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The Paper Tiger Blog contains great ideas on better ways to stay organized, clear your desk, reduce stress and spend less time managing information.

Use Paper Tiger Document Management Software and Filing System to Help You Move!

Moving to a new home is categorized as one of the top five stressors in life. There’s no magic blueprint to follow because everyone is different. Organize as you pack and avoid the risk of overwhelming stress.

I recently moved to a new house and used Paper Tiger Online to help me get everything packed in a methodical way. As I packed each box, I listed the items in the Paper Tiger database.

• I first created a Location name in the Paper Tiger database for each room in the new house. (kitchen, dining room, living room, den, laundry room, basement, etc.)

• Printed several labels for each room to be placed on the boxes. (labels for kitchen, dining room, living room, den, laundry room, basement, etc.)

• When I filled a box, I would list each item in the Keywords section in the ‘location’ where it would go in the new house, placed the label onto the box and wrote the corresponding Item number on the label to match the Item number in Paper Tiger.

• After all boxes were packed and everything listed in Paper Tiger, I printed out a complete Item List Report, and then an Item List Report for each room. (Location)

I used the packing time as the perfect opportunity to do some spring cleaning and get rid of things we no longer needed.

• Shredded old files that needed to be tossed.
• Bagged clothing and other items no longer needed and dropped off to Goodwill.

You’re probably thinking this was quite a hassle while packing up, but actually it didn’t take that much more time. Unpacking was so much easier than any other move I’ve made, because everyone knew where the boxes should be placed. And with the Item List Report in each room, we didn’t have to search through every box to find something before it was unpacked. We just searched Paper Tiger!

Note (things to remember):

If you have help when packing, (whether it be professional movers or family members):

• Set up your Locations (room names) into Paper Tiger Online with a capacity of 20 in each Location,

• Give each member of the family a notepad and pen with instructions to write down everything as they pack and label each box correctly. You decide how the labeling will work so everyone understands and uses the same method. If this doesn’t happen, your system will fail miserably.

• Once everyone is finished, you can enter all of the information into your filing system so that you have a complete list of everything that’s being moved.

• One of the last things to do before packing up your computer and printer is to print off copies of your list for each Location (room name). This will be especially helpful if you don’t have Internet access on moving day.

I was so glad I used Paper Tiger Online! When we needed something that wasn’t unpacked yet, I just searched Paper Tiger and knew exactly what room and box number to find it. I avoided the chaos of having a mountain of boxes and no idea where anything was.


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In today’s workplace environment, it’s frowned upon to discriminate against anyone for any reason whatsoever. It also suggests that everyone should have the same ability to find suitable work. Employers must be seen to treat everyone fairly.

ADD/ADHD Presents Specific Challenges

People who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit & Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often have difficulty in workplaces for many reasons. If tasks are too mundane or take too long to complete, they can become difficult for the employee to handle.

This can create feelings of low self-esteem and may trigger the desire to quit work rather than cope with it. This challenge often proves to be a large obstacle to people who suffer from ADD/ADHD successfully finding and keeping jobs, especially if they’ve had a bad experience in the past.

Having ADD/ADHD means you have a chronic illness that can’t be cured. It doesn’t turn you into a “monster with 2 heads.” You’re still a human being who deserves the same opportunities everyone else has. Having a chronic illness that isn’t obviously visible doesn’t make it any less real. Add disorganization to the specific challenges of ADD/ADHD and you get more stress than normal, lack of concentration, confusion and a sense of panic.

Bring Sanity Back With Document Management Software

The great news is that document management software, like The Paper Tiger Document Management and Filing System Software brings sanity back into people’s lives. The Paper Tiger is very user friendly for anyone needing such a system. However, people who have ADD/ADHD have an added bonus in knowing that it’s so easy to use and is very logical, which means it doesn’t require an excessive amount of effort. This means files can be saved, archived, retrieved or discarded without the stress that traditional style systems have.

To better understand how filing system software can help you, just picture life without it. Desks piled high with overflowing folders full of documents. In and out trays full to capacity with more documents waiting to be added to the files. Everyone running around scratching their heads and trying to retrieve specific files so they can get back to the more demanding work. An unwieldy alphabetical filing system that forces people to waste hours of valuable time is something that makes no sense.

This picture can be summed up in just 3 words –
COSTLY, INEFFICIENT and FRUSTRATING!

Get Organized to Increase Office Efficiency and Moral

Imagine the possibilities if your new filing system software was able to help people facing these extra challenges to better cope. Just think how much more efficiently your whole company would run.

Now close your eyes and picture a row of desks with in trays and out trays containing just a few documents. The desktops have a few files here and there, and staff members are smiling as they carry out their daily tasks. That’s an example of how much impact the implementation of the right document management system can have on your staff and the company’s bottom line.

Naturally this software isn’t just for people with health problems. It’s designed to make life easier for everyone using it. Employers will have greater confidence in implementing such a user-friendly filing system. Employees will be able to better manage their time in order to focus on the more demanding tasks.

In any workplace, teamwork is a vital component of success. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. In a workplace, as in life, it’s up to everyone to cope with the cards they’ve been dealt. So if you can add the right document management system and increase efficiency for all, then that’s fantastic.

The one thing that people in all working environments agree on is that work should be manageable. The more user-friendly your filing system is, the better it will be for everyone.

Your IQ or mental capacity should make no difference. Knowing that user-friendly document management software brings sanity back into people’s lives, will enable you to create a better working atmosphere without breaking the bank.

The Paper Tiger Document Management Software and Filing System will get you on the right track and bring sanity to your life!

Other Recent Posts:

The Smartest Filing System for Busy Moms

The Paper Tiger Will Help You Practice Good Time Management and Organization Techniques

The Many uses of The Paper Tiger


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This article by Denise Landers, founder and CEO of Key Organization Systems Inc. and a Paper Tiger Expert, will help you save time and money, simply by taking steps to get organized. Denise also recommends The Paper Tiger Document Management and Filing System software to help keep track of all your paper files throughout the year.

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Are you interested in cutting costs and saving money?

Saving money in both business and personal spheres is not only a wise discretionary move during this economic turmoil, but for many it is a necessity. These past months have caused us all to reevaluate our spending and seek ways to limit cash outflow.

There is an easy solution that will produce many benefits, not just financially but in many tangent areas – become more organized.

Improving organization helps with the bottom line in a multitude of ways:

1. Image.

a. 73% of managers and associates say they form impressions of co-workers by the way their desks are organized. Disorganized desks do not indicate you are ready for additional responsibilities. There is a lot of competition now, so do not handicap your chances of securing more business.

b. Nearly 70% of workers believe that colleagues with messy desks are less career driven than their counterparts. Can you afford to allow that perception in this climate of downsizing and forced sabbaticals?

2. Productivity

a. Office distractions eat up 2.1 hours per day for the average worker. How much more could you produce if you had 2 extra focused hours of work each day?

b. Once interrupted, it takes 25 minutes to get back into the flow of the original task. Although many think you will get more done by multitasking, you are actually less effective than when concentrating on one thing before switching to another.

3. Time

If distractions eat up an average of 2.1 hours per day, that adds up to over 12 weeks per year. If you were organized, not only would you produce more, but you have extra time to pursue your personal goals and meet family commitments.

4. Health

a. Distracted drivers who are multitasking cause 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes.

b. Stress builds up with disorganization. 80% of our medical expenditures are now stress-related.

5. Money

a. 2.1 hours of distractions per day translates to $28 billion a year in the U.S. Add to that the loss of money due to employee absenteeism, illness, and health claims.

b. Estimate how much time is being wasted by each employee within an organization, multiply that by number of employees, and do that for year after year that this continues to occur.

