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Paper and Office Organizing by Sarah Buckwalter


Practical tips and step-by-step guides to help you manage your paperwork, organize your office, and create a calm, stress-free workplace. Have a specific question about your space? Email me at [email protected] and I will post the answer on next week's blog.

Latest Posts:


Make your Office a little Greener

Does your office have a paper recycling program? If not, it's easy to set one up. There are many recycling companies that will pick up barrels of paper for a small fee. In Massachusetts, I've used Earthworm recycling. But, there are companies nationwide.
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posted on: 4/30/2008 8:30:00 AM  by Sarah Buckwalter
category: Business


Creating a "Green" Workspace

My next few blogs are going to be dedicated to creating a "green" workspace. I am in the process of putting together a new website and information on this subject. Please check back next week for more information. In the meantime, visit my green blog:...

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posted on: 4/16/2008 8:30:00 AM  by Sarah Buckwalter
category: Business


How to set up an Effective Paper Filing System

Firstůmake sure you have a good quality, full suspension file cabinet, with enough space to hold all of your files.   To Begin Use separate filing drawers for business and personal files. Use 5-tab, letter size hanging file folders and 3-tab manila file folders to go inside. Use headers and sub-headers to divide the files into categories. Name the files the way you think of them. Label the tabs well. File alphabetically if that works for you, otherwise file by category. To save space, open and unfold documents (bank statements, stock reports, etc). Staple documents, do not paperclip them.   To Maintain Regularly weed out old...

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posted on: 4/9/2008 8:30:00 AM  by Sarah Buckwalter
category: Business


Tax Record Keeping Tips

How long should you keep tax records and returns? Ordinarily, the IRS recommends three years from the due date of the tax return in which to audit federal income tax returns. This limit may be extended, however, in unusual cases. If more than 25% of your gross income was not reported, the government has six years to collect the tax or to start legal proceedings. Also there are time limitations if you filed a fraudulent return or if you failed to file a return.

 

But you don't have to keep everything for tax purposes. Save documents that relate directly to an entry on your tax return for three years. You can lighten your record keeping load by discarding certain documents once they have served their purpose. For example, you can throw away weekly and monthly salary statements, assuming you are paid in that way, after you check all the items listed on your W-2 form. Remember, however, payroll deductions do not appear on your W-2 forms, so you might want to keep your last statement for the year.

 

The IRS generally keeps records for six years.

 

What to Keep

Every piece of documentation you need to complete your tax returns and defend them, if necessary, at an audit should be at your fingertips. Use a checklist inside to remind yourself of what to keep and what to discard.

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posted on: 4/2/2008 8:30:00 AM  by Sarah Buckwalter
category: Business


Ten Traits That Make You Filthy-Rich

This article appeared in the Wall Street Journal last week. The #3 trait on the list was "Organization".   The article states: "Being organized can make you more productive and ensure that all the many issues pertaining to personal finances are addressed. It means not paying late fees, not buying two of everything, knowing deadlines that can affect your finances and getting more done in less time. All these can greatly benefit your finances." Think beyond your physical space. Are you paying late fees for overdue bills? Think of how much this is costing you. Maybe getting organized is worth the money you'll save on late...

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posted on: 2/20/2008 8:30:00 AM  by Sarah Buckwalter
category: Business


Open your mail!

Just recently, a woman hired me to organize her house. I started with the kitchen, where the counters were piled high with paper and mail. I cleaned everything off the counters, sorting it into three categories: Very Important Mail, Papers to File and Other Papers of Interest (non-pressing items). On the top of the "Very Important Mail" pile, I placed a notice from the IRS that I found at the bottom of a pile of papers, lost in the mess. My client opened this letter when she got home from work only to find it was a notice from the IRS informing her that they were about to put a lien on her home if she didn't pay her back taxes. Well she called them, sent a check, and got it sorted out right away. The moral of this story is to open...

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posted on: 1/30/2008 8:30:00 AM  by Sarah Buckwalter
category: Business


As the daily juggle moves into '08, what's hot, what's not

This is an article that appeared in the Boston Globe Jobs Section on December 30th. I am quoted in it, so I thought I would share....   MAGGIE JACKSON | BALANCING ACTS   By Maggie Jackson December 30, 2007 The word of the year is overload. Will 2008 bring a cure?

Work hours for many keep creeping up - and vacations are going the way of the rotary telephone. We live in a time of communications on steroids - and the off-button doesn't limit the onslaught. It's a noisy, hyper, workaholic era, and yet I see a few gratifying signs that we're tiring of overload, speed, and limitless living.

These embryonic changes surfaced in 2007, and I predict...

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posted on: 1/9/2008 8:30:00 AM  by Sarah Buckwalter
category: Business


Happy New Year!

I will be back next week with more organizing tidbits for 2008....

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posted on: 1/2/2008 8:30:00 AM  by Sarah Buckwalter
category: Business


Email Management

Keeping up with the daily onslaught of emails is a major challenge for most of us, both personally & professionally. The following tips will help you manage the daily flow of emails:

  • Create an electronic filing cabinet, much like the physical cabinets you have, with electronic folders for category names.
  • Once emails have been read and responded to (if an action is required), move the email from your inbox to your storage folders. This makes it easy to track which emails still need an action. Many companies impose limits on "inbox" size. By moving your mail out of your inbox to a personal folder, an added benefit is that the restriction on size will not interrupt your day at precisely the moment you need to send an email.
  • If your email program includes previous email content for that email string when replying, be sure to delete earlier versions of the string to avoid redundant emails filed. This makes it much easier to find the latest copy in the string when searching later.
  • If your email has an attachment file, detach and save it as a file in your electronic filing system for future reference, so you won't have to go searching through your emails to find the file later. Relying on email subject headings can create a time consuming search for the file later....

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posted on: 12/12/2007 8:30:00 AM  by Sarah Buckwalter
category: Business


Finances

Office organizing goes beyond just paper. Having your finances in order is crucial to any individual and business. Start with a simple Excel spreadsheet. You can download your transactions from your bank account and credit card account online. Assign categories to each item, e.g.; meals, health, groceries. Then, you can sort items by month and/or by category to see where your money is going. Also, add in any income. This will give you an accurate idea of what your earning vs. what you are...

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posted on: 12/5/2007 8:30:00 AM  by Sarah Buckwalter
category: Business


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About Sarah:

Sarah Buckwalter has been a Professional Organizer for over 10 years. Sarah has helped hundreds of people achieve a relaxed and stress-free life through home and office organization. Sarah is a Golden Circle member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and is currently serving on the Board of Directors for NAPO-New England.

Sarah's Website:

www.gogreenorganizing.com


Sarah's Other Blogs:




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