I confess. I like setting up Home Command Centers in other people’s homes. It’s relatively easy to go through someone else’s tedious papers and memorabilia - I have no attachment to it. But then when it’s my turn to deal….that gets harder.
I recently sat down to deal with the growing-to-become-insurmountable paper pile. Thanks to the #GO31Day Challenge - I’m getting a taste of my own medicine.
So, I thought...let’s see if my own advice really works?
I pulled out my PILES of paperwork. Then, I pulled out my "Action” basket, which is a single place where I drop items to deal with “someday soon." Though I've been using the same one for years, it still works!
I do have a place for just about every piece of paper. Or, I’ll make a place - even if it is the recycling bin. As many of you have heard me say, there are really only 3 types of paperwork coming our way.
ACTION papers or digital info like an email or text that we need to respond to;
REFERENCE items, or things we need to look at or access every so often; and
ARCHIVE information like taxes, memorabilia, warranties and manuals…items we don’t need except a few times a year.
So, even though my desktop might look like a slop sometimes, clean up doesn’t take long. And the bulletin board that has filled up with permission slips, practice schedules, coupons, and papers to sign and return can be dealt with in a short period of time. Let’s see some examples:
First, I did a few easy things that I've been putting of, like changing the addresses of friends. I try and do things that take 5 minutes or less right away.
Then I started making piles. First, the true action items, like school medical forms, school portraits to order, and dealing with my car insurance claim. And I actually took the time to fill out forms, write the claim paperwork, complete my new patient forms for an upcoming doctor visit.
I know what to do with all THAT paperwork...send to school, bring to doctor, mail to insurance. That's easy.
But what about all of the rest? Do I have a place to put this stuff? Let's put my systems to the test.
Membership Card for the Exploratorium? Reference Item - Not needed all the time. Check. In a little card holder where I keep other membership and discount cards. Lives in my purse.
School material? Reference Item - Not needed all the time. Check. In a file by kid.
A list of suggested book titles by Lexile? Sure, I have a file for that, too in my reference files. But will I really remember that next trip to the library? No. So, I snap a photo and put it in Evernote.
Then, I did actually file it though I could have recycled it. My reasoning is this: I want to pull a real piece of paper (i.e. like a book) out instead of my iPad (i.e. like the screen she wants to play with instead of reading book) should my daughter ask me why her books are so boring and she needs something else to do.
Speaking of Evernote, I also took a photo of my recent car registration and filed in in my “Vital Documents” notebook in Evernote. Just so I will always have it at hand if I need it. Fingers crossed I don't get pulled over this weekend on my way to a gymnastics meet.
At the end, I was left with a big pile of recycling next to my couch, a bed bath and beyond coupon to put in my car, and a small stack of client papers to out in my work at for the exit time I see them.
Painless? Pretty close. Time invested? An hour. Value to my sanity? Priceless!
So yes, life is chaotic, but when structure is set up, it’s easy(-ier) to pick up.