Bringing the cost of disorganization closer to home, here are common situations where eliminating disorganization can quickly put more dollars in your pocket:

• Late payments (misplaced bills leading to interest and penalties)
• Pending rebates (not collecting the necessary information)
• Duplicate purchases (unable to find what you already had)
• Unused gift cards (not with you while shopping)
• Overdraft fees (failing to reconcile)
• Multiple trips to store (shopping without a list)
• Repairs (neglecting maintenance)
• Tax Deductions (not tracking mileage and business expenses)
• Late fees (overdue items)

It is always worth the time to be better organized, but with the economic stresses we are facing now, it becomes more of a necessity. The short-term investment in time produces long-term dividends.

Denise Landers @timetrainer

Contact Key Organization Systems, Inc. for written permission to reproduce an article: http://www.keyorganization.com/contact-us.php

*Statistics sources

If you would like to jumpstart your organizing efforts and add to your time management skills, we can help!

Corporate Training: workshops and consulting to increase daily work flow and reduce stress

Individual Assistance: our onsite and virtual office organizing to bring about changes quickly

On Your Own: books and CDs to work at your own pace


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This article by Denise Landers, founder and CEO of Key Organization Systems Inc. and a Paper Tiger Expert, will help you…. Denise also recommends The Paper Tiger Document Management Software and Filing System to help keep track of all your paper files throughout the year.

Are you struggling to get more done every day and yet running into obstacles that keep you from being as productive as possible? Where is the clutter in your life? It could be:

* a mental overload
* a surfeit of activities
* stacks of papers
* a barrage of email
* the corner of your garage

Whether you are facing piles of paper or the overload is hidden in your email inbox, you know it is something that needs to be tackled, and it nags at you. Those little guilt feelings at not getting around to clearing things out end up sapping your energy. If this describes you, follow these seven steps to gain control:

1. Break the task into manageable pieces. If it took ten years to accumulate, do not expect to deal with it all in one day. Schedule small blocks of time on your calendar.

2. Make sure everything has a home. You have to make a decision on each item. Having a specific place for everything gives you structure.

3. Store like items with like items. When you keep all of one type of item together, you know how many you have and where to find them.

4. Store things where you will use them. You need to select a logical home. Otherwise the clutter will accumulate again because you will leave an item where you use it.

5. Contain it. A container can be as small as a paper clip holder or as large as a room. Only keep what will fit. This helps you set boundaries.

6. Get rid of excess. Options include selling, donating, recycling, giving away, tossing. Keep a donation box handy all the time.

7. Create systems. The real key to getting organized and staying organized is to create a system that works for you and stick to it.

These strategies apply whether it is an organized office you seek or cleared spaces at home. Your mental outlook will improve, and your daily productivity will soar!

Copyright © Key Organization Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

If you would like to jumpstart your organizing efforts and add to your time management skills, Denise can help! and Twitter @timetrainer

Corporate Training: workshops and consulting to increase daily work flow and reduce stress

Individual Assistance: our onsite and virtual office organizing to bring about changes quickly

On Your Own: books and CDs to work at your own pace


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Top 9 Mistaken Organizing Statements
by Stephanie Calahan of Calahan Solutions, Inc. and Paper Tiger Expert

Productive & Organized - We'll help you find your way.™

There are a number of statements that I have heard people say over the years with regard to their organizing projects. They are the top mistakes that you can make when thinking about getting your space and time under control.

1 – “If it can’t be perfect, why do it?”

Wanting to do a good job on your projects is admirable. However, the drive for perfection has ruined the success of many projects. Perfectionism paralyzes even the smartest people. Consider the consequences of not doing the project at all vs. the need for perfection. Then, see what you can do to eliminate that procrastination technique!

2 – “I can change! I know I can. This system worked for ______ and I know I can make it work for me.”

We are different — right down to our fingerprints. Assuming that the system is right and you are broken is not the right way to go. Instead, find a system that works for the way you naturally think and learn. You will experience a much better outcome.

3 – “When I have time, I’ll get to it.”

If you are struggling to find time, then you have an even bigger need to get organized! Did you know that the average person wastes 150 hours a year just looking for stuff?!? To make it worse, the average executive wastes 6 WEEKS A YEAR just looking for information and other items. Imagine what you could do with that extra time. Pick 10-15 minutes a day and get started.

4 – “I know I have not used it in years, but I will!”

If you work or live in a space that has loads of extra space, then this comment can be okay. However, most people I talk to tell me that they don’t have enough space. If you have to search through stuff that you don’t use to find the things you do use, you are wasting time. Be honest with yourself and let go of unused items. It will free up your space and time for more important things.

5 – “I do what the books tell me. I have like with like, but nothing ever gets put away.”

Like with like works in some circumstances, but there is another rule to consider. Store items closest to where you will use them. For example, if you have a container that holds all of your scissors, you will likely never find them in that container! Why? Because we get the scissors out and take them to the space where we use them. To walk back to a centralized storage location just does not happen very often. Items that you use on a daily basis should be within your arm’s reach. Things used less frequently can be farther away and so on.

6 – “I have a fantastic 48 step plan.”

Any system that has too many steps is likely to fail. Put the KISS (keep it simple stupid) process into play. If it takes a long time or is too hard to reach, it is likely you won’t do it.

7 – “Planning — smaning Organizing is easy. You just get in there and do it right?”

A little planning up front can save you lots of time now and in the future. Decide what the purpose for each room / space in a room will be. Then, as you have new items come into that space, you will be able to ask yourself if the item fits the space’s purpose. Let’s say you work out of your home. You have identified a room (or a corner) that is dedicated to your business. You find crayons and books in that space. Now that you have defined the space, there is no question that the items do not belong there.

8 – “I found the cutest container yesterday! I love the little drawers. Now, I just need to figure out how to use it.”

If you purchase organizing containers and tools without knowing how you are going to use them, it is likely that the containers will become clutter! Instead, sort and purge first. Then identify specific containers and tools that are needed to complete a project and purchase them.

9 – “No one can help me with this stuff. I have to do this alone.”

Sometimes, when we create a mess, we feel like we need to clean it up on our own, but that is untrue. Some of us are better than others figuring out systems to get organized. Consider finding a co-worker or friend that is organized and ask if they will help. Or, you can hire a coach to help you figure it out. Seeking help when you need it is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.

Related Resources
Do you wonder where you can make a difference in your productivity and organization? If so, you may like our self-assessment for Personal Productivity. You will get immediate results and may even qualify for a free telephone strategy session with me.

To your success! Steph
Twitter.com/StephCalahan
Facebook.com/StephCalahan


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The new year is a great time to think of ways that you can improve your life — Getting Organized always lands in the top 10 lists of New Year Resolutions.  There are many outstanding resources available to help you, but it is often hard to find them.

The solution:

to get as many resources as possible available in one spot –

FREE!

For the first time ever, productivity and organizing professionals from around the globe are working together to deliver the GREAT ORGANIZING GIVEAWAY, and The Paper Tiger is honored to participate in this event.

The Great Organizing Giveaway is Here!

Go to http://www.AskTheExpertOrganizers.com/signup.html and sign up to get resources such as e-books, tip sheets, audio programs, complementary consulting and more!  You can also enter into drawings for amazing prizes.  Our amazing colleagues have really stepped up to the plate to deliver quality content just for you and it will cost you nothing!

Information will be categorized into three main categories: your office, your time and your home.  Business professionals, parents and students will all find expert material that fits their personal productivity and organization needs.

Then do us a favor and comment below or on the Great Organizing Giveaway site to let us know what you think.  Better yet, share this great Get Organized event with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc!

www.AskTheExpertOrganizers.com

HERE IS A SAMPLING OF OVER 130 THINGS THAT WILL BE GIVEN AWAY:

* Try The Paper Tiger Document Management and Filing System software for 10 days with a free trial through the Great Organizing Giveaway website and you will be entered into a drawing with 5 chances to win The Paper Tiger Professional edition software! – “The best filing system ever invented!” 

* On a Clear Day You Can Find the Top Of Your Desk Audio and Transcripts

* Productive & Organized: Finding Your Way – Special Report: Priority Setting – Working on the Right Things

* Residential Record Retention Guidelines Special Report

* Quick-Start Guide to Writing Profitable Articles

* Take Control of Your Clutter Before it Takes Control of You! An E-book Simplesizing Kit

* Get Your E-mail Organized!

