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Organize Your Paperwork

Lesson 5 of 7

Determining What to Scan/Shred/Recycle


Organize Your Paperwork

Lesson 5 of 7

Determining What to Scan/Shred/Recycle


Lesson Info

Determining What to Scan/Shred/Recycle

Let's go next to our filing system so again I really encourage people to go is paperless is possible, but the next category after we pulled out our active would be the stuff that goes in our filing cabinet so you might have car titles, passports, things like that which could live in a safety deposit box. I'm sort of more old school and just keep stuff in a file folder but absolutely you could have a more just secure place for that stuff other stuff that you might file would be bills if you're not going to go paperless, they could be insurance statements, things like that those air the types of paperwork that are going to live in your filing cabinet you might have contracts, lots of paperwork dealing with your home mortgages, things like that. Um, I really recommend using the straight line filing system and what that is, which is shown here is all of the file tabs aaron one line which it's clean looking it's less confusing if you use the zigzag filing method if I add another file to his...

exact file, it sort of becomes a little insane, so if I had a file to this, the system doesn't change, it always stays really clean looking s o I would absolutely recommend straight line filing system um, does anybody have any questions about what that might look like does that make sense? We'll get there. Ok, cool. So we're going to move along. So fun, quote from somebody we've been talking about all day between breaks there is nothing more annoying than papers. After all, they will never spark joy no matter how carefully you keep them. Marie condo. So is from a really great book called the and I'm going to get there totally wrong now that I'm on spot. If anybody else can tell you what the name of the book is, I think it's called the magic life of tidying up. And if I got that wrong and butchered it, I apologize. Marie condo. Um, but anyhow, this is probably the biggest question I get. How what they worked. I need to keep em. I gonna get in trouble if I get rid of it. What if I need it? I'm nervous, which is, to be honest, a lot of the reasons why we hang on to a lot of paperwork because we're just not sure you know, one of the first questions I asked clients to do is to talk to their tax, prepare their c p a their lawyer to get a record for attention guideline, unfortunately, if it's going to look a little bit different for everyone if you want a house it's going to look different than if you're renting it's going to look different if you on your bit on your business as opposed to just filing your personal taxes so that being said, the irs does have guidelines on their website as faras the record retention guidelines for your tax returns as well as supporting debt tax documents the um the language states that if you the iris has three years from your filing date to audit your return if it expect if it suspects good faith error so if they think, oh you you know, accidentally miss reported something they have three years to come back to you and ask for your paperwork they also have well, you have three years if you accidentally did something and they owe you money you have three years to claim that in tow file that amendment you have or they have six years if they suspect that you've under reported your gross income by twenty five percent so that's where thiss oftentimes you hear six or seven years it's six years and then they have an unlimited amount of time so forever to come back to you if they expect that you have filed a fraudulent return so that's where people oftentimes will air on the more conservative side and say anywhere from seven to ten years unfortunately they have forever to come back to you if they suspect you filed a fraudulent return or you didn't file a return s o that's sort of those numbers and then you can break paperwork down from they're um and look at individual receipts and bills again depending on the reasons you would need to keep them the really great thing though about all of this is you can scan everything in the irs actually has a revenue proclamation called ninety seven twenty two which states as long as you keep all of this stuff scanned and it's easily retrievable it has all of the information that the paper had and you can reproduce it very quickly they actually prefer you to scan it in so that's the good thing so that's why I highly recommend to scan stuff iris prefers it and they say yes scan it in we we would love that just make sure it's organized ok so let's talk about scanning and what that might look like I work with a lot of clients and we organize their paperwork and I think the disconnect is how do you get the stuff in paper form to your computer and what is that process even look like do I have to have a fancy scanner? What are my options do I need a flatbed scanner can I get away with that? The answer is you don't have to have a fancy scanner doesn't make it easier absolutely. What I do with a lot of clients is all either bring my own scanner, or I will suggest them sending their paperwork off to a scanning company and getting things back on an external drive that you provide. Or aziz ah ah flash drive a cd and they will give you paperwork back the way they received it. So what you would do is a little bit of work on the front end organizing things into categories. Then you could send them the paperwork. They would rename the pdf files as you have named your paper files. And then they would return that to you, and then you could then transfer that information on to your computer. The other really great thing is your digital files should should closely mirror any paper files you create. So the categories you create with your paper files create the same for your digital, and that will give you a really good framework on howto how to keep everything neat and tidy on the desktop. Um, so let's actually take a look. Let's, do the scan the scannable at first, and I'm going to show you what this looks like. So remove this and the ap amusing is called scannable um, there are lots and lots and lots of scanning aps actually not going turn that on, really so there are lots of skating after this one is sort of the sister scanning app to ever note, so if you use evernote a lot, this is the app you're going to want to get um, that being said, there are lots of them and I'm just going to show you what this looks like so I've got concert ticket normally I wouldn't need to scan this thing because it would be an email form or they'd make me print it, so this isn't maybe the best representation of something that you would scan, but I'm just going to show you what this looks like so it's already looking and it's candid in and I'm just going to click on it and you can see it's a pretty good version did I move it a little know it just looks funny there I'm so I can rename that from here and I can say, um, what concert is a soldier's say this might be memorabilia, so I guess that would be a good reason so sleater kinney ticket and I would say done and then from this I need to put it somewhere I don't want to leave it in my scanning up so again, this is something that goes sinks really well would ever know you can put it in different places, I could mail it to myself, um email it to myself I could put it on my camera roll I could send it in a message I'm going to school and say ever note now I've already set up this to send to my default notebook and evernote so similar to having a paper in box where you're going to collect stuff in process that's what this notebook is for me and ever known so when I get into ever note I would just go into this inbox in process things that way so I'm just going to say save and its scent so it really is that easy and now I can get rid of this piece of paper now obviously if I had piles and piles and I'm taking pictures of everything yes that's going to take a little while and that's where something like our fujitsu scan snap is going to come in um I used the this guy there are other scanners out there this is just one that I have chosen to use, but if you're in this market to get a scanner, I would definitely suggest checking them out and seeing what what fits your needs so I'm going to just show you guys how easy this is