Organizing Month 4 – Zen and the Art of Sorting Paper.

paper

Organizing Month 4

This year one of my goals was to get my house in order. To do that I am working my way through the book “One Year to an Organized Life.” So far I have gotten though the kitchen, bedroom, and garage. This month is tackling paper. Ok, I know it doesn’t seem like a lot compared to the mammoth garage clean out, but anyone who just waded through a mountain of paper to file the taxes knows this can be a monstrous task. It was also an emotional clean-up of sorts and really made me think of the reasons why I do things and how to do them better.

This month’s organization started off easy enough. I pulled together all the leftover bills, pay stubs and miscellaneous paper that had been lying around and gathered them up into a pile. A big pile! How long had I been letting this go for? Week one was all about figuring out why we organize or don’t organize our paper, what it says about us and our history. It seems funny that so much can be determined by the way we file our bills. There is always emotion attached to money and this is no exception.

Growing up I remember my dad filing all his expenses and deductions in a black and white composition book. When I first lived on my own I followed his lead and created a ledger where I meticulously recorded money in and money out. That all changed when I became a mom who worked full-time time. I just never seemed to have the time to file and record things properly. This resulted in overdrafts and late payment. I have since found a way to automate most of our bills. Now I record our transaction easily in an online budgeting program. (The modern day version of the composition ledger book my dad had.) What I realized during this time was that I felt overloaded with responsibility after having children and just simply didn’t want to deal with the bills and paperwork. I felt overwhelmed and did not want to know where our money was going.pexels-photo-large

As my children got older and we still were running onto overdrafts and shortages I realize I had to get back to managing the finances but had difficulty being consistent. That was until I discovered the online budget. If you are having difficulty getting control of your paper bills and expenses, maybe remove the “paper” and start doing things online.

Week two the author moved into electronic accumulation, multi-tasking and delegating (outsourcing). This was a big deal for me. A working mom’s most prized resource is time. I know I don’t want to spend it sorting emails, and doing laundry. She makes the suggestion to outsource some tasks. This is starting to come into play in my house as I no longer want to be “house elf,” (yes a Harry Potter reference) to my family.

The author also addresses two big emotional hurdles that I struggle with almost daily, multi-tasking and saying “no.” She goes into detail about what overdoing multitasking really does to you.

She recommends keeping a journal to record how you feel after multitasking. I discovered that I feel well…fried. I feel like if I stop being in constant motion then the tiredness will overwhelm me and I will never get up off the couch and never get anything done. When I reviewed my multi-tasking ways, I realized that this is the reason I crash on the couch at 8:00 pm and pretty much can’t get up again. I need the downtime to recover from a day of ridiculous multi-tasking mania.

The chapter also addresses the art of saying “no.” Here we go with the guilt again! Yes, everytime I have to say no I am overcome with guilt. This is due to a codependent upbringing. For more on this check out my “It’s not a problem in you” post. I will not go into to much detail as I am trying to recognize and overcome this way of being. Only to say that I have said “no,” several times this month and have felt a bit less stress in my daily schedule.

The final week of the month we actually get down to sorting out paper and putting in place various systems to deal with paper clutter in the future. I set up hanging folders and sorted all my paper piles into the appropriate folder and discarded various envelopes, expired coupons and flyers that had been lying around.

I now check the mail daily and immediately trash anything that is junk mail. I also have stopped most magazine subscriptions that I never read and gotten rid of old manuals and warranties that were taking up space. I have also set up a system to wade through my emails. I unsubscribe, delete and sort at least 10 emails a day. (I get an average of 25 daily) It’s not perfect but it’s a start.

That’s the thing about paper (and electronic) clutter. If we deal with it from the start then it doesn’t get a change to accumulate. As for the emotions around being less of a  multi-taking and saying “no” more often, it is like a muscle and if we start using it a little everyday, it will get stronger. We just have to start.

 

 

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