* AboutOne Your life organized — memberships

* Use LinkedIn to Significantly Grow Your Business & Explode Your Profits!

* 101 Ways to Attract Ideal Clients Build Your List and Raise Your Profile

* 51 Creative Organizing Solutions Found in Every Day Items

* 7 Warning Signs You’re About to Hire the Wrong VA

* “Downsizing Dilemmas – Solved!” workbook

* Using Core Values as a Foundation in Organizing Your Life Workbook

* Making Being Green Easy: Eco organizing tips for the Home and Office

* Top to Bottom Hanging Closet Caddy

* Scared of Filing: 38 Easy Organizing Tips for Your Home Office

* Getting Things Done – How to Set up Chores

* Nine Strategies for Simplifying Your Business

* It’s Time…Stop Procrastinating NOW!

* 112 Tips to Organize Your Workday

* How to Set Up a ‘Command Center’ to run an efficient home and a free phone consultation

* Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash

* 33 Tips to Get Organized Add Space To Your Life and Master Your Muck!

* 101 Simple Tips to Organize Your Life!

* Organize YOUR World video

* Home Organization Secrets for Busy Moms

* Parenting Time Management

* Organizing for Dummies booklet and a free subscription to “Let’s Organize It”

* Shape Up Your Kitchen and Release the Weight!

* Top-10 Tips For Instant Feng Shui!

* The “Simplify Your Life” Collection! Free ebooks and audio classes with ADD-Friendly Strategies that Work for EVERYONE!

* Couch Potato Organizing

* See Mike Holmes from HGTV Holmes on Homes/Home Inspection

Plus many more!


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While most professionals realize that file management is mandatory to keep their businesses organized, they hate the actual task of filing paper. Often, these same professionals procrastinate more in developing a document management system than in any other task in the office. This applies to supervisors, business owners and office employees alike. Filing has a bad reputation in business.

The main reason is because it’s time consuming. Add to that, not knowing how to file specific documents and then locate those same files again when needed, and this serves only to reinforce this negative mindset. An efficient and organized file management system is mandatory. So what’s the solution?

The Paper Tiger Document Management and Filing System Software!

This document management software makes filing easy and much less time consuming. Those who have converted to document indexing using The Paper Tiger software have discovered just how simple and efficient this filing system is. And they rave about how it removes the dread from the task of filing! Once the software is installed and in use, the procrastination associated with managing files and paperwork in the office flies out the window.

Less procrastinating means more work accomplished. Employees will be more productive, which will make them—and you—happier and more content.

Organization is required for any business to function properly. Sadly, many office workers still believe the only way files and documents can be organized is to keep them all in one location. With The Paper Tiger, that simply isn’t the case because the software provides the organization. To add new files, you simply place a new folder behind the last one in the drawer or file box; label it accordingly in relation to your keywords input into The Paper Tiger, and you’re good to go. It works like a search engine for your paper files! You’ll immediately spend less time shuffling paper and more time being productive.

No more struggling or wasting time moving files around from one filing cabinet to another so you can squeeze one more folder in. No more wasting time trying to decide where the file is when you need it. No more reorganizing an office to fit in another file cabinet, when there is plenty of space in another room. Files no longer have to be near each other to keep your file management functioning properly.

Some business owners and employees think scanning is the best way to manage their files in trying to create a paperless environment. But consider this…

1. What happens if you scan a file, dispose of it, and then realize you’re missing important documents that didn’t scan properly?

2. How much money will you have to spend on a scanner with enough speed, efficiency, and quality to justify the cost of this filing system?

3. What will you do if your computer crashes and you don’t have a backup?

4. How will you name your files so you’ll be able to easily find them later?

5. How will your computer handle the files as space becomes limited or programs change?

These are just a few of the many questions that you’ll need to answer before using a document management scanning system. The concerns are many and can impact your business in ways you may never have considered.

When you use The Paper Tiger filing system, however, you’re putting your computer to work for you. Not only will you have a computer index of all your files, but a paper copy as well. You’ll still have the originals of all your important documents.

Companies who have been in business for decades often struggle with their document management system because it was created back when the company began. This can cause problems never imagined. Certain files must be kept forever. This can be a challenge, to say the least, when the business has been around for many years.

Some business owners may be concerned they can’t learn to use the software and may feel an indexing system only works for small businesses that don’t have many files. Or they may think it only works for businesses whose files are all housed in one location. This really isn’t the case. Worldwide, associations, large companies, small businesses, schools & colleges, government agencies, healthcare providers, non-profit institutions, religious institutions, as well as individuals, have discovered a filing system that uses the power of their computer to solve their problems with paper once and for all!

The Paper Tiger Document Management and Filing System Software works with as many files as you have to manage and it’s so easy to add or remove files, that it’s truly the best solution for a business of any size. The system works well for businesses with different locations as well. The software will manage files wherever they’re stored, making it a perfect solution for any business, regardless of what they do, or how big or small they are.

The Paper Tiger may not take all the work out of filing and document management, but it will save you time in maintaining and organizing your office documents. The fear that it will take too much time to get it all done is probably the biggest reason for procrastinating where filing is concerned. The average businessperson wastes over 150 hours per year just looking for lost information! Let The Paper Tiger Document Management and Filing System Software tame your files and you can alleviate some of the stress that comes with developing a more effective filing system while running a well-organized and more efficient office at the same time!


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This article by Meggin McIntosh is a great method to get your document management filing system back to order. If you have piles of paper files stacked up, use this method to get you back on track. Then go from there using The Paper Tiger Document Management and Filing System Software to stay on track … and don’t go back to ‘overwhelmed’!

Use the 3-Folder Sorting Technique
By Meggin McIntosh

You know perfectly well when the overwhelm is present in your life. It shows on your desk, in your piles of to-do’s, in your in-box, and in your brain. Here are the symptoms:

Your desk is covered.

Your in-box is full.

You get things out of your in-box or tickler file and shuffle through them, and then put them right back where they came from – with no action being taken, whatsoever.
You feel stressed, frantic, and sometimes almost paralyzed by not knowing where to start or what to do.

This, of course, leads to even less productivity – and more overwhelm. I want to share an idea that I discovered for MY OWN USE when I was paralyzed in this way (and I still use it on occasion). I hope it helps you, too.

The 3 Folders

When I’m overwhelmed (and engaging in the behaviors in the list above), I get out my 3 special folders. You can label your folders any way you want, but these are the three I have labeled and use:

Red folder: Today/This Week
Yellow folder: Current Month
Blue folder: Whenever/If Ever

These three categories are ones that seem to be helpful when I need to do a rough ‘sort’ (vs. a refined sort). They are meant to provide some sense of order and control over what is feeling completely out-of-control and disorderly.

When It’s Time to Use the 3 Folders, Here’s How

The 3-folders strategy is not for everyday use…it is for for times when it feels like you are in an emergency state. Here’s how to implement the strategy, when needed:

Clear off the top of your desk or credenza so that you have a place to lay out three separate piles (categories).

Place the red (today/this week), yellow (current month), and blue (whenever/if ever) folders in the space you have cleared.

Pick up the first pile of things that represent your to-do’s and start sorting. You can actually sort quickly because you are in a crisis and so you KNOW you have to make tough decisions.

ONLY put something in the red (today/this week) folder if there are serious consequences if it doesn’t get done. If you jam everything back into that folder, you haven’t helped yourself at all – and you’re not in touch with reality, either.

Keep sorting through whatever it is that is stressing you out – folders, papers, brochures, or anything else that feels like it has an ‘action’ attached.

Once you are finished, put the piles into their respective folders. Put the yellow and blue folders away (off your desk).

Take what is in the red folder out and get started. You’ve identified what is in there as needing to be done today, tomorrow, or this week (however it is you think about it). So get going. These are your top items and you don’t need to be working on – or even looking at – anything else.

