Paperwork strategies & Getting back on the horse

If you’re a client or have heard me speak you that I’ve never paid a bill and filed it right away in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever used a recipe and then put it back in the appropriate recipe folder right away. I don’t put packing slips, my kids cards, medical paperwork, or take out menus away in the folders where they belong. But that doesn’t mean my office/desk is a mess. On the contrary. It is always clean. How? 

I have what I call “transitional areas.” I have an “in box” that is my “to be filed” place. I usually go through it every month or two, or when it threatens to fall over. So, I eliminate the tedious, every day, grind of following through with the boring task of filing stuff away “in the moment.” Instead it is a 20 minutes project that seems more efficient and can be undertaken at the time of my choosing when I feel like handling it. 

I guess I should have done a post just on that strategy. But, I’m posting today to both extoll the virtues of this strategy and talk about how it can be a trap is not followed up on. The attached picture is what my “in box” looked like until last Thursday. Turns out it had been about 5 months since I went through it. Yikes!

It has been a brutal winter with all the snow, my wife working a lot, all of us getting sick multiple times, a now six-year-old, a just-turned-one-year-old, and major renovation project where the contractor really let me down. In other words… LIFE happened. The best thing I can say about this transitional space system is that we want all of our systems to continue to work even when the worst case scenario happens. Otherwise what good are they. Well, this system worked because it kept my desk and my office clean and organized for the five months. And, I got to that pile when I could.

The one negative I will say is that I let it go so long that it was not longer a quick and easy 20 minutes. It was more like a detailed hour plus of filing, making new folders, and making decisions about what to keep. I guess the point is that it served its purpose, but I then had to engage some other strategies to get it done. I definitely realized that I got to a place where I was avoiding it because it had gotten bigger than I would have like. But, once I had that realization that I was sort of passively avoiding it, I took a more active approach and schedule specific time to take care of it. Two days later it was done. Now it’s back to being filled back up. A good reminder that I need to address it more often if at all possible.

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