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For a healthy mind, body and business

How to manage paperwork stress when you work from home

a man buried under a mound of paperwork holding up a help sign and flying papers in background.

They say death and taxes are two of life’s certainties. The third, I believe, is paperwork – and the clutter and stress that can accompany it. In fact, the inability to manage paperwork clutter is causing stress and anxiety to large portions of Gen Z and younger Millenials. According to a new study by paperwork filing app fyio, 81% of Gen Z and 84% of Millennials experience stress when they can’t locate important personal documents promptly. They released the research to celebrate Paperwork Happy Week (February 26th – 3rd March).

While much of our lives are now digital, we still have plenty of paperwork to organise: from paper bills, banks statements, medical appointments, insurance and legal documents, to your own notes and print outs you like to keep handy.

pair of glasses and pen sitting on paperwork
2H Media, Unsplash

The importance of managing paperwork clutter

Managing your paperwork is not just important for your state of mind and sense of organisation, it can also prevent you from losing money. MoneyWeek reported last year that an estimated £50 billion is currently unclaimed in the UK alone due to lost and forgotten paperwork while the Office for National Statistics estimates that savers have, on average, lost access to between £20 – 30k spanning various types of financial accounts including SIPPs, workplace pensions, ISAs, savings accounts, and premium bonds.

“Taking control of our paperwork is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and to start doing that in early adulthood is a gift for life. It’s amazing to think [Paperwork Happy Week] could grow year on year and help millions of today’s young people avoid staring into a black hole of £50 billion black hole,” says Sarah Wrixon, co-founder and CEO of fyio, which helps people store personal documents and manage paperwork clutter.

“Paperwork is a real struggle for people of all generations but what this research shows us is that peak paperwork stress hits younger generations hardest,” says Sian Pelleschi, President of APDO, Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers. “We know from our order restoring members that helping people declutter and take control of their paperwork is one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety and enhance mental wellbeing, and especially when dealing with the major upheaval in life like bereavement, it really helps to already be in control of life’s paperwork.”

YOU MIGHT LIKE: Organise your digital clutter.

Essential tips from Lifestyle and Organisation Coach, Jessica Barclay on how to implement systems to minimise and organise your digital clutter.

The full webinar replay is inside The Subscribers Lounge.

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Tips to manage paperwork at home

Sian Pelleschi, President of APDO, a not-for-profit volunteer-run organisation, says that when you manage paperwork, it helps you become more productive in your home and work life. Getting it organised now is a helpful way to clear surfaces ahead of a Spring clean.

Declutter

It’s important with any kind of organising that you declutter first. Go through all your paperwork and get rid of what you no longer need. Shred or recycle old documents, bills and any irrelevant paperwork. Keep only what is essential or legally required.

Categorise

Sort your paperwork into categories such as personal, business, financial etc. It will help to make it easier to find what you need when you need it.

Storage

Good storage solutions will help make storing and sourcing paperwork much easier. Consider what is easiest for you to use – filing cabinet, box-files, folders or even drawers can work. Consider colour-coding your files or labels so it’s obvious which is personal and which is work related.

Make sure you check out The Homeworker magazine for regular workspace design and storage ideas.

Go Digital

If you really want to clear up your physical paperwork, consider going digital. We often recommend using a secure app, where you can securely upload and share all types of paper and online documents to help reduce physical clutter and create peace of mind. Scan and file into folders or ‘drawers’ online and make sure they’re shared with the important people in your life.

Create a System

Make sure you create a system that works for you. It could be alphabetically, chronologically or by priority. Whichever way, make sure it’s intuitive to you and easy to maintain.

Maintenance

Schedule in regular time to review and organise your paperwork. Set aside times to review, organise, file away and declutter your paperwork so that you don’t have a build up. You could do this daily, weekly or monthly, it’s up to you to decide what’s manageable.

Desk organisation

If you are going to keep some physical paperwork, like bills that need to be paid or current projects, make sure you have the accessible storage solution to hold it. It will help stop piles of paper from accumulating on your desk. Just remember to file or dispose of the paper once actioned or finished.

Label

Clearly labelled folders, boxes and containers make it easy to see what you have and find what you need when you need it. It will save you both time and energy.

Review

Make sure you regularly review your filing system, whether it’s digital or physical, to check it still meets your needs and works for you. Make adjustments where required to account for changes you may have to make within your filing systems.

Check out our print magazine editions which include articles on managing paper, email and digital files to keep your space and head clutter-free.

Each volume also includes a workspace edit with home workspace organisation ideas and tips.

Shop print magazines

About the author

Louise is an award-winning journalist and speaker who focuses on working from home, remote work and wellbeing. She is the founder of  The Homeworker, which is dedicated to helping you thrive when you work from home. The Homeworker publishes articles that are designed to keep you healthy, happy, fulfilled, and more productive in work and life.

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