Have you ever had one of those days when you looked around a room in your house — I’m guessing it’s your kitchen — and discovered that the few important notices you had carefully collated (on the bench, perhaps?!) had suddenly turned into a gigantic pile of paper?
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I am surprised by a massive stack of paperwork, I tend to shudder inadvertently — you know, the way you do when you see an unexpected cockroach in your otherwise impeccably clean home — before averting my gaze, and then I try to ignore the slightly nauseated feeling building in my stomach by actively turning my attention to something else.
Like cleaning the oven, for example. Because even that chore is more enjoyable than tackling a huge mess of household filing, isn’t it?
Well, it doesn’t have to be.
And that’s where Filing Happy comes in.
Now, as you can probably tell from what I’ve written so far, there are occasions when I’m as guilty as the next person of neglecting my household filing. I know how overwhelming it can feel to see a stack of papers that need sorting, and how difficult it can be to motivate yourself to tackle that stack. I also know how not being able to find something in the midst of all that…stuff…can make you feel panicked, or ever so slightly out of control. And, finally, I completely understand that there are times when little things — like life, for example — get in the way of our best-organised selves.
One of the reasons I started Blue Jai Creative is that, despite the fact that I’m far from perfect, I happen to be really good at sorting things out. I love developing systems. Logical, user-friendly systems, even. And I’m awesome at organising stuff. Any kind of stuff, really.
So here are my three top tips for beating the paperwork blues, and for getting yourself well on the way to Filing Happy:
1. Know where to look.
Everyone has places in their homes where stuff accumulates. You might know them as hot spots, or drop zones, or dumping grounds. These are the spots where things pile up: school newsletters, product warranties, utility bills, unclaimed medical receipts, the page you tore out of the toy catalogue because there’s a super special on the Lego your six year old desperately wants for their birthday (and no, I have not been snooping through your windows when you’re not at home).
Step One of Filing Happy is to identify the places where things accumulate in your home, to develop an awareness of where things pile up, and what’s most likely to end up there.
2. Separate the Active from the Passive.
Once you know where your papers accumulate, the next step is to sort them out. Don’t freak out — I’m not talking about finding every last gas bill, car registration certificate and school report and paper-clipping them into neat and tidy piles. All we’re doing here is separating the papers that need attention from those that don’t.
So, Step Two of Filing Happy is simply to separate the papers into two piles: an Active pile of papers that require some sort of action (such as unpaid bills, school permission slips, even that Lego special), and a Passive pile of papers that you’ve already dealt with (and don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for doing that — good for you).
3. Find something —anything — positive to get you going.
Now that you have your Active and Passive piles, the logical next step is to deal with the (hopefully much smaller) Active pile. In the time it takes to boil the kettle, you’ve hopefully managed to sort the Active pile by prioritising it — and in my experience, this tends to be by due date. If you’re still going by the time the kettle has boiled, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and keep working away while you drink it.
If caffeine isn’t your thing, maybe put on some music you like. Maybe you can aim to sort the pile before your favourite song finishes playing. The point of Step Three of Filing Happy is simply to build in something enjoyable to the experience so you stick with the task until it’s done.
Now, I’m not going to get into what to do with the Passive Pile today — that’s a whole other post entirely, though the principles are fairly similar.
Needless to say, if you feel like you need more help, or some tailor-made tips, or just a simple kickstart, please get in contact with Blue Jai Creative. It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s your home or business that needs sorting, I’m here to help. But it might help if you know this:
I’m not emotionally invested in your stuff, whatever it is, so I can deal with it far more easily than you can.
I don’t judge. We’ve all been there at some point — believe me. And, it goes without saying, I treat your stuff (whatever it is) with respect, discretion and absolute confidentiality.
At Blue Jai Creative, I’m all for finding solutions that work for you, whether they be paperless, or colour-coded, or list-based, or whatever it is that makes you feel comfortable and in control.
Because that’s what Filing Happy is all about.