I find that I have an incredible sense of purpose and relief once I’ve prepared the red folder and tend to be able to work with a fair amount of speed and focus. It feels great!

You Want to Have These Folders Ready When You Need Them

The first time I created these folders, I was already in a melt-down mode and luckily, since my office resembles an office supply store, I was able to rustle up what I needed. You may not have what you need, so I recommend that you take steps now to be ready…just in case.

Go to your favorite office supply store or just order online. My preference is to use the 5 1/2 inch expandable file folders (vs. a flimsy and small regular folder) – and you can buy packets of 5 different colors at Office Depot.

Once you get your folders, label them with three separate words or phrases, similar to what I use or come up with your own categories.

If you’re in a melt-down and need them now, then put them to use. If you are doing just fine, then put these 3 folders away, knowing that you might need them someday. You’ll be so happy to have them prepared and ready for you…next time you need them.

And if you know the paralysis that sometimes comes when you are completely overwhelmed and you’re seeking ways to be ‘just whelmed,’ then I hope you’ll take advantage of the free weekly suggestions and ideas I send out to those (worldwide) who belong to the ‘just whelmed’ group. Just go to
**I Want to Be Just Whelmed (http://www.JustWhelmed.com)

If you would prefer quick, short weekly tips, then the following site is another place to find suggestions and other tools to support you in your quest for peaceful productivity (free):
**Top Ten Productivity Tips (http://www.TopTenProductivityTips.com)

(c) 2009 by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D., “The Ph.D. of Productivity”(tm). Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin McIntosh changes what people know, feel, dream, and do. Sound interesting? It is!

Article Source: Meggin McIntosh

Use the 3-File Folder Sorting Technique


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Have you ever been on the road traveling for business and discovered you needed a file from your office? If you have your own file system, it could be a challenge to send someone to your office to look for what you need.

If you used an indexing system such as The Paper Tiger document management software and filing system, you wouldn’t have this problem. You could give your assistant the information needed to quickly and easily find the documents you need, saving you not only time, but money as well.

Worldwide, thousands of businesses, government agencies, non-profits and individuals use The Paper Tiger Document Management and Filing System software to manage their filing. They have discovered a filing system that uses the power of their computer to solve their problems with paper once and for all!

These organizations and individuals have found The Paper Tiger software to be an invaluable tool to help them better manage their office and get organized to stay on top of the virtual mountain of paperwork that they must deal with each day. It is simply the best filing system available. You get all the power of the computer without the risks and time commitment of paper scanning!

The indexing system is the way to go because it gives your employees the ability to access files and documents no matter where you are. It’s the ideal way to find what you’re looking for with ease.

An indexing system saves a company money and it saves time every year because you don’t have to physically search for files you need. Just think how productive your staff can be. It’s like having more hours in the day to accomplish necessary tasks. You’ll also lower your overtime hours when you implement an indexing system for your document management solutions.

Some managers want to ensure The Paper Tiger Document Management and Filing System software is the right program for their offices, and others want to be sure the money they spend is worth the investment, while still others need to make sure they can get a refund if this software doesn’t work as promised. Let’s alleviate some of these concerns.

One question we’re asked often is what happens if my computer crashes or goes down. What will I do since all of the information is stored on the computer? There are a couple of ways to handle this. One suggestion is to print out a report with all of the information that is contained in your software.

Another option is to do a back up of your entire computer and save it at another location. An external hard drive or CD works well for this.

One last suggestion is to make sure your network (if you have one) is backed up regularly.

We’re also asked how we can say The Paper Tiger saves 150 hours a year when it takes so long to create the index? When you consider using an indexing system you need to look at the entire picture. Yes, it will take time to create your index, but compared to the time spent searching for files, it takes much less time in the long run. And you have a full 60-day guarantee!

For some, if not all companies, security and privacy is a huge issue. When your file folders are arranged by contact name, company name, or other pertinent information, it’s easier for someone to look in those files and access confidential information. When you use an indexing system that uses numbers, it isn’t nearly as easy for someone to locate sensitive data. This virtually eliminates privacy issues for client files, in particular.

Training is another big issue for some companies. They need to make the most of their time and money. The Paper Tiger indexing system is easy to learn and it’s easy to train others to use. The more you use the system, the easier it becomes. Start slow and work your way up to larger quantities of files. Before you know it, your entire office will be indexed!

An indexing system for document management is worth every second of investment and time spent setting it up. You’ll see the difference almost immediately. Your employees will be more productive, you’ll spend less time searching for files, and you’ll spend even less time filing new documents or re-filing documents you’ve pulled.

After just a few days of using The Paper Tiger, you’ll feel comfortable with it and you’ll wonder how you survived without it. You’ll feel better about your document management system and you’ll know you made a smart choice. You’ll also know that you’re spending less money and your employees are more productive than they ever were before you chose The Paper Tiger Document Management and Filing System software.


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By Meggin McIntosh

How about this (and see if it doesn’t ring true for you): For the average professional, at least ½ (i.e., 50%) of what comes into your email inbox is immediately delete-able. (new word, I think). So, using that statistic, take careful note of the ideas in this article.

When you open your email (only limited number of times each day), have in your head that you are probably going to quickly delete at least 50% of them. Some, you can delete without even having to open them (ads, spam, silly things that people send that you could care less about, and so forth). Those are the easiest ones and you can just highlight those and hit delete. If you want to permanently delete, then most email programs allow you to hold down the Shift key and hit delete and then the items don’t even show up in your “deleted items” folder. But either way, press delete.

Now, when you actually begin to open your emails for real processing, you are going to have ones that you can delete just as soon as you see what they are. Several examples below:

  • You’ve been cc’d or bcc’d on something that is not even pertinent to you. As soon as you make this determination, you delete the item.
  • You receive emails that are announcements about upcoming events that either you’re not interested in, or that as soon as you look at your calendar, realize that you can’t attend. If no reply is required, just delete. If a reply is required, reply and then delete!
  • You get a newsletter, information about something that you’ve subscribed to or requested, but you know you are now so far behind that the likelihood of getting this newsletter, special report, white paper, or other document read is slim to none. JUST DELETE IT. You’re a grown up…you get to choose!
  • You receive mass emails that appear to be from someone way up in the organization (like a president, CFO, or the like) and in reality, it’s an announcement about a building being closed for maintenance. If it’s a building you’ve never been in, couldn’t find if you were looking for it, and don’t plan to be traveling to in the next few weeks, just delete the email.

Now, what about the emails that you need to ‘do something’ about. Can some of them still be deleted. YES. For example:

  • You open the email and it’s something that answers a question you had, but no further action is required – and so you just delete (after writing down the info if it’s something you’ll need later).
  • You open an email and the location for an upcoming meeting is included, which hadn’t been included in the last email. You either make note of that location in your calendar (paper or digital) and THEN YOU DELETE IT. There’s no need, once you’ve captured the information you need from an email to keep it.

The list goes on and on about what is delete-able. Remember, much of it can be deleted almost immediately, and quite a bit of the rest of it as soon as you’ve garnered what you needed from the email. As the title to the article suggests, delete early and often. Keep your email practices sane and sensible.

And access additional ways of getting and staying productive, then please join others (worldwide) who receive Meggin’s weekly tips and suggestions (and see what is available for download free at the following websites):

**Top Ten Productivity Tips (http://www.TopTenProductivityTips.com)
**Keys to Keeping Chaos at Bay (http://www.KeepingChaosatBay.com)

(c) 2009 by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D., “The Ph.D. of Productivity”(tm). Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin McIntosh changes what people know, feel, dream, and do. Sound interesting? It is!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Meggin_McIntosh


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In this blog post, Denise Landers, a knowledgeable Paper Tiger consultant, is presenting us with better ideas for managing the receipts in our lives.  A big part of getting organized and doing a better job of managing your filing system is to get organized with receipts.  You only have 5 options with the paper in your office, for further details see The Paper Tiger Document Management Decision Guide.

