Author Topic: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge  (Read 2759 times)

Rosy

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Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« on: August 06, 2019, 07:48:05 AM »
This is a challenge inspired by @Syonyk
1. Fix your paper mess
2. Sort and clean up your e-mail accounts/folders
3. Set up a better/new/improved system for your important papers

A. The ultimate goal is to find a different approach to tackle the daily influx of e-mails and barrage of junk/mail during this process.
B. Set a deadline for completion and report your progress once a week.

Please share your progress past and present - trials and triumphs, and any relevant links to help us all conquer the paper tiger!

I need an intervention! I am literally drowning in a sea of paper. I have stacks of papers to be filed and still another six boxes sorted/unsorted.
Never mind the 29,000 e-mails in my promotion e-mail folder, thx google, or the 12,000 in my primary e-mail folder or the 7,200 in the social folder.
Same for Mr. R., despite both of our attempts to keep the clutter under control and organized for functionality.

This morning I decided to look for a professional in my area to help sort out this infestation. But then I realized the first thing that a professional would ask me to do is sort it all out - so that is what I'll do, finish up what I started 2-3 years ago. I am desperate to get a handle on this, once and for all.
That is when I saw @Syonyk 's post discussing how he tackled his paper tiger and e-mail (junk) folders over a period of several months, impressive and inspiring.

So I am hoping to find some cohorts for mutual support and sharing of success stories as we tackle the avalanche of papers together.
Right now I feel defeated and depressed every time I walk in my otherwise beautiful study.

I have tried valiantly to get rid of those last few boxes of papers over time, there were about three times as many much larger boxes when I started about two /three years ago.
So this will be my final push.

The last push, produced a workable system - I can put my hand on all my important papers at once, which I have managed to keep up with but only with an 80% success rate.
I also made an emergency folder in case of a disaster that I can just grab and leave when a hurricane approaches.
Then I started on an in case of my death folder - list of passwords, info, ...

Life intervened. I am not happy looking at all that unfinished business, a tower - no, several towers! - of papers and an e-mail account that once again has totally gotten out of hand.

THE PLAN
Start today - report in weekly - do as little or as much as I can handle, but do something every day.
I am targeting 30 days to deal with the e-mail and junk mail, 60 days for sorting/filing/shredding the stacks of paper in the study now and 90 days for finally clearing out the remaining, festering boxes full of paper from eons ago.
 
It is time to not just tame but slay the paper tiger ...
I thought about sharing a picture of the before and after, but that would be way too embarrassing.

List of helpful links
1. The GTD approach to emails: https://unpacked.mailbutler.io/2019/01/09/gtd-email-inbox-zero-flowchart/
2. An intriguing idea for personal email - http://danariely.com/2017/02/23/email-notifications/
3. How long to keep important documents https://bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com/en/privacy-security/how-long-to-keep-documents-before-shredding
4. Wills - POA - living - https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/get-your-shit-together!-wills-living-wills-poas-life-insurance-etc/
5. Health directives - end-of-life conversations - http://www.livingsmartguides.com/assets/01_livingsmart_endoflifechecklist.pd
https://theconversationproject.org/
« Last Edit: August 15, 2019, 08:37:01 AM by Rosy »

partgypsy

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2019, 02:18:14 PM »
I haven't done this yet but it's an intriguing idea for my personal email

http://danariely.com/2017/02/23/email-notifications/

lollylegs

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2019, 03:38:45 PM »
I'm in - for home & for work.  I have a huge stack of papers and filing to sort out in both places.

Home - I have the kitchen table half covered in paperwork and one 3 drawer filing cabinet which needs to be cleaned out and a lot shredded.There are personal household files and also files from when I had my own business - I need to check if they have passed the time required before they can be shredded. I need to sort out old paperwork that was mums and I need to sort out my email - too many subscriptions - and set up a new system.


Work
My work email is good - I am an inbox empty person as per GTD & that is the system I want to get back to.
Papers - I have a lot of paperwork that needs to be caught up in the next 8 weeks - lots of client files & work documents that are not up to date - this is the main priority.
There are a lot of old files that need sorting and moving and there is a huge amount of paper resources that are now out of date that I need to go through.

