Paperwork Problems

It is time to add all the paperwork problems to my master list.  Please, tell me I’m not the only one who has problems with paperwork.   I file it, I shred (sometimes), I trash it, I recycle it, I attempt the only touch it once rule (and then end up with a huge pile of I don’t know what to do with it papers that I can’t touch?), and it still grows and spreads throughout our home.

As I sit at my desk typing this post, I have paperwork to the left of me, paperwork to the right of me, and a file box on top of the computer, my kid’s school photo envelope and more paperwork the other kid brought home from church last night on top of the printer as is a pillow sham (blaming the husband for that one).   I can’t see beside the computer desk but I know it’s lurking over there as well.  A pile of papers on top of photo boxes that need to find a home (note: they are full of photos).   There are even papers behind me waiting for a proper sort when I return to working on my much neglected ancestry research.

Papers to the left of me along with my coffee

Papers to the left of me along with my coffee

Papers to the right of me and under guard by a Hero Factory person

Papers to the right of me and under guard by a Hero Factory person

Papers beside me.  The bag contains papers to shred.

Papers beside me. The bag contains papers to shred.

 Papers behind me.  I'm surrounded by papers!

Papers behind me. I’m surrounded by papers!

Sadly, I don’t know why most of these papers surrounding me are here.  I would call that a paperwork problem wouldn’t you?

I wish I could tell you the papers are confined to this one area in our home.  They are not.  The kitchen table is currently awash in papers that have collected there all week.  The calendar pocket is filling up fast with school forms and papers that I need to review and probably return (hopefully, they weren’t due last week!).  The fridge is covered in “important” papers like phone numbers and cleaning checklists (ha!) plus our bill paying caddy that is currently holding a small amount of  the “I don’t know what to do with it?” papers.  I did clear a decent amount of that out this summer.   The living room always collects a small amount of paper (as you saw in yesterday’s photo of the couch) but they are usually moved to the kitchen table or recycle bin soon enough.  The other places paper collects is in the boys’ rooms.  Most of that is school work related or something they are making.  I don’t worry too much about those papers unless they start to invade my space.

All that is just the papers you can see.  I also have hidden paperwork problems.  The filed and then, expired coupons.  I’ve pretty much quit cutting coupons but my husband has a tool store that constantly sends them and he insists we keep them.  We have food place coupons that we keep with good intentions until they expire.  There are school projects and grade cards for the boys.  Seriously, do I really need to keep their grade cards?  Why?  There are instruction books and warranty information, receipts, and cards that should have been sent long ago.  Can anyone else relate?

I realize some of it is my own fault.  I didn’t grow up in the digital age and so I still crave the security of paper proof at times.  I pay our bills online but I insist they send me my bills through they mail (hey, I’m doing my part to keep the post office in business).  I like my magazines in paper form.

I’m pretty sure I could spend the entire month on paperwork problems but I know I’d lose interest very soon and not follow through with it.  I’m going to focus on visible paperwork problems and trust myself not to let them turn into hidden paperwork problems.

My follow through task for today (really, I should have tackled it yesterday with the house cleaning but I was running low on energy) is to clear the kitchen table of its paper pile.  Hopefully, most of it can go straight to the recycle bin.  What one thing are you committing to crossing off your list today?  Also, am I the only one with a “I have no idea what to do with this paper” pile?  What do you do with those?

This post is part of the 31 Days of Follow Through Series.


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11 thoughts on “Paperwork Problems

  1. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

    Jean, I love your blog. Many days, I love it because it makes me feel normal as I have many of the same issues you write about here.
    Paperwork – my evil nemesis. I, too, have tried everything to keep it under control but it always manages to get away from me. Right now, my item for the day is to get the piles of paper off the dining room table because we have company coming for dinner. Know where it will end up? On my desk in the office to deal with later…my usual method.
    I am trying, though, to improve my paperwork issues. The touch it once doesn’t work for me because I often toss it in a file only to be forgotten (expired, whatever). So yes, the “I have no idea what to do with this” pile exists here. Big time. I think what I might need is a bin for those things – then at least they’ll be contained and I can pick my way through them. Maybe.
    Good luck!
    Lisa @ The Meaning of Me recently posted..The TToT of Being SickMy Profile

    1. Jean Post author

      Aw, thank you. I’m always glad to find out it is not just me. The bin is a good idea. I think maybe just having a set paperwork day would help as well. I may try that.

    1. Jean Post author

      The worst is when the paperwork winds up in the laundry 😉 Or is that just here? Thankfully, it doesn’t happen too often.

    1. Jean Post author

      Good luck with your new system. I hope it works for you because I’d love to hear about it.

  2. Deanna

    Nope, you’re NOT the only one with paper problems. I suspect that there are more of us that do than don’t, we just don’t ‘hide’ ours.

    I once heard a story, and I’m not sure where it was, about a bag of junk that was hoarding up an office, and the guy put the bag on the floor to take home, and forgot it at work, and when he came to work on Monday it was gone. I guess he only needed a couple of those items after all, and the rest was just ‘fluff’. I often wonder about that too, around here, how much do I really need to keep.

    I have been doing some research, planning, and thinking on this. I’m leaning toward a tickler file system for the day to day items, and some file boxes for the other stuff. The big file cabinet is not working out so much for me – it’s bulky, too full, and really ugly, in my opinion. It’s certainly not dumpy, just utilitarian and old.

    I also have multiple piles of paper I don’t know what to do with. I’ve been thinking – those are probably papers you just don’t need to keep. Try to see yourself a year from now, and will you be sad not having that piece of paper? Could you find that information elsewhere if you needed to? That’s what I’m trying to do, especially with things I KNOW I’m not going to use soon – like certain ‘green’ cleaning solution methods, workouts, makeup application, paint selection ideas, etc. It stings only a little ditching it, and then I’m on to something else.

    I swear we were separated at birth sometimes LOL

    1. Jean Post author

      I recently found a bag of papers and stuff that I had stashed back when G was 1 or 2 years old probably getting ready for a party or something. I took a few pictures out of the bag and threw the rest of it away without looking because you know if I hadn’t needed the items in 10-11 years, I didn’t need them now. If I did need the items, they’d probably been replaced. It was very freeing. The system you are describing sounds very much like the system David Allen describes in Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. I liked the idea of the system but thought it also seemed a bit overwhelming.

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