Plan #1 – Deal with paperwork

November is in full swing and the aforementioned plans have kicked into gear! The first plan will simultaneously reduce stress and tidy things up. Yes, I shall be taming the paper monster.

I have a love/hate relationship with paperwork. Basically, I love virtually everything made of paper and hate the work of dealing with it. Obviously, this creates some problems, which manifest in the form of piles and piles and piles of papers that need my attention.

It’s not as bad as it used to be, though! Over the years, I have implemented some strategies that have helped me deal with paper. I have a decent filing system, thanks to Freedom Filer. (Prior to using it, I kept everything; it really did give me the freedom to know when and how throw stuff away.) Flylady taught me about using an Office in a Bag to corral bills and important things so I can grab the bag and deal with stuff on the go. (Somehow it’s easier to pay bills when I’m at the office, since that’s where I pay bills for a living!) I’ve adapted that concept to having separate bags for specific contexts: a church bag, a Girl Scouts bag, etc. The papers are often still “piled” into the bags, but at least it helps clear off flat surfaces. The killer, though, is actually making sure that all papers go to their final destinations instead of just being piled until such time as I feel like dealing with them.

Well, look out, papers! The time is NOW. Since November is the beginning of the rest of my life, I have decided that my new life will not involve being taunted by unprocessed paperwork. The plan for today went something like this:

  • Step one: Collect all the loose papers in the house.
  • Step two: Be very glad that David made the bed this morning. (Wonder about the three white pillows. Why three? Decide to deal with those later.)
  • Step three: Let the sorting begin!

paperwork

No, this is not all of it… not by a long shot! But it was a good start. I didn’t finish sorting, but in order to make the bed a proper sleeping surface, I managed to clear everything into a temporary file box with the following categories: To Pay, To Do ASAP, Calendar, Projects, My Interests (I read a book that suggested a file called this, and I loved it because it is so vague and all-encompassing), and To File. As a bonus for my hard work, I rediscovered six small checks that need to be deposited and discovered that my car registration expired at the end of September. (Oops!)

Still, I’m feeling proud. The paper monster is on its way out. Hasta la vista, paper!

ready for action!

David's desk in all its pristine gloryAs my official Project of the Month, I’m getting my side of the office spruced up and decked out.

You may recall that David is pretty compulsive about keeping his desk clear…

 

… while my desk has historically looked like this:

Lori's desk is in there somewhere...

I sold that big desk on Craigslist a few weeks back and have a more reasonable-sized desk-and-hutch combo now, but the look was basically the same: a landing strip for piles with no open space to get anything accomplished.

I started by clearing every last little thing out of there and piling it neatly in the hallway upstairs. I was shocked – shocked! – by how many little things had wandered in and taken up residence on the flat surfaces of that very small room. Boxes and tubs of electrical cords and accessories. More boxes and tubs of office supplies. Even MORE boxes and tubs of random small things that had no homes. A quill and an ink bottle. An ocarina. Bookmarks from several foreign countries. A stockpile of Hudson Taylor CDs. Every Girl Scout badge and pin and doodad I have.

The hallway and upstairs landing are currently a disaster (and I thank David for his endless patience with my methods). But the office is looking amazing, and – even better – things are not coming in unless they have a place to go. No room? No home? No entry.

The goal is to make the office bright and attractive so that I actually want to work there. Having a computer on my desk (and space to use it) and my files all around me, I should be able to increase my productivity 1000%. That won’t be hard; I haven’t been very productive in the paperwork realm since we came back from Europe. I got out of my lifelong OCD habits while we were gone and truly could not seem to get back in the groove.

Until now. (Dum dum duuuuuummmm…) I’m hoping that by this time next week, I’ll be off and running. Organized papers, organized office, organized life – here I come.

Exhaustication nation

View of the Tejo from our apartment window

It’s a conundrum. Having stayed up all night the last night at home, I thought I’d sleep like a baby on the plane. No such luck! I really had a hard time sleeping.

I did write a blog post on the plane, though! You can read that; I am going to bed. Good night, y’all.  Here you go:

I didn’t sleep at all last night! (Why is every thought that goes through my head music-related?) I finished the laundry (every item of clothing we own is clean); sorted books and papers for the trip (and culled them to a reasonable amount); and packed ALL the bags! (Pack ALL the bags?)

When I finished packing, I started in on the paperwork: I paid the last bills that had come in, and then decided I would file an extension for our taxes.

Ha! An extension? Surprise! (Not.) Taxes have always been the bane of my existence. Unlike the organized people I know who e-file as soon as their W-2 comes in, I almost always file an extension. It’s absurd, since we always get money back.

So I sat down at about 3:30 AM to file an extension. Little did I know that Turbo Tax was going to make me give so much information in order to estimate whether I owed or not (which you have to state when you file an extension)… I ended up just going for it and doing the entire thing. I know I missed some deductions (I had four Goodwill receipts and no documentation of what the heck I had donated) that could have gotten me a bigger refund, but you know what? This year, done is better than perfect. Actually, that is true every year, in everything, but I don’t usually practice it.

I am sure I was the least efficient tax preparer in the world. I kept dozing off, then waking up suddenly to realize I hadn’t typed a darn thing. At 5:45 or so, the yard debris truck came, reminding me that we hadn’t taken the trash out. This is a bg deal in Portland these days, since we only get our trash picked up every other week. (It’s especially tough for us, because we use the smallest can they have available.)

But I digress. I finished the taxes just as David woke up to our alarm. He made breakfast as I printed the forms and dropped them into my Box of St. Deb the Helpful, a catch-all for everything I almost finished before the trip. You know: cookies sold but not delivered, library books to return, an important form to fax – all stuff that I could have gotten done, but not at 6 AM on the last day.

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! so, so grateful, that we made it here safe and sound. Praise the Lord for a safe trip!
  • I’m lighter! I really had to let some stuff go in the packing… though we still ended up with too much stuff.