The GTD approach to emails: https://unpacked.mailbutler.io/2019/01/09/gtd-email-inbox-zero-flowchart/
« Last Edit: August 06, 2019, 03:40:20 PM by lollylegs »

Rosy

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2019, 04:24:08 PM »
Thanks partygypsy
Definitely thought-provoking ^^^ and another good reason to trim down our e-mails.
Anything left undone is a mental drain, it tugs at your subconscious.

I did start with this challenge today and spent a good two hours on tackling the e-mail barrage.
1. Unsubscribed from about 8 sites some with sub-sites - total maybe 16 or so.
2. Deleted all the e-mails from the social as well as every e-mail under promotion.
3. The primary e-mail is now down to 11,315 - dating back to 2016.

Had to google how to mass delete on g-mail so I could delete all e-mails in the promotion folder and the social folder - at one time. Surprisingly easy, but since I had so many it took a longer moment to delete them all.

The primary e-mail will take some time as I will have to comb through those one page at a time. I'm debating whether I should delete all e-mails older than 2-3 years en masse there is a way to do that in gmail, but what if there is something in there I need?

Rosy

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2019, 05:31:41 PM »
GTD - that sounds promising @lollylegs  - I'll read up on that link before I embark on the next step.

https://unpacked.mailbutler.io/2019/01/09/gtd-email-inbox-zero-flowchart/

I'll move all links into the first post - so we have a list of links to help us through this process.
Thanks and welcome to the challenge lollylegs.

better late

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2019, 08:10:25 PM »
Iím in! Hope itís ok to start with paperwork though. I have so many file folders of old information. Bought a shredder at Costco last week. I need a little encouragement, some direction to know whatís ok to shred, and a lot of time! Thanks for the challenge!!

Rosy

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2019, 09:29:08 AM »
Welcome to the challenge @better late - you are free to devise your own plan of action:). Checking in once a week will help us all with staying on track and feeling accountable:). I am alternating between mail and e-mail and mini projects like setting up a new file cabinet.
I plan to do something every day, even if it is just five minutes of clearing e-mails.

You might find this link helpful: How long to keep important documents?
https://bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com/en/privacy-security/how-long-to-keep-documents-before-shredding

LinneaH

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2019, 09:01:52 AM »
This is really something I should do. Both e-mail and physical paper is out of hand. I started somewhat before summer, then lots of things happened and it was not finished. Maybe 25% done or something.
I am travelling and will not be back home before the 19th but should be able to delete e-mails and unsubscribe on my phone starting now.

Kl285528

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2019, 12:33:12 PM »
in a hurry, but PTF

Rosy

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2019, 03:13:33 PM »
@LinneaH and @Kl285528 welcome to the challenge!:)

Weekly update:
1. No progress on the existing paper clutter - except - I decided to handle the mail daily and file, toss or take action to keep from adding to the existing mayhem.
It feels great to look at that empty spot where the daily mail used to pile up and see nothing but a shiny granite countertop - devoid of paper clutter.

2. E-mails - decent progress - I've been deleting and unsubscribing daily, it will take a while.
Happy to report I deleted over 40,000 e-mails so far, mostly promotions and social plus I started on the primary e-mail.

Next, I'll delete all primary e-mails from Aug 2016 to Aug 2017.

Mongoose

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2019, 04:42:43 PM »
I've been slogging through something similar...though not at this pace. I'm considering joining in....this is a daunting challenge though!

lollylegs

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2019, 11:12:10 PM »
updating for the week -

home - I have been unsubscribing to a lot of email lists as new ones come in. I started deleting old emails - all of 2012 -14 are deleted - still a lot to go

work - I shredded a huge pile of old paperwork, caught up on all files from 2018 except 4 and filed them - still heaps to go but really made quite a dent in it


Rosy

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2019, 08:41:09 AM »
I've been slogging through something similar...though not at this pace. I'm considering joining in....this is a daunting challenge though!

@Mongoose - I feel like I've come to know you a bit over the years of hanging out on this forum together.
You've tackled a lot tougher challenges than this with great success. We can support each other along the way:).
It may be less of a slog if you can devise a different plan than you may have now. If it is making you miserable, perhaps you need a different approach, bite size success stories and rewards for sticking it out and making it all happen:).

