Five simple categories to help organize your entire office!
Welcome to part two of the Official Office Summer Slim Down. Last week we focused on clearing the clutter from your office and getting rid of the excess (think of it as the dieting part of our project). Part 2 of our office shape up focuses on the whats, wheres, and how-longs of Things to Keep (it’s the muscle building part of a fit and toned office).
So here’s the boot camp part where you get to put your office through the obstacle course. Use these five guidelines, (compiled from Suze Orman, a few other sources and my years in the trenches) sorted by recommended time storage time and paper (original) or digital formats, to get your office in the best shape of its life – just in time for summer!
Before we dive in, in Part 1 of the Office Slim Down, I spoke to the importance of having backup on top of backup for your computer and I’m saying it again. Did I mention you need to backup? Ok! Here we go:
Keep Digitally for 1 Year
• Paycheck stubs. Get rid of once you compare your W-2 and annual social security statement.
• Utility bills. Just in case of billing errors. If you are using them for a home office deduction then make sure you have access to 3-7 years.*
• Cancelled checks*
• Credit card receipts*
• Bank statements*
• Quarterly Investment Statements. Hold onto them until you get your annual statement.
*Unless you need them for tax purposes and then you need 3-7 years.
Keep Digitally for 3-7 Years
• Income Tax Returns. Yes, even returns can be digital. Many accountants are filing this way and it makes sense. In terms of timing you can be audited for no reason up to three years after you file. If you omit 25% of your gross income that goes up to 7 years and if you don’t file there is statute of limitations. So keep returns accordingly. And always check with your accountant to get the details of your tax situation. Some accountants suggest keeping all tax returns, which is simple if they are digital.
• Sales receipts related to taxes
• Medical bills and cancelled insurance policies
• Records of selling a house
• Records of selling a stock
• Receipts, cancelled checks and other docs supporting income or a deduction on your tax return
• Annual investment statement
Keep in Paper Format for 7 Years
• Records of satisfied loans
Keep in paper format while active
• Insurance documents
• Stock certificates
• Property records
• Records of pensions and retirement plans
• Property tax records and disputed bills
• Home improvement records (for at least 3 years after due date for tax return that includes the income or loss on the asset when it’s sold)
• Store all car maintenance records with the title until you sell the car
Keep in Paper Format Forever
• Marriage licenses
• Birth certificates
• Adoption paper
• Death certificates
• Records of paid mortgages
Each January take a look through all of your digital files and streamline. With this workout, a commitment to continue the hard work and a short chat with your accountant, your office will always be healthy and fit.
Jennifer Palais clears chaos and brings order to offices, business systems, schedules and minds and is known as an organizing expert and coach. Her approach is 10-years in the making: Inspirational, well informed and practical. It is a process filled with fun, joy and discovery. For more organizing tips, follow her on Twitter.