Unclutter Your Taxes

dw_usa(To our loyal readers in Canada and abroad, we’re striving to one day make emails like this relevant to you.)

OK, beautiful people. You’ve got 76 days until April 15th. Are you ready?

Probably not. We’re not. So we coaxed Erin Doland, renowned as the Unclutterer, author of “Unclutter Your Life in One Week”—and featured by The New York Times yesterday, to share her personal paperwork organizing tips.

Taming Receipts—Help!

If you itemize (and if you run your own business you must), “the biggest challenge is capturing those receipts,” says Doland. She relies on high- and low-tech options.

High: Neatworks is a receipt scanner with a ledger function that’s a tad pricey—about $399—but pays for itself in sheer convenience, Doland says. Once receipts are scanned you can sort them into expense categories right in your computer. It makes itemizing a snap.

Low: Corral receipts in two Ziploc baggies in your purse: mark one for personal, one for business. Every month, put the Ziplocs into a manila envelope.

Spend 20 minutes each month reconciling receipts with bank and credit card statements to catch any missing expenses.

Organizing All Those Papers—Ugh

Doland’s Swear-By Secret: If you’re facing an unruly mess right now, ditch the “I don’t have time to do it” excuse. It’s true, you won’t have 36 hours to spare on April 14th. You do have two and a half months now. “The best way to sort through papers and piles is to do an inch at a time, every day,” says Doland.

It’s not sexy, but there’s a hidden benefit to the baby-step method: Studies show that “workers who are most creative alternate between mindful work and mindless work, like filing,” Doland says. “It gives your brain a chance to focus on the mundane and recharge a bit.”