An evening of shredding (because you are too exhausted to think about organizing anything much less improve your filing system:), five minutes every day (so you reinforce your commitment on a daily basis) for deleting and unsubscribing from e-mails?

Ultimately, I am aiming for a super clean, uncluttered space - my favorite scented candle and a vase of flowers instead of a stack of paper clutter.
I will make it happen - so what if it is a slog getting there?:)
I am hell-bent on finally slaying the paper tiger - one damn piece of paper at a time!

Rosy

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2019, 08:48:16 AM »
updating for the week -

home - I have been unsubscribing to a lot of email lists as new ones come in. I started deleting old emails - all of 2012 -14 are deleted - still a lot to go

work - I shredded a huge pile of old paperwork, caught up on all files from 2018 except 4 and filed them - still heaps to go but really made quite a dent in it

Great job - impressive progress, lollylegs!

Keep up the good work everyone.
Those papers and e-mails didn't stack up overnight but it is encouraging to see that we can make a year of files disappear in one week.

Plina

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2019, 11:21:44 AM »
Keep up the good work! I had two moving boxes of paper a couple of years ago that I got down to two binders of paper. The funny thing was that I bought a shredder and after I was done with the shredding the shredder was also done. I returned it to the store because it had a warranty and got my money back. Nowadays I use the shredder at the office because the amount is more manageable.

Mongoose

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2019, 06:44:53 PM »
A bit of progress. I sorted through school papers...since we homeschool, I'm required to keep a yearly portfolio for each kid. Last year's papers hadn't been filed. All but 2 subjects are now in a binder. #babysteps

better late

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2019, 08:06:26 PM »
Welcome to the challenge @better late - you are free to devise your own plan of action:). Checking in once a week will help us all with staying on track and feeling accountable:). I am alternating between mail and e-mail and mini projects like setting up a new file cabinet.
I plan to do something every day, even if it is just five minutes of clearing e-mails.

You might find this link helpful: How long to keep important documents?
https://bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com/en/privacy-security/how-long-to-keep-documents-before-shredding

Hi Rosy! Thank you for the link and encouragement. I thought it was 10 years for tax backup paperwork, so I will add 3 years of that to the shredder detail.

I have made zero progress. But it hasn't gotten worse. And I'm planning on taking some time on Thursday to tackle the paper. Maybe putting on a timer for 1 hour will keep me on task.

Happy Little Chipmunk

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2019, 09:57:23 PM »
This is a great challenge!

I have lots of filing cabinets that need weeding (horizontal instead of vertical piles????) I'm going to tie in revamping our wills and making sure financial affairs (and all the appropriate papers!) are in order in case I get hit by a bus or whatever.

I'll spend 15min, 5 days/week on this and track my time with toggle.com. The hard part for me is getting started. If my commitment is only 15 minutes, I'm much more likely to dive in and do the work instead of waiting for the right mood to strike.

It's sort of a derail from this thread, but I'm happy about the end of life planning:
Just last weekend the extend family had a little sit-down instigated by my generation. We want the generation above us to start communicating more about their end of life plans/desires (some folks have more health issues than they used to.) But we know ALL of us could be doing a better job on this, so we are using https://theconversationproject.org/ and http://www.livingsmartguides.com/assets/01_livingsmart_endoflifechecklist.pdf to get started.

Rosy

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2019, 08:28:33 AM »
@Happy Little Chipmunk welcome to the challenge:)! Great plan of action!
I smiled about your "weeding" the file cabinets, lol. I suppose that I am approaching this project in a similar fashion to you. I'm adding in other, long-neglected projects along the way.
Thanks for the links and end-of-life checklist - it will come in handy, adding it to the list of helpful links in my opening post.

Have you seen this thread - a list of great links in the opening post(s).
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/throw-down-the-gauntlet/get-your-shit-together!-wills-living-wills-poas-life-insurance-etc/

The immediate goal is a clean desk, a clean side table, two clean chairs and a new curtain.
1. Clear, sort, make new files for everything on the side table in the study - there is an avalanche waiting to happen:).
2. I will hang a new curtain and dispose of the old.
3. Fix one of the big black leatherette chairs with black duct tape. It needs to be cleaned and Mr. R. needs to re-fasten the screws.
4. Clear off and sort the mess stacked upon the other matching chair - thankfully (almost:) no paper.
 
