If you have yet to organize receipts from 2012, the time to get started is now. It’s a brand new year and time for a fresh start, and there’s no better way to begin pursuing your 2013 goals than to put 2012’s finances to rest.

If you’ve kept diligent records throughout the year, and have utilized your Shoeboxed Magic Envelope regularly, organizing your receipts will be a walk in the park. If, however, you’re like most people, you may have collected a stack or two (or a small mountain) of paper receipts that need to be dealt with.

Organizing your receipts can be one of the most time-consuming parts of doing your taxes, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little preparation and a dash of motivation, prepping your receipts for tax season can even be – get this – fun!

  • Organize receipts within your Shoeboxed account by tackling one category at a time. Logging into your account for 10 or 15 minutes a day is a great way to prevent your receipt load from becoming overwhelming. Labeling one category at a time keeps your time spent organizing short and sweet, and will increase your productivity without feeling like “work.”
  • The sooner you organize your receipts, the sooner you can calculate yearly totals, send everything to your accountant, and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s difficult to start a new year with a fresh outlook when you have a stack of last year’s receipts looming over you.
  • Finishing your taxes as soon as possible is also a great way to get a little more TLC from your accountant, who will certainly have more time for you in January than she will come April. Submitting everything early also allows plenty of time for revisions and mistake-correcting if needed.
  • If 10-minutes-per-day-until-you’re-done isn’t your style, you can organize receipts marathon style. Set aside a 24 (or 48 or 72)-hour period without distractions, obligations or anything else to do. Create a schedule for yourself that includes 15 minute breaks at least every two hours (this gives your brain essential recuperating time, and will actually hasten the entire process).
  • Make sure you’re as comfortable as possible, and use your breaks to engage in some stretching, a brisk walk, or some energizing yoga.
  • In addition to copious amounts of coffee, reward yourself for finishing your tax marathon with a big, fat treat. Schedule a massage, book a weekend getaway, or promise yourself the most tantalizing gift you can think of – but only if and when you finish your taxes.
  • Have a receipt-organizing party with a few of your nearest and dearest. While ingesting traditional party libations may result in skewed numbers, there’s no rule against homemade guacamole and exorbitant amounts of Ben ‘n Jerry’s.
  • Notice how long it takes you to organize receipts from start to finish. Set a timer and take some notes, and place your results somewhere visible, like on the fridge or your desk. If you found yourself leaving piles of receipts (and work) until the last minute, a friendly reminder of the cost of procrastination may encourage you to explore the “do a little every day” technique.

With a few minutes of preparation each day, some internal and external motivation, and heck, a good old fashioned bribe, you’ll be free and clear of last year’s receipts in no time flat.

photo credit: thinklikereceipts.com