assistance determining the length of time to keep certain documents, refer to IRS Publication 552 (Record keeping for Individuals). For business records, consult Publication
583 (Starting a Business and Keeping Records) and Publication 463 (Travel, Entertainment,
Gift and Car Expenses) from the IRS. These documents are available at www.irs.gov.
Clear plastic banker’s boxes are an excellent choice for archiving files that no longer fit in your everyday filing space. You can purchase these at your local office supply or organizing store for about $12. These boxes can accommodate letter and legal files. You can also use hanging files inside the box. I prefer these to the cardboard type – as they last longer and hold their shape.
Create an “Index.” This list is something you could store on your computer or in a hanging file in the front of your filing drawer – to help remind you of the files you need to remove on a yearly basis. This will help you free up space for the next year.
When selecting a location to store your archived files, consider the climate in your area. Many choose to store these files in a basement, garage, attic or storage unit. The last thing you want to have happen is for your files to become wet, moldy or have rodents chew through the box! (Yes, I’ve seen this happen!) This is just one more great reason for storing files in plastic, rather than cardboard – you’ll be glad you spent the few extra dollars.
If you have a lot of files to archive, consider breaking them down into categories and using one box per category. For example – you may choose one box for taxes, one for paperwork related to a divorce, one for old client files, etc… By labeling each box on the front, it will be easy to locate the box, should you need to access it quickly.
Do yourself a favor and resist the urge to pull files out of your existing system and archive them without taking a quick look. Could you be archiving files just to free up space? If the answer is yes, you’re better off to determine now if you really need to store them or not – it will be easier to make that decision now, rather than in the years to come.
Ensure that family members know the storage location of the documents you have archived – just in case they need to access them.
If you are one of the many that dread this time of year when it is time to prepare your taxes, you could spare yourself a lot of headaches by keeping your files organized during the year. This will help you cut down on the amount of time it will take you to prepare your taxes. If your filing system is full, now is the perfect opportunity to create the archival system – to free up space, so you have room to store the 2007 records.
If you are looking for a self-contained, easy to use tax organization system – you may want to consider purchasing the Captio TaxCase. This year-round binder has checklists and resources for managing your taxes and provides you with a place to store documents needed to file you return. The binder can be used year after year as you can print free refill pages.
Whatever method you choose to implement for archiving your files and for organizing taxes – I wish you fewer headaches and less stress!
How many times have you said “I’m too busy for [you fill in the blank].” Could it be that you really are “too busy” or could it be that the activity is not a priority. Choosing to live an organized life is about setting priorities and realizing that you can never do everything on your list! Don’t beat yourself up over that. Instead, choose what is most important to you. If you are trying to organize an area of your home or life, you will need to make it a priority by scheduling time in your day for this activity. In the end, you’ll be glad you did as you enjoy some of the benefits; such as being less stressed, less overwhelmed and more in control of your life!
Organizing & Customizing With Microsoft Outlook 2003 - February 13, 2007
How much time and money does your company waste because information you need is not at your fingertips or organized in a way that is easily retrievable? Stop wasting time and money and learn how to use Microsoft Outlook as a tool to help you manage your time and information. Learn simple tips that you can implement immediately that you will wish you'd known years ago!
Your Investment of $247 Includes
6 hours of classroom instruction - taught by Laura
Laura's 130+ page Organizing & Customizing with Microsoft Outlook 2003 book ($29.95 value)
Lunch & Coffee Service
Click here to register today. Class is limited to 15 participants. Must register by 2/8
January Office Organizing Makeover - Winner Selected
The winner of the Movin 92.5 Organizing Makeover from Eliminate Chaos and IKEA is "Dawn."
Dawn truly needs and is deserving of an Office Makeover, along with a fresh start for 2007. 2006 was a rough year for Dawn. She lost both her mother and grandmother to cancer, then she lost her cat and before the year was over, she lost her job. He office became a dumping ground, due to all of the life events that happened and she could no longer function in this space. We are excited to work with Dawn to help her transform her office space and give her the fresh start she needs - which will help her be able to find a new job and continue to grow her home based business.
In a future newsletter, we will share with you the pictures of this Office Organizing Makeover.
February Closet Organizing Makeover - Enter to Win
Eliminate Chaos has teamed up with IKEA to offer you a Closet Organizing Makeover. In fact, over the course of the next several months, we will be offering you the opportunity to win several organizing makeovers; including a garage and kitchen!
To submit your entry after Feb. 5th click here. Hurry - you only have a couple of weeks to enter!
Not sure what to give that loved one? Don't want to give them any more "stuff" they may not need or want? Gift Certificates make a great gift - enable those you love to take control of their time, their space and their stuff. Contact our office for pricing. 425.670.2551
"A big thanks to Julie and Terri for helping us to clear our clutter from our workshop and craft area in an effective, easy, non-judgmental way. My husband was blown away by the transformation, and we are liberated by the extra space and less "stuff". Thank you again, EC!" -Joyce and Marshall Rafferty - Seattle, WA .
A great way to try us out and get some organizing done at the same time! For a limited time, we are offering an amazing NEW client organizing special. If you are not an existing client this is a great way for us show you how we can eliminate your chaos.