Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall Cleaning Series: Day 2 - Taming the Paper Monster

Getting Household Papers Organized

Today, I shifted my attention from my kitchen to my living room. My living room is the space in which we spend most of our day . . . when we aren't cooking or eating. Our television, computer, desks, bookshelves, video games, and one wonderfully ancient denim sofa are in our living room. We also enter our home into our living room.

Before I could do anything with the room, I had to start with the papers.... I had papers collecting on top of my printer, papers on my desk, papers on my computer desk, papers on the coffee table . . . papers pretty much everywhere. They were about to form a paper monster and eat me alive. They had to be conquered.

The Paper Monster
I figured out that I was dealing with my own paper monster.
Neat Paper Monster
While I love checking out Neat's amazing paper scanners, I have a lot of papers that I want to keep on hand.  I have a set of working files, but not all of the working files were working.  Here is how you can separate your files into three groups.
Permanent Files
Working Files
Weekly Files
Permanent Files
The Permanent Files are in my filing cabinet upstairs.  Our finances are filed according to Ric Edelman's guide.  I have the rest according to what our papers can be grouped into easily.  Each person/couple will have a different set of file labels.  I have a home business, others will have files on their careers.  I have a file for homeschool records, many others will have a file for each year of school their child goes through.  Your permanent files are files that you need to have, but do not need to access frequently.  Perhaps once a year or less.
Working Files
Working Files are files that you need to access more frequently.  They may pertain to a project that you are working on.  Bills that need to be paid monthly.  You might keep your address book pages in this box/cabinet.  You want them nearby, but you don't need to get at them all the time.  These should be labeled clearly and have useable information inside.  If you have your bills inside, you need to include a printable tracker that helps you to know when your bills need to be paid and where you can record when you paid the bill.  If you have yearly goals, you may want to keep a file on your goals and review them monthly to stay on track.  Working files need to be workable.
Weekly Files
Weekly Files are those files that you will access every week and contain papers that you will use continually.  You need these papers filed and labeled so that you are able to wrap your mind around your tasks.  Without Weekly Files you accumulate papers and add more papers to the papers that are out . . . "because you are working on them."  Even papers that are a part of weekly planning need a job.
This is where my "Working Files" were failing.  I had my Permanent Files and Working Files, but I didn't have Weekly Files.  I just made a pile of all the papers that I was currently working on.  Then I added more papers to my pile that still needed to be worked on, then more papers on top of that, until I forgot what was underneath the pile.  I was overwhelmed by feelings of fear due to this paper monster.  Let me explain . . .

The Fear of 'Things Left Undone'
"The papers in my house began to scare me.  However, I have come to realize that it isn't the need to organize the papers that evokes my panic, but the fear that I might discover things left undone, items on my to do list that I never finished, or even worse, people that I've disappointed by not following through.

As I go through my papers and remember tasks that became forgotten, I have to give myself grace. I don't remember every task every time. I don't follow through with everything that I commit to with the best intentions. I will hope to do better next time, but today . . . I just really need these papers to get organized."
Have you discovered box file folders?  They hold more files helping you organize.



Taming the Paper Monster

I have all of my files separated out, filed, and for the most part put away.  I've made a huge step in taming my paper monster.  I still need to go through my labels, add a few more files (such as one for to do lists), but I have a great start.  Organization doesn't really have an end.  You keep organizing and reorganizing your life because life never stops changing and we never stop growing.  Take a look through your papers and see if you can't figure out a better system of paper control for your home.


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