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Organizing Receipts: Keep It Simple

We run into one tax deadline after another, and you keep vowing that “This will not happen again next year.”  So, how’s it looking so far?  Do you have a new system in place and no stray receipts laying around?

If you are still looking for “your” perfect solution, there are lots of options.

1. Scan in your receipts with a scanner like NeatReceipts, for about $199.  You can also categorize as you scan so that everything is already divided up according to tax codes.

2. Have someone else scan in your receipts with a service like Pixily.  With this document-management website, you use a prepaid envelope to mail in your documents, and they do they scanning.  Prices start at $14.95 per month.  Another possibility is Shoeboxed, starting at $9.95 a month, which also provides statistics and exports receipts to Excel or Quicken.

(more…)


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Here is a great article from one of our Paper Tiger Experts, Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D.

Many people struggle with feeling overwhelmed in their daily work lives.  Getting and staying organized is vitally important to continued success.  In this article, Meggin lays out a creative way using “The 3 Folders” to easily prioritize your work and greatly reduce the stress in your life and de-clutter your desk.  Many thanks to Meggin for this valuable contribution.

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You know perfectly well when the overwhelm is present in your life. It shows on your desk, in your piles of to-do’s, in your in-box, and in your brain. Here are the symptoms:

-Your desk is covered.
-Your in-box is full.
-You get things out of your in-box or tickler file and shuffle through them, and then put them right back where they came from – with no action being taken, whatsoever.
-You feel stressed, frantic, and sometimes almost paralyzed by not knowing where to start or what to do.

This, of course, leads to even less productivity – and more overwhelm. I want to share an idea that I discovered for MY OWN USE when I was paralyzed in this way (and I still use it on occasion). I hope it helps you, too.

The 3 Folders

When I’m overwhelmed (and engaging in the behaviors in the list above), I get out my 3 special folders. You can label your folders any way you want, but these are the three I have labeled and use:

-Red folder: Today/This Week
-Yellow folder: Current Month
-Blue folder: Whenever/If Ever

These three categories are ones that seem to be helpful when I need to do a rough ‘sort’ (vs. a refined sort). They are meant to provide some sense of order and control over what is feeling completely out-of-control and disorderly.

When It’s Time to Use the 3 Folders, Here’s How

The 3-folders strategy is not for everyday use…it is for for times when it feels like you are in an emergency state. Here’s how to implement the strategy, when needed:

1. Clear off the top of your desk or credenza so that you have a place to lay out three separate piles (categories).

2. Place the red (today/this week), yellow (current month), and blue (whenever/if ever) folders in the space you have cleared.

3. Pick up the first pile of things that represent your to-do’s and start sorting. You can actually sort quickly because you are in a crisis and so you KNOW you have to make tough decisions.

4. ONLY put something in the red (today/this week) folder if there are serious consequences if it doesn’t get done. If you jam everything back into that folder, you haven’t helped yourself at all – and you’re not in touch with reality, either.

5. Keep sorting through whatever it is that is stressing you out – folders, papers, brochures, or anything else that feels like it has an ‘action’ attached.

6. One you are finished, put the piles into their respective folders. Put the yellow and blue folders away (off your desk).

7. Take what is in the red folder out and get started. You’ve identified what is in there as needing to be done today, tomorrow, or this week (however it is you think about it). So get going. These are your top items and you don’t need to be working on – or even looking at – anything else.

I find that I have an incredible sense of purpose and relief once I’ve prepared the red folder and tend to be able to work with a fair amount of speed and focus. It feels great!

You Want to Have These Folders Ready When You Need Them

The first time I created these folders, I was already in a melt-down mode and luckily, since my office resembles an office supply store, I was able to rustle up what I needed. You may not have what you need, so I recommend that you take steps now to be ready…just in case.

Go to your favorite office supply store or just order online. My preference is to use the 5 1/2 inch expandable file folders (vs. a flimsy and small regular folder) – and you can buy packets of 5 different colors at Office Depot.

Once you get your folders, label them with three separate words or phrases, similar to what I use or come up with your own categories.

If you’re in a melt-down and need them now, then put them to use. If you are doing just fine, then put these 3 folders away, knowing that you might need them someday. You’ll be so happy to have them prepared and ready for you…next time you need them.

And if you know the paralysis that sometimes comes when you are completely overwhelmed and you’re seeking ways to be ‘just whelmed,’ then I hope you’ll take advantage of the free weekly suggestions and ideas I send out to those (worldwide) who belong to the ‘just whelmed’ group. Just go to
**I Want to Be Just Whelmed, (http://www.JustWhelmed.com)

If you would prefer quick, short weekly tips, then the following site is another place to find suggestions and other tools to support you in your quest for peaceful productivity (free):
**Top Ten Productivity Tips, (http://www.TopTenProductivityTips.com)

(c) 2009 by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D., “The Ph.D. of Productivity”(tm). Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin McIntosh changes what people know, feel, dream, and do. Sound interesting? It is!

Article Source: By Meggin McIntosh, http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Meggin_McIntosh


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What Tools Are Needed to Get Started with your Document Management System?

• An “In Box” to place the paper you have not yet reviewed

• A place to put frequently used files – a desk drawer, a desktop file folder or nearby file drawer

• A place to put reference files – additional desk drawers or file cabinets

• Pendaflex hanging file folders with plastic tabs (letter or legal, depending on your file cabinet)

• “Box bottom” files (hanging files with a 1″ cardboard strip in the bottom) if you tend to have “thick” files

• Hanging file frames if your file cabinet does not accommodate hanging files

• Manila files for use in files you take with you, or for subdividing files

• An “Out Box” – if you send or take papers elsewhere, located within reach of where you sit

• A “To File” Box – located within reach of where you sit

• Plenty of trash bags and recycling containers


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By Meggin McIntosh

When you are taking the pulse on your productivity and the overall health of your ‘organization,’ you need to take a very good look at the ‘pixels’ related to your productivity. You can use this *P* word to think about a category that includes everything digital. For example, consider your

cell phones,
computer(s),
PDA,
TV,
websites,
LCD projectors,
and the list could go on and on.
When you are really taking the pulse of your organization, you want to make note of – and make changes in (as needed) – anything and everything that can clog up your “circulatory system.”

Sometimes, the items (and your use or misuse of them) may clog up your ‘circulatory’ system because you don’t know how to use it effectively and efficiently. Other times, it is because the item – or some aspect of it – is a distractor to you. Either way, recognize that your productivity can either be helped or hampered by the way you utilize the technology tools you have available.

Let’s just look at two examples you will want to attend to if your ‘system’ has clogged arteries: email and electronic files.

Three key tips on how to use email effectively thereby keeping it from clogging up the works are:

Only check periodically through the day (vs. all day).
Empty your inbox daily.
Learn how to use your email software, whether it’s Outlook, Gmail, or any brand. There are tools there to support you – or thwart you. Learn and choose wisely.
As far as your electronic files are concerned, you need to be able to find what you have on your hard drive (just as you need to be able to find what you have in your paper files). A few tools to check out:

If you use a Mac, of course, there is a great search tool that is part of why people love their Macs.
If you have a PC and use Vista, it has an excellent search tool built in. I am loving it!
If you don’t have Vista, then consider one of the following: Easy Reach, Copernic, or Google Desktop. There are others, too. The main idea is that you need to have software that has already indexed your hard drive so that a search is as fast as Google
Just as your physical health needs to be monitored, so, too does the health of your organization. An excellent way to keep checking the pulse of your productivity is to join others (worldwide) who receive Meggin’s weekly emails (and check out what is available for download at no cost at the following websites):

**Top Ten Productivity Tips (http://www.TopTenProductivityTips.com)

**Keys to Keeping Chaos at Bay (http://www.KeepingChaosatBay.com)

(c) 2009 by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D., “The Ph.D. of Productivity”(tm). Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin McIntosh works with bright people who want to be more productive so that they can consistently put their emphasis on excellence. If this sounds like you, I look forward to having you in our group!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Meggin_McIntosh

http://www.meggin.com/


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We thought the following information, taken from the Recordkeeping section of IRS.gov, would be helpful in getting organized in your paper filing system and in deciding document management retention. The Paper Tiger will help you not only keep track of your paper files, but can help you keep track of when to discard records if you remember to use the Action Date and Category sections once you’ve made your decisions in how long to keep your records.