Meanwhile, I'm still deleting e-mails and unsubscribing plus I have kept the kitchen counter free of incoming mail. I'm challenging myself to keep it clutter-free for at least 30 days.
One can do anything for 30 days, right?:)

About 12 days into a continuously clean and freed up of paper clutter; shiny granite countertop.
Such a small thing but oh so liberating:).

BY MONDAY
Moving all the papers and boxes out into the dining/kitchen area to sort. The first shredding will occur next week ... yay!

Then it's on to the bookcase, two filing cabinets and a storage cabinet - yeah it is daunting, not to mention that there is a china cabinet to be cleaned inside out. Each one may take up a day - so that's another week - we'll see how it all goes.
There is a closet too (no papers thankfully), and for the first time ever two big stacks of papers on the floor, WTF, that is hoarder territory.
Looking forward to an uncluttered study - with fresh flowers and a scented candle.
Well, that is the plan - we'll see how it goes.
I'll update on Monday.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2019, 08:39:07 AM by Rosy »

better late

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2019, 11:04:33 AM »

Shredded 3 years of tax return backup information. That was fun with my new shredder from Costco (and NO paper detritus when I cleaned it out).  Felt like low hanging fruit but I'll take it.

Is there any reason to keep paperwork from homes bought and sold (so no longer owned by us) longer than 7 years ago?  I will sheepishly admit I have the closing documents from homes we owned  20 and 30 years ago.   

First pass on the internet says no but couldn't find anything written by anyone with any obvious expertise either.

Thanks!

lollylegs

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2019, 02:41:56 PM »
I had a good week with this challenge.

work -I had a lot of cancellations at work this week so I was able to clean out my filing cabinet and cupboard of out of date papers - so all the excess physical paper is now gone from my office - it feels so good to have it done! I was ruthless on throwing out years of paper resources that I had collected but rarely use now, as most stuff is online. My next goal at work is sorting and catching up on the filing.

home - not a lot done here, just throwing out obvious paper rubbish off the dining room table. My plan for this week is to get the table cleared off - its got paperwork all over it. each day I am unsubscribing from email lists.

Mongoose

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2019, 09:00:23 PM »
Removed myself from two more email subscriptions.

Tomorrow I will sort the weeks mail and get rid of everything that can leave. I get so much physical junk mail, it's amazing. Have had zero luck stopping the incoming flow.

Other things that need to be on the to do list (on hold until September 14 due to work):
filling the new insurance information, scanning health information, removing stubs from paid bills. I'm trying to shred/recycle as much as possible.

Rosy

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #22 on: August 27, 2019, 03:59:25 PM »
Slow progress, but progress nevertheless.
Created new files, threw out junk. Sorted existing files and set up a separate file cabinet for dead files like closed bank accounts.
Keeping up with unsubscribing and deleting e-mails and keeping the kitchen counter clear of papers.

Not much slaying going on at present - more like swatting into the air:).

better late

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #23 on: August 27, 2019, 09:08:13 PM »
Set up a file to corral medical receipts to eventually submit to HSA.
Changed a subscription to be digital only so paper doesnít come to house.

Moonwaves

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2019, 02:07:25 AM »
That timeline is way too ambitious for me but I have similar quantities of paper calling out to be sorted and filed properly. At which stage I will think about starting to digitise what I can to reduce the physical space needed. But I need to have it all organised before I do that because, well, because of the way my brain works really. The thoughts of starting to digitise stuff before I have finished sorting what I have makes me kind of panicky.

After coming through a rough patch, I have had a couple of days of actually managing to do some stuff (hooray for hugely reduced quantities of dust in my apartment!) and had even decided that this evening was going to be the time to start in on the papers. So this is very timely. My plan for this evening is to sort through everything currently taking up most of the table and pull out anything relevant for my 2018 tax return, so I can send all that to my accountant next week. And to find the details for the gym I joined last year so that I can cancel the membership before it's too late (will always hate the German standard of cancelling things in writing only, three months before the end of the contract!). The remaining, semi-sorted, piles will then be moved over to the writing desk. Currently, the writing desk is full of a whole load of stuff I shoved in there and closed the lid on the last time I was going on holidays - just to make it feel a bit like I had tidied up before I left. I'll open it up and the piles from the dining table can move over there. Primary goal is actually to clear the dining table and be strict going forward about clearing it off every evening, and at the weekend at the very latest. Secondary goal will be to clear the writing desk so that I can actually use it for working again. Which will also help with the dining table not getting so cluttered all the time.

