RA-RA for Organizing Paper!

CheerleadersOh, you don’t cheer when you’re organizing your piles and files of paper? Well, neither do I. But over the years, I have learned a few things that helps me keep it contained and under control.One of the biggest mistakes made when trying to organize paper is not considering how the information on it will be used {or not}. This is where the “RA-RA” comes in…Read, Action, Reference, Archive. These four different types of paper require different categories, containers and locations throughout your home. I know it can be overwhelming to take in too much information at once. So, for today’s post, I’m going to focus on the four different types of paper. Also, keep in mind that these four types readily apply to digital information.

Read– Papers you need to read should be stored according to how and where you read. I have magazines, catalogs and other quick reads on the end-table in the living room for flipping through while I watch TV or if I have a few minutes {which rarely happens these days}. Longer articles and current books, etc. live on my nightstand for reading before I turn in for the night. You can also keep a poly-folder for storing on-the-go reading to take with read while waiting to pick up your child or at doctor’s appointments.

Action– Papers requiring an action and/or decision should be grouped together, preferably in a home office but a desktop file is a decent alternative. This should be quickly accessible and ideally, live at an arm’s length if you have a dedicated office desk.

Reference– This is the type of paper that you or your family members need to refer to on a regular basis, usually daily or weekly. Reference paper can live in binders or in desk file drawers.

Archive– This type of paper is something you need to keep for legal or tax purposes but do not need to refer to often. This includes: tax returns, supporting documentation, legal documents, real estate purchase documents {once the transaction is complete}, etc. I keep mine in two bankers boxes in a closet.

There is, of course, a bit more you need to know to be successful at organizing paper but let’s call this the first Pillar of Paper Management {yeah, I just made that up.} For the next week or so, as you are dealing with paper try to assign it to one of the four types. Feel free to leave a comment if you have questions about which type specific paper falls under.

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