two tall stacks of paperwork and files

Paperwork Challenge Day 5

Alright, you’re ready – let’s start sorting! Set your timer for 20 minutes and let’s do this. Take a handful of papers and look at the first one. What is it? Without spending ten minutes reading it through and worrying about it, give it a category. Is it something to do with your health? Stick it in the health box. A bank statement or some other piece of paper about money – maybe a credit card offer or a receipt? Put it in the box about money. Get a big picture assessment about what the topic of each piece of paper is.

If you start trying to act on each piece of paper as in comes up in this first sort, you’re going to get overwhelmed. Making the decisions and taking the actions comes later, for now you want to sort your papers in broad categories.

I gave you a few to start with – health, money, sentiment – but you’re going to have specific categories of your own. Maybe you just bought a house, so house paperwork is a good box for you. Maybe you’re running a business, so a separate box for business receipts, letters, and notices will be useful. If you’re working on a particular project, set up a box for that project’s papers. Tax refund? to collect all paperwork to get that refund from five years ago, college applications for all the catalogs and forms your senior has amassed, or photo albums, if you’ve got a bunch of old photos you want to organize.

Keep sorting each piece of paper into its broad category. When the timer rings, take a break and either stretch for a few minutes and then come back or call it done for today.

If you find something that seems like obvious trash/recycling, that’s what those empty trash and recycling cans are for. Grocery flyers older than a week or school notices from a couple years ago are good candidates. If you’re not immediately sure whether something can go, add it to the right box and deal with it later.

Aim for the broadest categories you can think of. Right now, you could put all the papers in a box labeled paperwork, this is narrowing it down just a little. A box should be fairly full, not just have a couple of papers floating around in it. If that happens, see if you can fold the papers into a broader category. If you start off with a box for each family member for medical, for example, and quickly see that you only have a few papers in each, put them all into the medical box.

Don’t overthink this. You’re doing great! I’ll see you back here tomorrow for Day 6.

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