How long should I keep records?

The length of time you should keep a document depends on the action, expense, or event the document records. Generally, you must keep your records that support an item of income or deductions on a tax return until the period of limitations for that return runs out.

The period of limitations is the period of time in which you can amend your tax return to claim a credit or refund, or that the IRS can assess additional tax. The below information contains the periods of limitations that apply to income tax returns. Unless otherwise stated, the years refer to the period after the return was filed. Returns filed before the due date are treated as filed on the due date.

Note: Keep copies of your filed tax returns. They help in preparing future tax returns and making computations if you file an amended return.

1. You owe additional tax and situations (2), (3), and (4), below, do not apply to you; keep records for 3 years.
2. You do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return; keep records for 6 years.
3. You file a fraudulent return; keep records indefinitely.
4. You do not file a return; keep records indefinitely.
5. You file a claim for credit or refund* after you file your return; keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
6. You file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction; keep records for 7 years.
7. Keep all employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.

The following questions should be applied to each record as you decide whether to keep a document or throw it away.

Are the records connected to assets?
Keep records relating to property until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the property in a taxable disposition. You must keep these records to figure any depreciation, amortization, or depletion deduction and to figure the gain or loss when you sell or otherwise dispose of the property.

Generally, if you received property in a nontaxable exchange, your basis in that property is the same as the bases of the property you gave up, increased by any money you paid. You must keep the records on the old property, as well as on the new property, until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the new property in a taxable disposition.

What should do with my records for nontax purposes?
When your records are no longer needed for tax purposes, do not discard them until you check to see if you have to keep them longer for other purposes. For example, your insurance company or creditors may require you to keep them longer than the IRS does.

Why Keep Records?

There are many reasons to keep records. In addition to tax purposes, you may need to keep records for insurance purposes or for getting a loan. Good records will help you:

  • Identify sources of income. You may receive money or property from a variety of sources. Your records can identify the sources of your income. You need this information to separate business from nonbusiness income and taxable from nontaxable income.
  • Keep track of expenses. You may forget an expense unless you record it when it occurs. You can use your records to identify expenses for which you can claim a deduction. This will help you determine if you can itemize deductions on your tax return.
  • Keep track of the basis of property. You need to keep records that show the basis of your property. This includes the original cost or other basis of the property and any improvements you made.
  • Prepare tax returns. You need records to prepare your tax return. Good records help you to file quickly and accurately.
  • Support items reported on tax returns. You must keep records in case the IRS has a question about an item on your return. If the IRS examines your tax return, you may be asked to explain the items reported. Good records will help you explain any item and arrive at the correct tax with a minimum of effort. If you do not have records, you may have to spend time getting statements and receipts from various sources. If you cannot produce the correct documents, you may have to pay additional tax and be subject to penalties.

Kinds of Records To Keep

The IRS does not require you to keep your records in a particular way. Keep them in a manner that allows you and the IRS to determine your correct tax.

You can use your checkbook to keep a record of your income and expenses. In your checkbook you should record amounts, sources of deposits, and types of expenses. You also need to keep documents, such as receipts and sales slips, that can help prove a deduction.

You should keep your records in an orderly fashion and in a safe place. Keep them by year and type of income or expense. One method is to keep all records related to a particular item in a designated envelope.

In this section you will find guidance about basic records that everyone should keep. The section also provides guidance about specific records you should keep for certain items.

Computerized records. Many retail stores sell computer software packages that you can use for recordkeeping. These packages are relatively easy to use and require little knowledge of bookkeeping and accounting.   If you use a computerized system, you must be able to produce legible records of the information needed to determine your correct tax liability. In addition to your computerized records, you must keep proof of payment, receipts, and other documents to prove the amounts shown on your tax return.
Copies of tax returns. You should keep copies of your tax returns as part of your tax records. They can help you prepare future tax returns, and you will need them if you file an amended return. Copies of your returns and other records can be helpful to your survivor or the executor or administrator of your estate.   If necessary, you can request a copy of a return and all attachments (including Form W-2) from the IRS by using Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. There is a charge for a copy of a return. For information on the cost and where to file, see the Form 4506 instructions.
If you just need information from your return, you can order a transcript by calling 1-800-829-1040, or using Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return. There is no fee for a transcript. For more information, see Form 4506-T.

Basic Records

Basic records are documents that everybody should keep. These are the records that prove your income and expenses. If you own a home or investments, your basic records should contain documents related to those items. Table 1 lists documents you should keep as basic records. Following Table 1 are examples of information you can get from these records.

Table 1. Proof of Income and Expense

FOR items concerning your… KEEP as basic records…
Income
  • Form(s) W-2
  • Form(s) 1099
  • Bank statements
  • Brokerage statements
  • Form(s) K-1
Expenses
  • Sales slips
  • Invoices
  • Receipts
  • Canceled checks or other proof of payment
  • Written communications from qualified charities
Home
  • Closing statements
  • Purchase and sales invoices
  • Proof of payment
  • Insurance records
  • Receipts for improvement costs
Investments
  • Brokerage statements
  • Mutual fund statements
  • Form(s) 1099
  • Form(s) 2439
Income. Your basic records prove the amounts you report as income on your tax return. Your income may include wages, dividends, interest, and partnership or S corporation distributions. Your records also can prove that certain amounts are not taxable, such as tax-exempt interest.

Note.

If you receive a Form W-2, keep Copy C until you begin receiving social security benefits. This will help protect your benefits in case there is a question about your work record or earnings in a particular year. Review the information shown on your annual (for workers over age 25) Social Security Statement.

Expenses. Your basic records prove the expenses for which you claim a deduction (or credit) on your tax return. Your deductions may include alimony, charitable contributions, mortgage interest, and real estate taxes. You may also have child care expenses for which you can claim a credit.
Home. Your basic records should enable you to determine the basis or adjusted basis of your home. You need this information to determine if you have a gain or loss when you sell your home or to figure depreciation if you use part of your home for business purposes or for rent. Your records should show the purchase price, settlement or closing costs, and the cost of any improvements. They may also show any casualty losses deducted and insurance reimbursements for casualty losses. Your records should also include a copy of Form 2119, Sale of Your Home, if you sold your previous home before May 7, 1997, and postponed tax on the gain from that sale.   For information on which settlement or closing costs are included in the basis of your home, see Publication 530, Tax Information for First-Time Homeowners. For information on basis, including the basis of property you receive other than by purchase, see Publication 551, Basis of Assets.   When you sell your home, your records should show the sales price and any selling expenses, such as commissions. For information on selling your home, see Publication 523, Selling Your Home.
Investments. Your basic records should enable you to determine your basis in an investment and whether you have a gain or loss when you sell it. Investments include stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Your records should show the purchase price, sales price, and commissions. They may also show any reinvested dividends, stock splits and dividends, load charges, and original issue discount (OID).   For information on stocks and bonds, see Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses. For information on mutual funds, see Publication 564, Mutual Fund Distributions.

Proof of Payment

One of your basic records is proof of payment. You should keep these records to support certain amounts shown on your tax return. Proof of payment alone is not proof that the item claimed on your return is allowable. You should also keep other documents that will help prove that the item is allowable.

Generally, you prove payment with a cash receipt, financial account statement, credit card statement, canceled check, or substitute check. If you make payments in cash, you should get a dated and signed receipt showing the amount and the reason for the payment.

If you make payments by electronic funds transfer you may be able to prove payment with an account statement.

