Even though our world is trying to move in the direction of using less paper, one of the problem areas in most homes still revolves around the storage of paperwork, specifically in the home office. Fortunately using the right type document organizer can help improve this area of your life. Of course you also need to find a good system for using it on a regular basis or an organizer itself won’t be very useful.
What Type of Organizer Is Best?
It is important to shop for document organizers that will fit your personality and lifestyle. It has to be something you can pretty easily incorporate into your life or you may not use it at all, or as well as you could. Take some time to honestly evaluate your current habits to determine what type of document management system would work best for you and your household. Of course to improve organization you may need to be prepared to adjust some of your habits too.
For many people the best way to adequately organize documents and receipts is to have a two-step filing system:
- Step One: Collect receipts and documents. Get a portable paper organizer that you can take with you when you’re out and about, or find another safe place to keep your receipts.
- Step Two: File your receipts and documents in a long-term document management system. This system can be paper or electronic depending on your preference.
A Document Organizer is Key at Tax Time
If you want to take advantage of all the business and personal deductions available at tax time, it’s crucial that you use a tax document organizer. So which type of document organizer is best? It depends on your purpose and preferred method of filing. There are a few different types of document storage and organization systems available, as well as digital document management.
With the right file organizer you’ll be in a much better position to track down records and receipts that will allow you to deduct as much as possible on your tax return.
Portable Document Organizers
There are several types of portable document organizers; you’ll likely find yourself using a few different styles depending on your system and your needs.
- Travel Document Organizer – Travel document organizers help keep all the necessary documents and paperwork together when you travel. Quality organizers should have a place for a passport, boarding pass, pen and receipts. Some also work as a wallet and provide storage space for identification, credit cards and cash.
- Portable Paper Organizer – You can find these in several styles. If you’ll be in a situation where you’ll be gathering letter or legal sized documents, be sure the organizer you use will accommodate that size paper. Many professionals find that zippered binders or accordion organizers work well.
- Desktop Document Organizer – If you work in a busy office, you may want to have a desktop organization system that you integrate with a longer term storage solution.
The most common long-term paper storage solutions are filing cabinets or file boxes. For best results, be sure to file by date as well as by subject so that you can archive or destroy paper documents once they are no longer needed.
Find time on a regular basis to take your documents and receipts from your portable organizers and get them filed into your long-term document management system.
Go Electronic With Organizing Software
If you have limited space, or if you’re looking to streamline your document filing processes, why not consider document organizer software? Instead of filing your documents in a file cabinet, you scan your documents instead and store them digitally using document management software or another method of digital filing.
More people are choosing an electronic document organizer of some sort to manage their files. The benefit of electronic files or online document storage is that these electronic files don’t degrade over time and they don’t take up valuable physical storage space. Also, finding those elusive business receipts and personal documents is quick and easy when you have them properly named and organized.
The only drawback to electronic document management is the time it takes to initially scan in your paperwork. If you have significant amounts of office or personal files that need to be scanned, you should consider investing in a document organizer scanner with an automatic feeder. When shopping for a scanner, look for a bundle that includes document organizer software as well.
When using an online document management system you also need to be diligent about security, especially for files containing personal information including your social security number or bank account information. There are many effective ways to safely store documents online you just need to take precautions to insure they are secure.
Document Organization Pays Off
They key home office organization and to getting the most deductions is to keep track of all your expenses and receipts. With a streamlined filing process you’re more likely to remember your expenses and have the proof to claim them on your return.
The small investment required to get a document organizer or two and to set up a good document management system is well worth it when you consider the tax savings you will realize and the time you will save looking for paperwork._____________________________________