Monday, April 10, 2006

There really are monsters

There's a monster that lives in my house that I truly fear, and it grows daily. It's all the freaking paperwork. I know how to budget my time. I know how to break down large projects into smaller, manageable tasks. I can whip a closet or a drawer into submission. Put a stack of paper in front of me though, and I tremble.

What's really scary is I know the real life impact of what's in all those nasty envelopes. This is about more than paying bills. Nobody likes paying bills. I know that. This is about keeping track of everything and planning for the future. I have no clue what to save and what to let go. What's the best way to keep things filed? Should I put everything for a month in one folder or should I have a folder for each type of statement. Should I get a ledger? Should I put Quicken back on the computer and try to keep up with the money stuff that way? What about those school records, the accumulated pieces of research for the non-fiction piece that's been building over the last couple of years, the magazine clippings of decorating ideas because I'm sick of a plain house? I want a paper mentor!

Every few months the monster grows until I'm completely intimidated by its size, and I feel like I have to find a better way to get it organized and keep it under control. I fought my monster today and threw out everything that I thought could go. Multiple garbage bags have been filled, and I honestly think the shredder growled at me the last time I put something through it. The monster is now just a large, scary dog. Instead of a Kraken, it's a Rottweiler.

I do feel like I've accomplished something, but I know the biggest part of the challenge is ahead. Now, I have to deal with what's on that paper. I'm thankful the value of my life is more than a bottom line, but looking at those numbers is just never pleasant. I've come a long way in the last few years. I truly respect myself. I've grown in confidence. I think I've honed my writing skills, and I'm beginning to get a real idea about the direction I want to take them. I've faced and survived some real difficulties and challenges. I've worried about paperwork and money for years now, and I think that it's time I seriously worked on controlling both. I simply don't need the anxiety of having that aspect of my life out of control, lurking and ready to leap on me when I need an extra responsibility the least.

That's the main reason I want to master this challenge. I don't want the stress. My peace of mind is simply too important not to develop better paperwork management skills.


Blogger Theresa Williams said...

Good luck with that one, Cynthia. My method is simple, if often ineffective. Put bills in one cubby. Tax materials in another. Everything else gets filed haphazardly into a filing drawer or languishes in one of many "piles" on my desk or floor.

April 10, 2006 10:15 PM  
Blogger Wil said...

I really shouldn't talk. But one hard and fast rule that worked for me in my job as a "guvmint regulator" was, "handle every piece of paper only once."

That means deal with the bills all at once. Read, act on and file mail when you are done. Record data on the computer just once. No intermediary steps for research... no 3x5's, napkins, toilet paper -- everything straight to the computer or file drawer.

I wish you greater success than I have had taming the paper monster.

April 11, 2006 1:52 AM  
Blogger Jod{i} said...

Ugh, I feel this, I used to just toss it in a drawer, then another and then, sigh...It devored the kitchen.
I bought a shredder, and created a simple spreadsheet in excel, bill paid, input data, shred paper. Many of the utilities now (here in CT anyways)have paperless bills and can pay right online or through my bank without checks. And I store the confirmation number right on the puter with the payment data.
Do I still have piles? Only one. I bought a pretty basket and it sits next to the computer. Not too big and I go through it every week.
Helps keep down the paper.
Anything that is junk...the kids use to create stuff.
Now if I could just get through that pile of scripts...

April 11, 2006 8:31 AM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

Seems like a veteran list maker would run the risk of being overrun with paper...

My paper monster travels from room to room as the mood strikes me. I have an office, but I didn't like closing myself in with the monster. So it moved to my bedroom. Not enough room there, so it travelled down to the dining room. I have a secretary desk that I close it into from time to time. And I deal with shredding about once a year. I pay all my bills online, so that does cut down on the paper a bit...

April 11, 2006 1:11 PM  
Blogger Gannet Girl said...

So, ya think we're identical twins?

April 11, 2006 3:48 PM  

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