Table 2. Proof of Payment

IF payment is by… THEN the statement must show the…
Cash
  • Amount
  • Payee’s name
  • Transaction date
Check
  • Check number
  • Amount
  • Payee’s name
  • Date the check amount was posted to the account by the financial institution
Debit or credit card
  • Amount charged
  • Payee’s name
  • Transaction date
Electronic funds transfer
  • Amount transferred
  • Payee’s name
  • Date the transfer was posted to the account by the financial institution
Payroll deduction
  • Amount
  • Payee code
  • Transaction date
Account statements. You may be able to prove payment with a legible financial account statement prepared by your bank or other financial institution. These statements are accepted as proof of payment if they show the items reflected in Table 2.
Pay statements. You may have deductible expenses withheld from your paycheck, such as union dues or medical insurance premiums. You should keep your year-end or final pay statements as proof of payment of these expenses.

Specific Records

This section is an alphabetical list of some items that require specific records in addition to your basic records.

Alimony

If you receive or pay alimony, you should keep a copy of your written separation agreement or the divorce, separate maintenance, or support decree. If you pay alimony, you will also need to know your former spouse’s social security number. For information on alimony, see Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals.

Business Use of Your Home

You may be able to deduct certain expenses connected with the business use of your home. You should keep records that show the part of your home that you use for business and the expenses related to that use. For information on how to allocate expenses between business and personal use, see Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home.

Casualty and Theft Losses

To deduct a casualty or theft loss, you must be able to prove that you had a casualty or theft. Your records also must be able to support the amount you claim.

For a casualty loss, your records should show:

  • The type of casualty (car accident, fire, storm, etc.) and when it occurred,
  • That the loss was a direct result of the casualty, and
  • That you were the owner of the property.

For a theft loss, your records should show:

  • When you discovered your property was missing,
  • That your property was stolen, and
  • That you were the owner of the property.

For more information, see Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts. For a workbook designed to help you figure your loss, see Publication 584, Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook (Personal-Use Property).

Child Care Credit

You must give the name, address, and taxpayer identification number for all persons or organizations that provide care for your child or dependent. You can use Form W-10, Dependent Care Provider’s Identification and Certification, or various other sources to get the information from the care provider. Keep this information with your tax records. For information on the credit, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.

Contributions

You must keep records to prove the contributions you make during the year. The kinds of records depend on whether the contribution is cash, noncash, or out-of-pocket expenses. For information on contributions and the records you must keep, see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled

If you are under age 65, you must have your physician complete a statement certifying that you were permanently and totally disabled on the date you retired.

You do not have to file this statement with your Form 1040 or Form 1040A, but you must keep it for your records.

If the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) certifies that you are permanently and totally disabled, you can substitute VA Form 21-0172, Certification of Permanent and Total Disability, for the physician’s statement you are required to keep.

See Publication 524, Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled, for more information.

Education Expenses

If you have the records to prove your expenses, you may be entitled to claim certain tax benefits for your education expenses. You may qualify to exclude from income items such as a qualified scholarship, interest on U.S. savings bonds, or reimbursement from your employer. You may also qualify for certain credits or deductions. You should keep documents such as transcripts or course descriptions that show periods of enrollment, and canceled checks and receipts that verify amounts you spent on tuition, books, and other educational expenses.

For information on qualified education expenses, see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.

Exemptions

If you are claiming an exemption for a qualifying relative under a multiple support agreement, you must get a signed statement from all other eligible individuals who could claim the exemption. You must keep these statements in your records. For information on exemptions, see Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.

Employee Business Expenses

If you have employee business expenses, see Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses, for a discussion of what records to keep.

Gambling Winnings and Losses

You must keep an accurate diary of your winnings and losses that includes the:

  • Date and type of gambling activity,
  • Name and address or location of the gambling establishment,
  • Names of other persons present with you at the gambling establishment, and
  • Amount you won or lost.

In addition to your diary, you should keep other documents. See the discussion related to gambling losses in Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions, for documents you should keep.

Health Savings Account (HSA) and Medical Savings Account (MSA)

For each qualified medical expense you pay with a distribution from your HSA or MSA, you must keep a record of the name and address of each person you paid and the amount and date of the payment. For more information, see Publication 969, Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans.

Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)

Keep copies of the following forms and records until all distributions are made from your IRA(s).

  • Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information, or similar statement received for each year showing contributions you made, distributions you received, and the value of your IRA(s).
  • Form 1099-R, Distribution From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc., received for each year you received a distribution.
  • Form 8606, Nondeductible IRAs, for each year you made a nondeductible contribution to your IRA or received distributions from an IRA if you ever made nondeductible contributions.

For a worksheet you can use to keep a record of yearly contributions and distributions, see Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs).

Medical and Dental Expenses

In addition to records you keep of regular medical expenses, you should keep records of transportation expenses that are primarily for and essential to medical care. You can record these expenses in a diary. You should record gas and oil expenses directly related to that transportation. If you do not want to keep records of your actual expenses, you can keep a log of the miles you drive your car for medical purposes and use the standard mileage rate. You should also keep records of any parking fees, tolls, taxi fares, and bus fares.

For information on medical expenses and the standard mileage rate, see Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses (Including the Health Coverage Tax Credit).

Mortgage Interest

If you paid mortgage interest of $600 or more, you should receive Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement. Keep this form and your mortgage statement and loan information in your records. For information on mortgage interest, see Publication 936, Home Mortgage Interest Deduction.

Moving Expenses

You may be able to deduct qualified moving expenses that are not reimbursed. For more information on what expenses qualify and what records you need, see Publication 521, Moving Expenses.

Pensions and Annuities

Use the worksheet in your tax return instructions to figure the taxable part of your pension or annuity. Keep a copy of the completed worksheet until you fully recover your contributions. For information on pensions and annuities, see Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income, or Publication 721, Tax Guide to U.S. Civil Service Retirement Benefits.

Taxes

Form(s) W-2 and Form(s) 1099-R show state income tax withheld from your wages and pensions. You should keep a copy of these forms to prove the amount of state withholding. If you made estimated state income tax payments, you need to keep a copy of the form or your check(s).

You also need to keep copies of your state income tax returns. If you received a refund of state income taxes, the state may send you Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments.

Keep mortgage statements, tax assessments, or other documents as records of the real estate and personal property taxes you paid.

If you deducted actual state and local general sales taxes instead of using the optional state sales tax tables, you must keep your actual receipts showing general sales taxes paid.

Tips

You must keep a daily record to accurately report your tips on your return. You can use Form 4070A, Employee’s Daily Record of Tips, which is found in Publication 1244, Employee’s Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer, to record your tips. For information on tips, see Publication 531, Reporting Tip Income.

How Long To Keep Records

You must keep your records as long as they may be needed for the administration of any provision of the Internal Revenue Code. Generally, this means you must keep records that support items shown on your return until the period of limitations for that return runs out.

The period of limitations is the period of time in which you can amend your return to claim a credit or refund or the IRS can assess additional tax. Table 3 contains the periods of limitations that apply to income tax returns. Unless otherwise stated, the years refer to the period beginning after the return was filed. Returns filed before the due date are treated as being filed on the due date.

Table 3. Period of Limitations

IF you… THEN the
period is…
1 Owe additional tax and
(2), (3), and (4) do not
apply to you
3 years
2 Do not report income that
you should and it is more
than 25% of the gross
income shown on your
return
6 years
3 File a fraudulent return No limit
4 Do not file a return No limit
5 File a claim for credit or
refund after you filed
your return
Later of 3 years or 2 years after tax was paid.
6 File a claim for a loss from
worthless securities
7 years
Property. Keep records relating to property until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the property in a taxable disposition. You must keep these records to figure your basis for computing gain or loss when you sell or otherwise dispose of the property.   Generally, if you received property in a nontaxable exchange, your basis in that property is the same as the basis of the property you gave up. You must keep the records on the old property, as well as the new property, until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the new property in a taxable disposition.
Keeping records for nontax purposes. When your records are no longer needed for tax purposes, do not discard them until you check to see if they should be kept longer for other purposes. Your insurance company or creditors may require you to keep certain records longer than the IRS does.

