Work-Life Discord

I don’t talk about my old job very much on here, mostly because I quit almost two years ago (holy crap!), but it’s been on my mind lately as I have been thinking hard about how I can organize and streamline my life, which is my ultimate goal for trying to knock out 12 things every month. It’s a recurring theme on the blog because just about once ever quarter, I think that I can’t go on this way and I post about cleaning, or organizing* how I am really changing this time. And then… I never do.

In my former worker-bee life, I held a position that required organization and focused on improvement and I was good at it. So, my utter failure of this at home is sort of hilariously ironic. Last night I was working on gathering our documents for taxes and I swear I went through the mail stack on our counter for the fourth time in a month to find some of the 1099s. I pulled out at least a shoe box full of recyclable junk mail. I couldn’t help but think that I never would have let this happen at my old job. I had a touch it once, then act or file when ever possibly and I kept as little paper around as possible. It helped that I had a shred box a few steps from my doorway and I didn’t have to do the actual shredding myself, but that excuse only covers the confidential/financial papers.

I need a plan and maybe need to start with some baby steps. I need to be realistic, we have a toddler who can reach most of our counters: piles are out of the question. My gut instinct is to run to target and buy some delightfully cute organizing bins and maybe I will but I am writing this post as a way of hitting the pause button first. I need to think about what I need, what I would like to accomplish and what I would like to prevent.

I need to organize my life. Apps are a start, but that is only my digital life. Unless an app is going to magically sort my paperwork, I need to get on the ball at home too and start keeping my household paperwork in order like it is my job, because essentially, it is.

Look! I drafted this post Wednesday morning and by Wednesday evening, I had done all this planning:

You know it is fancy because it is written in crayon on old paper from a work conference to make it all official. So, basically I don’t know what I want to do, but I know I want to organize all the things. It’s like a sickness, happens every year when tax gathering take forever and I think I should never let this happen again.

Edited to add: I should clarify: we have a system for bills: they are immediately pulled from the mail, we open and write the due date on the envelope and they are tucked (date sticking out) into a paper monthly calendar we keep in the kitchen. My issue is with all the other mail – bank statements that need to be filed, miscellaneous offers and business-type mail, magazines, catalogs, that sort of things. 

How do you organize mail and papers? If your answer is I process everything into color coordinated bins the second I bring it in the house, don’t tell me. Well, you can tell me, but now how sad it is making me – clubbing baby seals sad, thinking there was one more cookie when there isn’t sad.

*this room is finally clean. After photos to come – a year later…

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11 Responses to “Work-Life Discord”

  1. Jen says:

    I have the same problem! There are piles and piles of mail (mostly junk) on every flat surface in my house. So far, my best (and only) strategy has been to ignore it for months until I can’t stand it anymore, then sweep it all into the trash. I think I need a new system…

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  2. Audrey says:

    As soon as the mail comes into the house I generally look through it to separate actual mail from junk. Junk gets tossed/recycled. Then I put Christopher’s magazines/mail some place he’ll see it and open my mail…which is the bills. I have an accordion file I got from target a few years ago, it has spots. It for tax documents, charity receipts, gardening stuff (seed packets mostly), bills, financial stuff like the statements from the kds’ stock, a slot of the previous year’s tax paperwork and some extra slots for things Chris deems important not to lose and I deem important not to lose. Otherwise things end up in jumbled piles of paperwork on the desk mixed with Everett’s school artwork he brings home. :)

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  3. Brigid Keely says:

    Several years ago I had a calendar that had a pocket for each month. Bills came in and I stuck them in the pocket and at the end of the month I filed them. It worked GREAT. I’ve never seen that calendar for sale ever again. :C

    What worked briefly, when I had the desk space for it, was a file folder holder that sat on the desk top and you slid file folders into it and they stood up so you could see them and easily slip thing into them. I had a folder for pregnancy stuff (mostly medical info), bills to pay, bills paid, etc and I’d file them… whenever. But they were contained and sorted and junk mail didn’t get mixed in!

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  4. First, let me say that typically papers end up in a pile on our kitchen counter for weeks at a time. Sometimes they get moved during cleaning, which means they end up in one of our two “junk drawers.”

    BUT when I do actually get around to filing, I have a pretty easy system. I have a (cute, small) cardboard filing box I got at Target a few years ago. I have it loosely organized by category (utilities, phone bills, medical-related, tax-related, house-related). Every once in a while I will sit down and file all our loose papers into the right slot and get rid of stuff that’s super old.

    Also, having a shredder (that works — ours has died, and we seriously need a new one) is a big help.

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  5. Rebecca says:

    I receive almost all my bills electronically – that has cut out A LOT of the paper. But not the credit car/car loan statements. No matter how much I beg, they won’t stop sending me a forest worth of paper every month. The junk mail goes directly to the recycle bin, I don’t even look at it most times.

    The rest goes into a small desk organizer type deal until it is to be dealt with. Or until it starts overflowing out of the cupboard.

    It’s not the best system but it’s better than our old one – Keep every single piece of paper every delivered to our house in a jam-packed filing cabinet.

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    Amy Reply:

    I jam our filing cabinet full until nothing more fits and then do a giant purge every other year. And then worry about breaking the shredder because of all the shredding at once.

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    Rebecca Reply:

    Yup. That is EXACTLY what I used to do. Ha!

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  6. Suzanne says:

    90% of our bill paying and paperwork is electronic, so most of the paperwork that comes in gets thrown away immediately. But until recently my system for “filing” was a pile on the dining room table I would hide in a drawer every couple of months. I finally went through ALL THE PAPERS and put them into regular old file folders in a file box – one for each family member, one for vehicles, one for the house, etc – and I’m being good about keeping it up. My biggest problem was LETTING GO of my need to keep EVERY piece of paper. At my old worker-bee job we had to keep hard copies for seven years, so the ability to throw out a credit card statement after I’ve paid it is kind of foreign.

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    Amy Reply:

    That is one of the biggest things I realized as I was sifting through piles of bank statements (we get them from 3 places) and such for easily the forth time that first step is clearly to go electronic. I worry about paying credit card bills electronically because if they don’t send reminders, I am worried that I’ll forget.

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  7. Heather says:

    I’m right there with you. I do have files for things but those files get full and then I often wonder what do I need to keep and what can I purge? I have been searching hi and low for an answer to this question and have yet to find it.

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  8. Marci says:

    What we have been doing is putting all the bills/important papers in a behind door shoe hanging thing. What are those things called? Each pocket is designated for a different bill/company and you can see the bill through the pocket to see due date written in the envelope. At the end of the year we have a nice orderly pile of bills that can be put away or shredded. The important papers are filed in manilla folders wither year they pertain to in the filing cabinet

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