first I want to just make sure and we don't necessarily need to show this I just want to make sure that I have this the setting set up so I'm just gonna check and they're different options for the scanner just like there are on here you can scan as a photo you can scan is a pdf the same thing with this guy, so it is set to pdf and I can do double cited scanning or I could do single sided I don't need double cited I'm just going to do single and apply and the way you use this is like a fax miss fax machine as faras like how to put the paperwork so you just turn it upside down and away from you so typically when I scan aa lot of documents instead of them all going to my desktop in sort of going everywhere similar to how we were talking about the paper usually choose one file folder that I have set up to process everything somewhere to how we just scanned and everything to our ever note. So I hit scan and you can see how quickly this is it's four sheets and so this is going to come up and you can see it did a really good job of scanning um and it's got all the pages in there. The one thing that I will tell you is when you're scanning stuff in you're gonna want to have a naming convention whether you put the date first or the date last, I would just suggest having the date in there somewhere I think it's more of a personal preference having it first or last but I would definitely decide which one you would like and then again just coming up with a really simple name for stuff let's just say that this was, um a gas bill so I might say um it's coming up with not I said today's no yeah it is today's date so we would just say it's got today's date so that I would just say gas bill and I might even say all lower case just to keep a consistent so that um it's not extra work on my part so right now I'm telling it to go into the scan file and await for some reason it keeps going out of that bear with me guy so choose and say so now if I look in here it's in this folder and then I can choose where to file this document in the filing system that I have created so again similar to our paper files are digital files are going to be very similar. I actually can we take it back to the phone really quick? I want to show you guys how easy it is to scan business cards using um this apa's well ok, so again it's going to look for it and actually that oh, there we go so we actually knows it's a business card so it goes ahead and pulls up all of the information so it has my email, my phone number, the website and then I can save the contact to my phone so this is a really great tool for business cards as well. I just love that it automatically knows I have a business card I don't have to fill in any of the fields and it's right there for me to say there's a contact well, that ddt cited cards like leave like a photographer's card where there's a really nice photo on the front and that's the part you're interested in, I could just probably turn that over it might not recognize that is a business card um let me see if there was an option toe ad they're like so that they're both together if you do in the front in the back, right? I don't not in this up, I could name it and I could put it in my contacts, but I can't it looks like I can't do that but that's not to say there isn't one author of it does it and because you might have those needs someone else probably doesn't has created that thiss one might be a little more simple just cause it's ever no one but there might be something out there yeah um does anybody have any questions about standing before we go forward can it was a little bit before say like I have all my amex statements like just that's like I think my biggest pile do though do you have to keep those or can you because they said they have it online I know they have abs mining history that's what I was about to say so so many of these statements most banks go back three years credit card job to check individually but I bet that they go back at least a year so I would ask you if you're my client what is the reason for keeping that statement? You need it for personal reasons or do you need it for business write offs to support your tax documents if you only need it for personal reasons I would suggest keeping one month and then letting go of the rest because they're all online yeah absolutely go back for what just a little bit back to us a second for last question once you're your scan files do you archive them in the cloud or somewhere off site in case yeah, absolutely and we're going to talk about backing up and all of that good stuff but yes, I keep my stuff in the cloud cool yeah um so let's continue so the other big question I get in addition, tio in addition to how long do we need to keep stuff is well what do I need to shred you know do I need to shred everything with my name on it don't need to shred everything with my address the things you absolutely should be shredding which we talked about at the top of the show were absolutely shredding credit card offers things like that anything with account numbers social security numbers pin numbers what are some other things you guys can think of birthdate because so many things utilize your birthday now to get information um some people shred things with your signature on it because someone could reproduce that those air sort of the top things that I would absolutely say shred if the paper has that information on it for if you're going to be conservative you're going to shred stuff with your name on it with your address on it um maybe with an email address on it um what do you guys shred do you have any shorting guidelines or what how do you guys shred let me hear some things you guys deal don't you do not grab ok so do you just put it in the recycling bin are you okay? Yeah recycling with no husbands dad was the next fbi guy so he's mister mister safety man he shreds e everything everything does get the co's in there yeah yeah but I'm not so if you don't have to say could you just sometimes they're like a stack of things but just the first page has here, so yeah, you want to do a little bit of processing beforehand? You would just pull out because so many documents it's just like the first page that has all the media stuff, and then everything else can be recycled, and I'll do that with client sometimes it's just call it the stuff that comes in a paper jams and you're just getting your ashes. Yeah, absolutely, I actually got rid of my shredder, I had it, I had it that was actually my shredder is a decent, you know, cross shredder, cross country, utter heavy duty, but shredding is one of those things, not very fun. I don't really want to pull my shredder downstairs while I'm watching tv, even though it's a great task to do maybe while you're watching tv, but it's one of those things that it's just it's not worth it for me, so I send my stuff off to get shredded. Um, I would really recommend checking out your resource is in your own hometown in los angeles, just to give you an example of something you might find in your own hometown. So we have goodwill, goodwill shredding so good will the donation place actually has ah, huge warehouse where they have a shredding facility and I can take up to two american philip to two huge basically bins that you would find on the street like trash bins. Aiken, philip. Two of those for thirty dollars. So what I will often do is take you know, if I worked with a client there's a ton of paperwork, I'll take that stuff to goodwill shredding, and they send me a certificate saying it was safely disposed of, um, I'll save all of my stuff. Take it. There really is worth the thirty dollars. You can also take things to staples to office depot. Most places, any place that sells office supplies will typically take your shredding it's usually around seventy five cents per pound. Ah, banker's box full of paperwork will weigh anywhere from five to ten pounds. So it's really not that much money to just take that stuff? Because to shred a banker's box full of paper takes a little bit of time. It jams smoke's coming out it's frustrating. You have to empty it. And then, you know, places like the auto club will have free shredding events twice a year, lots of places in the community. So you might want to just do a google search and and see because, again, similar to having a filing cabinet in the house a shredder, maybe not so necessary if you khun, if you consume that stuff out

