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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Invoice, invoice, where the heck is that invoice..... you sure you paid me?

Yes, I feel just like the woman in that commercial! Only I'm usually looking for legal documents such as my power of attorney original copy. Now where the heck is that darn thing anyway?

Ok, I've tried to keep my papers organized but somehow it never quite seemed to get done. I would be busy working when the mail came or I would be in a hurry to get onto the machine after an appointment. So I would just toss everything into a box or a pile. Rarely did I take the time to keep my papers organized. For the last two or three years my life has slowly been taken over by the chain that held me to the quilting machine. No time to sort and file papers. There were deadline quilts to be done first!

Everything paper would get tossed into a pile. It didn't matter if it was a sales ad or a legal document. I would not take the time to put it in its proper place because I'm constantly behind schedule. When the pile of papers got tall enough that it was ready to topple over; it would get shuffled out of my way to make room for another pile. Sometimes, on rare occasions, when I found time to file papers; I would not take the time to weed out old non-relevant papers. Which only compounded the problem.

A couple of days ago I was looking for a copy of my power of attorney for my mother. Couldn't find it anywhere among the stacks and stacks of invoices, magazines, sales ads, paid household bills, etc, etc. You know what I mean? It should have been filed but wasn't.

I was also watching the weather channel about the same time a few days ago. It was a show about natural disasters and how people only had a minute or two to evacuate. Their houses were destroyed in minutes by wildfires or floods or hurricanes. Then I got to thinking.... what if there was a disaster and I needed certain papers in only seconds? What if I had only five minutes to grab what I needed and get away from the house?

There's no way on earth I could quickly grab what I might need in only 5 minutes considering the way my papers are right now. How would I prove what I owned if I should have to file an insurance claim? Or show I have power of attorney for my mother if my copy is destroyed? What if I were somehow injured and my daughter had to take over for me? How would she find everything? Would she know what's important and what's not?

Well, I'm determined that this year is the year to finally get my papers in some sort of order.... but it must be easy to maintain. Not just another file cabinet with file after file. But something that I can just go through now and then to polish it up. I also need to make myself a disaster package of necessary items.... just in case. Something I could grab at a moments notice and get out of the house.

I know I can't make several years of papers get organized over night especially with the quilting schedule I have.... but this is a start! One small step in the right direction can get me motivated.

Here is where the "center" of my paperwork organizing is going to be. The second shelf of this bookshelf in my studio. This is only the starting place for my papers. Some things will find new homes along the way.

Here is some of the ways I kept papers in the past. A box that I could toss receipts, invoices, and intake papers into until I got around to it later. I have a bunch of files in a cabinet way back in another room. I have a bunch of books that I use for keeping track of different things. One is for household bills. I use it like a checkbook register. Another book for keeping track of my mother's medical bills and nursing home bills. I need to know what is covered by medicare and what isn't. It also has contact names and numbers concerning her. I have three more of these little books I use to track different things.

Then I have this file of all my appliance warranties and instruction booklets. It's quite overflowing! It needs to be weeded out too.

I took a couple of hours today to sort through some of the paper stacks. A bunch of magazines got sorted out and are ready to be donated to the clinic waiting room. Old sale ads and fabric catalogs were tossed. 5 year old bill statements got shredded. I found the power of attorney that I really needed.

I also got these handy gadgets ready to use this year. Instead of just tossing business related papers into the box. Each month has an envelope for me to put the papers into. At the end of the month I can record everything. Or wait until I have the time because everything will be contained in the right envelope. I've used the envelope file system for many years.... but I wouldn't create the envelopes until the end of the year. Whats new is using them through the year.

Next I went and dusted these trays off. I've had them for a long time but only used them for holding printer paper at the computer. These are going to serve a different purpose from now on. The top "do" tray is for any bill that must be paid or any forms that must be signed. Actually its for any paper that requires me to do something. Make a phone call, write a check, or any action. I will know exactly where the papers are.

Second is the "file" tray which is for any papers that don't require me to do anything. It's either been done already or I simply need to keep the paper. This I can do when the tray gets kind of full or when I take a few minutes each week to do the filing.

Third is the "shred" tray and I'm guessing you know what that means. For me this is a good idea! In the past the shredding stuff was just another pile waiting on a shelf or a counter... in the way. With this tray I'm limited on how much can sit and wait before shredding must happen.

Fourth is the "track" tray which holds all my tracking books. When I come up with a better idea and feel confident enough to switch then I can get rid of the tracking books too.

So here is the shelf with the "center" of my paper organizing. The purple case holds information about quilt shows and contests just in case I want to go. There is my personal phone book, my custom quilt catalog, my customer phone numbers file box, the monthly business envelopes, and my trays.

It felt really, really good to get this much cleaned up. There were 4 garbage bags of shredded papers put out in the trash. Also, I have two stacks of magazines gone. A neighbor took them because she's going to the clinic on Tuesday.

I have a bunch of papers that still need weeding and sorting. For example my appliance file. I need to find a better way of keeping these. I've been thinking about how I would prove ownership if I should need to file an insurance claim? Could I prove the value and age? Is the warranty still good? When was the furnace was last cleaned or repaired? Were the parts guaranteed? For how long?
Hmmm..... this could also apply to things like your car or your snow blower or even the quilting machine. Now when did that guy from Accomplish Quilting come do the maintenance? Was it last year or the year before? Is it due for maintenance again?
Yup, I gotta find a better way to keep track of papers! Hopefully this year it will happen. I must keep reminding myself.... no organizing system will work if I don't take the time to use it.
Now where did I put the bolt cutters? I need to cut the chain that holds me to that quilting machine......

1 comment:

kathi said...

Oh Anita!!
what great ideas. We have a "to be filed" box on top of the filing cabinet. for bills paid, receipts. etc. HOWEVER what tends to happen is i just toss it all in the "to be filed" box, and it NEVER gets inside the filing cabinet. I LIKE your plan of "limited space" then when it is full, it HAS to be taken care of.
thanks.. now to DO it. hmm?