How To Get Tax Help

You can get help with unresolved tax issues, order free publications and forms, ask tax questions, and get information from the IRS in several ways. By selecting the method that is best for you, you will have quick and easy access to tax help.

Contacting your Taxpayer Advocate. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS whose employees assist taxpayers who are experiencing economic harm, who are seeking help in resolving tax problems that have not been resolved through normal channels, or who believe that an IRS system or procedure is not working as it should.   You can contact the TAS by calling the TAS toll-free case intake line at 1-877-777-4778 or TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059 to see if you are eligible for assistance. You can also call or write your local taxpayer advocate, whose phone number and address are listed in your local telephone directory and in Publication 1546, Taxpayer Advocate Service—Your Voice at the IRS. You can file Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (And Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order), or ask an IRS employee to complete it on your behalf. For more information, go to www.irs.gov/advocate.
Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs). LITCs are independent organizations that provide low income taxpayers with representation in federal tax controversies with the IRS for free or for a nominal charge. The clinics also provide tax education and outreach for taxpayers who speak English as a second language. Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List, provides information on clinics in your area. It is available at www.irs.gov or your local IRS office.
Free tax services. To find out what services are available, get Publication 910, IRS Guide to Free Tax Services. It contains lists of free tax information sources, including publications, services, and free tax education and assistance programs. It also has an index of over 100 TeleTax topics (recorded tax information) you can listen to on your telephone.   Accessible versions of IRS published products are available on request in a variety of alternative formats for people with disabilities.
Free help with your return. Free help in preparing your return is available nationwide from IRS-trained volunteers. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is designed to help low-income taxpayers and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program is designed to assist taxpayers age 60 and older with their tax returns. Many VITA sites offer free electronic filing and all volunteers will let you know about credits and deductions you may be entitled to claim. To find the nearest VITA or TCE site, call 1-800-829-1040.   As part of the TCE program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program. To find the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, call 1-888-227-7669 or visit AARP’s website at www.aarp.org/money/taxaide.   For more information on these programs, go to
www.irs.gov and enter keyword “VITA” in the upper right-hand corner.

Internet. You can access the IRS website at www.irs.gov 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to:

  • E-file your return. Find out about commercial tax preparation and e-file services available free to eligible taxpayers.
  • Check the status of your 2008 refund. Go to www.irs.gov and click on Where’s My Refund. Wait at least 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after mailing a paper return. If you filed Form 8379 with your return, wait 14 weeks (11 weeks if you filed electronically). Have your 2008 tax return available so you can provide your social security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund.
  • Download forms, instructions, and publications.
  • Order IRS products online.
  • Research your tax questions online.
  • Search publications online by topic or keyword.
  • View Internal Revenue Bulletins (IRBs) published in the last few years.
  • Figure your withholding allowances using the withholding calculator online at www.irs.gov/individuals.
  • Determine if Form 6251 must be filed by using our Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Assistant.
  • Sign up to receive local and national tax news by email.
  • Get information on starting and operating a small business.

Phone. Many services are available by phone.

  • Ordering forms, instructions, and publications. Call 1-800-829-3676 to order current-year forms, instructions, and publications, and prior-year forms and instructions. You should receive your order within 10 days.
  • Asking tax questions. Call the IRS with your tax questions at 1-800-829-1040.
  • Solving problems. You can get face-to-face help solving tax problems every business day in IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. An employee can explain IRS letters, request adjustments to your account, or help you set up a payment plan. Call your local Taxpayer Assistance Center for an appointment. To find the number, go to www.irs.gov/localcontacts or look in the phone book under United States Government, Internal Revenue Service.
  • TTY/TDD equipment. If you have access to TTY/TDD equipment, call 1-800-829-4059 to ask tax questions or to order forms and publications.
  • TeleTax topics. Call 1-800-829-4477 to listen to pre-recorded messages covering various tax topics.
  • Refund information. To check the status of your 2008 refund, call 1-800-829-1954 during business hours or 1-800-829-4477 (automated refund information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Wait at least 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after mailing a paper return. If you filed Form 8379 with your return, wait 14 weeks (11 weeks if you filed electronically). Have your 2008 tax return available so you can provide your social security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. Refunds are sent out weekly on Fridays. If you check the status of your refund and are not given the date it will be issued, please wait until the next week before checking back.
  • Other refund information. To check the status of a prior year refund or amended return refund, call 1-800-829-1954.

Evaluating the quality of our telephone services. To ensure IRS representatives give accurate, courteous, and professional answers, we use several methods to evaluate the quality of our telephone services. One method is for a second IRS representative to listen in on or record random telephone calls. Another is to ask some callers to complete a short survey at the end of the call. Walk-in. Many products and services are available on a walk-in basis.

  • Products. You can walk in to many post offices, libraries, and IRS offices to pick up certain forms, instructions, and publications. Some IRS offices, libraries, grocery stores, copy centers, city and county government offices, credit unions, and office supply stores have a collection of products available to print from a CD or photocopy from reproducible proofs. Also, some IRS offices and libraries have the Internal Revenue Code, regulations, Internal Revenue Bulletins, and Cumulative Bulletins available for research purposes.
  • Services. You can walk in to your local Taxpayer Assistance Center every business day for personal, face-to-face tax help. An employee can explain IRS letters, request adjustments to your tax account, or help you set up a payment plan. If you need to resolve a tax problem, have questions about how the tax law applies to your individual tax return, or you are more comfortable talking with someone in person, visit your local Taxpayer Assistance Center where you can spread out your records and talk with an IRS representative face-to-face. No appointment is necessary—just walk in. If you prefer, you can call your local Center and leave a message requesting an appointment to resolve a tax account issue. A representative will call you back within 2 business days to schedule an in-person appointment at your convenience. If you have an ongoing, complex tax account problem or a special need, such as a disability, an appointment can be requested. All other issues will be handled without an appointment. To find the number of your local office, go to
    www.irs.gov/localcontacts or look in the phone book under United States Government, Internal Revenue Service.

Mail. You can send your order for forms, instructions, and publications to the address below. You should receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

Internal Revenue Service
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613

DVD for tax products. You can order Publication 1796, IRS Tax Products DVD, and obtain:

  • Current-year forms, instructions, and publications.
  • Prior-year forms, instructions, and publications.
  • Tax Map: an electronic research tool and finding aid.
  • Tax law frequently asked questions.
  • Tax Topics from the IRS telephone response system.
  • Internal Revenue Code—Title 26 of the U.S. Code.
  • Fill-in, print, and save features for most tax forms.
  • Internal Revenue Bulletins.
  • Toll-free and email technical support.
  • Two releases during the year.
    – The first release will ship the beginning of January 2009.
    – The final release will ship the beginning of March 2009.

Purchase the DVD from National Technical Information Service (NTIS) at www.irs.gov/cdorders for $30 (no handling fee) or call 1-877-233-6767 toll free to buy the DVD for $30 (plus a $5 handling fee). The price is discounted to $25 for orders placed prior to December 1, 2008. Small Business Resource Guide 2009. This online guide is a must for every small business owner or any taxpayer about to start a business. This year’s guide includes:

  • Helpful information, such as how to prepare a business plan, find financing for your business, and much more.
  • All the business tax forms, instructions, and publications needed to successfully manage a business.
  • Tax law changes for 2009.
  • Tax Map: an electronic research tool and finding aid.
  • Web links to various government agencies, business associations, and IRS organizations.
  • Rate the Product” survey—your opportunity to suggest changes for future editions.
  • A site map of the guide to help you navigate the pages with ease.
  • An interactive “Teens in Biz” module that gives practical tips for teens about starting their own business, creating a business plan, and filing taxes.

The information is updated during the year. Visit
www.irs.gov and enter keyword “SBRG” in the upper right-hand corner for more information.

References/Related Topics

* Publication 535, Business Expenses
* Publication 536, Net Operating Losses
* Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts (Business and Non-Business)
* Publication 552, Recordkeeping for Individuals
* Publication 594, The IRS Collection Process (PDF)
* Publication 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records
* Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide
* Recordkeeping


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