Class Description

Paperwork is an essential part of running a business, but you shouldn’t be swimming in a sea of it. Learn how to keep track of the essentials and do away with the all the rest in Organize Your Paperwork with Beth Penn.

Beth is committed to keeping organized. In this class she’ll share all the tricks of the professional-organizing trade and help you make sense of your stacks of a paper. 

You’ll learn how to: 

  • Create a filing system that actually works for you
  • Store scanned documents in an organized way
  • Use apps designed to declutter your life
  • Know how to get your hands on any document you need, no matter where you are

Beth will help you develop efficient systems so you spend more of you time working with clients and less time on the paper trail. You’ll learn about the three primary types of paperwork and how to categorize as it comes in.

Organize Your Paperwork with Beth Penn will arm you with organizing tips you can tailor to your business and life so you spend more time focusing on what really matters and less time on what doesn’t. 



I tend to agree with Bonnie - it didn't solve all of my organizing problems, but it was helpful for the price paid Pluses - 1) she suggested several interesting apps to explore 2) "need to make the environment for dealing with paperwork attractive/supportive" - it should be obvious, but it was a good reminder Minuses - 1) I wish there had been more emphasis on setting up a paperwork system. 2) The scroll down highlighted "transcript" was interesting, but it was obviously not edited - there were misspellings and mis-transcriptions, which takes away from the professionalism


I have a generally short attention span, so I have studied a lot of organization skills over the years to help me stay successful through school and grad school, and while working in corporate jobs. Now as a business owner I am looking to expand those skills since I have to learn so many more skills and be involved in more aspects of the business. I found this class informative and easy to learn from. I was able to complete the class in one seating, and I have about 4 pages of notes, including concepts and new tools I'm looking forward to implementing and experimenting with. Highly recommend.


Well, I found this instructor hard to follow. She seemed a little scattered, maybe she was nervous? She jumped into showing things without a good explanation of why she was doing it. I had hoped I would get more info on how to organize files in a file cabinet but there was not a lot about that, very general. She put files in wall hangers but I'm not sure why those particular ones went there and not in the files box and what was really going into the file box or being scanned. She showed some phone apps but I never quite caught what they were or how they actually worked. So many computer programs and apps to pay for and paying for sending receipts away to be scanned, paying for shredding, etc. I can't afford all of that. I wouldn't send out my personal papers for someone to scan - is that safe - or put my stuff in an envelope and mail it to be scanned -what if it got lost. I can scan and shred for myself. I don't like having so much of my life in the "cloud" for a couple reasons. I am not sure I'd remember where everything was and it would be a major mess if something happened to me and someone else had to get into all of those places. I will take some of the good bits and pieces and use those, as there were some good tips. I bought the class on sale for only $20 so I guess it was worth that.