We have been married for seventeen and a half years. Neither of us has ever, EVER gotten a handle on the paperwork. We literally have seventeen and a half years worth of paperwork in boxes, bags, drawers and stacks.
I tackled it! I'm sorting, filing, recycling and shredding. I'm actually doing it!
In January I got a Freedom Filer: http://www.freedomfiler.com/Home.cfm Saturday I got a shredder. I spread out across the dining room table and away I went.
OK obviously I'm at the computer at this very moment. I just go so excited filing and thinking, I had to share with people that I know 'get it'.
Thank you, Woodchick!!
I worked on the project all day today. I'm only stopping now because it's time to start dinner. Well, and my brain is fried.
I got smart and left the ancient history behind and tackled the newest piles that were stacked on the kitchen desk. Whew! I seriously have the whole thing sorted. As a result I have a much better idea about how much we owe, and to whom. And if I'm reading the pile of statements right, we're finally caught up with the mortgage. We got behind when dh lost his job. Coming across the 'YOU HAVE TWO MONTHS UNTIL FORECLOSURE' notice from November was depressing.
I'm pretty proud of myself for not getting bogged down in decision-making molasses. I bought the already set up file system from Freedom Filer and I'm really glad I did, but I don't agree the way they file certain things. Example, I would prefer to have all of the monthly statements and occasional policy notices from any particular credit card or bank in its own file. But they direct you to file ALL monthly statements from all institutions in a monthly folder, one for each month, January through December. Then all policy documents from all different institutions go in one 'policies' folder.
In any case I didn't argue with them or freeze up with indecision, I just went with it. If I'm inspired to change things around later I might. But this is huge for me. This is exactly the kind of thing that usually stops me cold in my tracks, trying to decide where to put a freaking piece of paper.
Way to go!!
Oh, I hate, hate, hate papers!
"All you fascists are bound to lose" — Woody Guthrie
Doesn't it feel great!?
This reminds me I need to go purge our large filing cabinet upstairs. I think I keep WAY too many papers. But David Allen's book Getting Things Done really helped me get a handle on my papers and helped me set up a good filing system.
Off to google the freedom filer...haven't heard of that one. :)
Laura, I've been reading as much of Getting Things Done as possible without actually getting the book. That Amazon 'read the table of contents and the first few pages' thing has been useful. And I found an archived article about David Allen in Wired magazine online. He sounds like a totally interesting guy.
Two things I took away from it, don't spend more than two minutes figuring out what to do with an issue -I don't time myself, but I get the principle, and I'm banging through stuff as fast as possible- and actions on your to-do list need to be described as explicitly as possible. For example, don't write "set up a meeting", instead say "call to set up a meeting".
People slam him for getting paid for having developed a very simple organizational plan, saying his very successful career boils down to a painfully obvious flow chart. The thing is, it's not at all obvious to me. Sure, it's forehead-slappingly simple now that I've read his flow chart, but that kind of organized thinking doesn't come naturally to me. So it's helpful to me.
Edited to add, I got that first rule up there slightly wrong. He says if something will take less than two minutes to finish, then do it, right now.
Ridiculously simple, right? Well, that kind of thing doesn't occur to me, so someone else putting it in writing actually helps me.
About the Freedom Filer, I discovered it in an article aimed at adults with ADHD.
I've seen a bunch of shredding trucks around here, I guess you can either go to an event or hire them and they will shred everything right there for you while you watch. I'm going to try to get everything that needs to be shredded in one place and then see what it would cost to have them come out. My DH is the paper problem, he keeps all of the old bills, EVERYTHING. Then it is hard to deal with the sheer amount and the fact that it all has account #s on it (if that even matters).
Dh started to do taxes on Sunday. He was able to pull all the relevant papers because I'd already found them and put them in the right files! =D
I think it matters. I like to toss absolutely as much of the day's mail in the recycle bin as possible. So a credit card application, for example, I take apart. The envelopes (outside and return envelope), and the slick little advertisment paper, and the portion of the application without our account number and name on it, all get recycled. The portion with the account number gets torn off and shredded.
I urge you to get your own shredder, if only because you'll be more likely to use it and not be tempted to toss something that ID thieves could use. Just be sure to get the gear oil or the lubricant sheets to keep the shredder in good working order. I had no idea you're supposed to oil the teeth regularly. That's why we have two broken shredders in the garage.
Sheer amount: ugh. I discovered a couple more long forgotten boxes of paper in the garage.