After today, I may go back to a 5-a-day method I've used successfully in the past to deal with overwhelming amounts of stuff. It's basically what it sounds like. Take 5 things from the pile every day and file/dump. But only 5 because that way it's just a few minutes and it's less overwhelming, I don't dread it all day, and more importantly, I don't try to convince myself tomorrow that because I did more than 5 today, I can skip a day.

E-Mail is a whole other kettle of fish but at least in my new job I've managed almost three full months and still going strong on keeping the inbox under control (i.e. emails in inbox less than half a screen, which is about 20 emails). My decades-old yahoo addresses will have to wait a while longer to get properly sorted.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2019, 02:09:51 AM by Moonwaves »

Rosy

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2019, 01:30:38 PM »
@Moonwaves I'm definitely adopting this method right now - brilliant!

Quote
After today, I may go back to a 5-a-day method I've used successfully in the past to deal with overwhelming amounts of stuff. It's basically what it sounds like. Take 5 things from the pile every day and file/dump. But only 5 because that way it's just a few minutes and it's less overwhelming,

I feel a bit stuck, but have managed to keep the kitchen counter clear of mail and am still working on the e-mail cleanse.
Along with two small projects - but nowhere near what I hoped to accomplish by now.

If I can manage one good day I'd feel more motivated. I do really like the five-a-day method idea.

zee dot

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #26 on: October 06, 2019, 01:42:57 PM »
This thread inspired me to tackle my home desk today.
Photo says 1000 words.

lollylegs

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #27 on: November 14, 2019, 02:00:50 PM »
haven't checked in for a while but still working on this challenge.

At work I've been finishing up one file a day, if I can keep doing that I will be completely caught up by then end of year break which is my goal.

At home - I have been doing a bit more shredding, but I need to get back into this weekend. still have too many papers taking up space on the kitchen table.

DaMa

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Re: Finally slay that paper tiger - 30-60-90 day challenge
« Reply #28 on: November 14, 2019, 03:43:08 PM »
GTD saved me from paper/email hell.

I set up a rule in Outlook so that any email I sent went to my Inbox and set the font to blue for emails from me.  I would also delete the email I was responding to.  I worked only from the inbox.  I had several other senders in different colors, too.  Bold red for my boss.  Bold magenta for his boss.  Green for people I worked closely with.  The colors helped me deal with those emails first.

I used to have a 4 drawer file cabinet full of personal paper, but in 2009 I started paring down.  I think I have it down to a minimal level and keep it all in one of those small file boxes with a handle and a plastic folder box the size of a computer paper box.

Hanging folder
 - file folder: paperwork

Finances
  - Banking: Latest bank guide/manual type paperwork for banks with open accounts
  - Current CC:  same
  - Closed accounts:  Letters stating account closed.  I still ask for one to be mailed whenever I close an account.
Home/Car
 - Home: Insurance, Mortgage and Deed or Lease
 - Car: Insurance, Loan/Lease docs, Title and Receipts
Documents
 - End of Life: life insurance, medical POA, list of accounts, etc. (this is the one my DD knows to go to).
 - Important Docs: birth/marriage certs, SS card, etc
 - Medical: this is stuff I hang onto for future reference like labs, MRI reports, etc.
Receipts
 - Any receipts I hang onto go in here and I try to go through it once a year and throw out whatever doesn't need saving.
Current year
 - 2019 Taxes:  Anything going into taxes for this year, except medical
 - Medical: At end of year, I move any receipts that apply to my HSA withdrawal to that year's tax file. 
 - Anything else I keep goes into the hanging folder without a file folder and eventually ends up in the trash or filed elsewhere
Taxes Last 3 years (2016-2018) - 3 folders containing any supporting docs and filing for each year

Storage box
Taxes Previous 3 years (2013-2015)
Genealogy, Childrens' papers, Memorabilia, Work/School Related, etc.