How many of the following papers could you find in one minute?

-Birth Certificate
-Closing documents for your home or rental agreement
-All supporting documents for taxes
-Record of most recent subscription to a magazine or newspaper
-Most recent social security statement

By the way, that was one minute for all of the documents, not one minute per document!

If you can't find at least one of those quickly, it's time to reorganize your files. It's a task few enjoy, but when it comes to important documents, you'll soon be glad you can find them easily and quickly.

To organize your files, create a Home Information Center (HIC). There are several steps to do this.

First, you must determine where you are going to process paperwork. This might be your home office, but it might be a corner of the dining room or other space. Just be sure to choose a place you don't mind spending time. In some cases, you might have one location where you initially process the paperwork and then a second location in which you complete associated tasks, or both activities might occur in the same place.

Regardless of where you complete the paper processing, establish a work surface, file storage, and drawer or basket filled with basic supplies so that you don’t waste time looking for necessary supplies. If you do the initial processing in one location and the final processing in a different area, make sure to determine how paper flows from back and forth between the places to ensure that nothing gets lost or forgotten.

Next you need to establish a system for what happens when paper enters your home. Here are some ideas to consider:

-Have a child bring in the mail. A four-year-old can divide the mail into “envelopes” vs. “non-envelopes” to make it easier to go through quickly.

-Throw away as much as possible without even opening it.

-Have a designated place for magazines and catalogs and put them there immediately.

-Open mail and highlight or red-line important information. Process as much of the paperwork as possible. Establish time in your schedule to complete any remaining tasks.

While this sounds odd to some, it really prevents those stacks and piles from building up in random corners around the house. It also cuts back on that "lost bill" panic.

Also, remember that establishing new habits takes a little time. Don’t let dealing with piles of paper distract you from what really matters in life!

Author's Bio: 

Developer of the Flexible Structure Method™, Janice and her team at Minding Your Matters® has an impressive reputation for helping clients achieve “flow”. “Flow” as Janice calls it, is the blissful state of having an organizational process that supports your life and lifestyle. A Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Janice is also a Certified Organizer Coach and the author of “Get Organized This Year!”. Janice’s practical and caring approach to organizing is the basis of her high-content live workshops and webinars. Janice is a Golden Circle Member of National Association of Professional Organizers and Program Mentor Coach for the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. She serves the organizational needs and challenges of both business and residential clients, as well as provides training intensives for fellow organizers nationwide. To enjoy meaningful tips and gain immediate access to all of Janice valuable resources, please visit her website To schedule a consultation or request Janice to speak please call 919-467-7058.