January 31st, 2010

planet

filing

I woke up this morning and way too many of the covers and found there way on top of me. The first words out of my mouth were, "I'm hot." Marc blinked and said, "I'm a little bit country."

Anyway it was a fun day, in the morning we cleaned the guinea pigs' cage and trimmed their toenails. I did some paperwork and filing stuff because we have an organizational nightmare on our hands. For the last three years, our organizations system has gone like this:
1) Get the mail
2) If it looks like trash, throw it away
3) If it looks important in a "take action" kinda way, put it on the table
4) If it looks like we need to keep it, like a bank statement, but not because it's interesting, throw it in this basket thing

Then once in a while we open the "table mail" which consists of bills or subpoenas or whatever, and after it gets handled it also gets thrown in The Basket.

I OWN a file cabinet with drawers and folders, but they're marked with helpful things like "CABLE BILLS FROM 2003". Sighs. So today I spent a few hours shredding old stuff for guinea pig bedding and putting the contents of The Basket into files that I thought I could maintain. Less structure... I obviously can't handle having separate folders for Insurance, Health Care, Electric, etc. I now have folders for 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and taxes. I'm a doer.

Not saying that the mail won't pile up on the table... just that we might be able to work it out of The Basket more than every other year.

I think I have learned something too about filing systems. When I first became a grown-up I thought you filed because organization just felt right, it was good to keep your health care statements separate from insurance premiums because they're separate things. I think differently now. I've learned that I very rarely need to look up what my current insurance policy is. It's a rare enough need that when it does happen, it can go slow, I can just be pointed in a general area and that's good enough. Looking through five years of papers would be bad but one year really isn't.

No... filing isn't about organizing as much as you can, it's about finding that precious balance. Too many folders and you'll never get to it. Too few and you'll have a headache looking through stacks trying to figure out what's old enough to throw away. Figuring out how to divide up papers requires a cost-benefit analysis, keeping practicality and flexibility in mind. It's a science meant to keep you from going crazy, not push you towards it.