In our house paperwork is one of the biggest chores. I find paperwork boring and it is a job I would rather not have to deal with. Unfortunately in life there are something’s that you cannot hide from. Since changing my kitchen into a simple living space all our paperwork is now dumped on my desk, so much so I can’t do any work and I have to move myself to the kitchen table so I have room to work. This week I have had enough! Although I had planned on looking at other rooms in the house this week, paper work has to come first.
After making a very strong cup of tea and telling myself off for procrastinating by drifting around on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other social networking site I could drift onto. I collected all our paperwork together from around our house and piled it all over the living room floor, pulled up my sleeves and took a big sigh.
Next I took 3 pieces of scrap paper and wrote on these
And then laid them out on the floor with a reasonable gap between them with headers above the piles to remember which pile was which without looking at the pile. This was the easy part and it was time for another cup of tea.
I then sat and went through each piece of paper work placing them in the right piles. Once I got into the swing of it, it felt like it had not taken me very long but in fact I had been sat on our living room floor for nearly 4 hours. But at least the hardest part was done.
File – These are papers that I need to refer back to for example; Bank Statements, Household Bills, Insurance documents, Car paperwork, ( mot, insurance tax etc..) Taxman paperwork, (receipts, invoices etc..) anything that is really important like this.
Action – These are papers that needed my attention which were anything from Bills that need paying, Letters that need replying too, dates that need putting in the diary etc…
Recycling – Anything that did not fit into the other two categories went into the recycling pile.
I did seem chuffed with myself that I had sorted out our paperwork and now I had three very neat piles on our living room floor. These piles could not live here forever. This is when I realised that the hard work started now. Another cuppa I think!
So I kind of started backwards because I thought this would keep my mind on track. I took the recycling pile and placed it on the kitchen table. Each piece of waste paper that did have at least one plain side I placed in my children’s colouring draw (that lives in our kitchen) then I went and found a shoebox and placed any paperwork in there which had sensitive information on like out bank account number etc.. Popped the lid back on and wrote in big black letters paper machine. I then carried the shoe box and the remaining paper from the recycling pile out to the shed, placed the shoe box on the shelf next to the kids craft box and the rest of the paper into the paper recycling bin.
The Action Pile was the next pile to look at. Off this pile went to my kitchen table. Three things happened to this pile.
- I took a plane piece of paper and I wrote down all the bills that needed to be paid in the next month.
- I opened up my online diary. I use google calendar to keep our diaries up to date because I can access our diary anywhere we happen to be without carrying around a heavy diary in my handbag. I have our calendar linked to both mine and my husband’s phone, my ipad and of course I have access to it on my laptop. I added all the dates of important things that were coming up and I added all the bill dates and how much.
- I sat and replied to any letters that needed replying too. Once I had replied to them decided whether they needed to be filed or recycled. Nearly 30% of what I replied to then ended up in the bin.
Once I completed these three things I took an old pink box file, that I had kept thinking I might need it at some point and placed all the action paperwork inside. Stuck a sticker on the top saying ACTION and placed it on my desk next to my other files. Because I like to cross things off I then blue tacked the written list of bills that needed paying this month to the inside of one of my kitchen cupboards. That way as I pay one of these bills I can cross it off.
Did someone say time for a cuppa? Oh good yes please.
Last but not least the File pile was next on the hit list. We don’t have space in our house for a filing cabinet or anything big like that so we use a draw that is under our bed. A couple of years ago when I was in a mood to sort out our filing system I bought lots of plastic files and named them all. For Example mobile phone, landline, Bank, Insurance, Taxman etc.. So this part was easy in one way but it also took a long time to file everything away. Before I knew it, it was time to cook tea and my husband was heading home with the children.
When I sat back and looked at everything I had done I felt a sense of achievement. Yet the biggest challenge was still ahead, keep the paperwork that enters our house in this simple but effective order.
In order to do this I have changed my daily routine. For every piece of paperwork that comes in to our house must get sorted. Either filed away in the right file, added to the action file or dealt with straight way and then off to recycling.
How do you keep your paperwork in order?