Tout Pret

write it out

The sanity-saving act of putting fingers to keys…

It feels like forever since I’ve posted here, and it’s such a relief to have my fingers back on the keys, tapping away so I can make sense of it all.

A fair bit has changed for me in the past six weeks or so: I’ve started a new job and taken on a volunteering role in addition to the work I already do. And although I’ve managed to keep my employment within school hours (which as any working mother will tell you is about the closest thing you’ll get to a modern day miracle), I have missed being here, in my small patch of cyberspace, and have found myself yearning for just five more minutes than I actually had so I could bash out a blogpost.

And because I didn’t have those extra five minutes, the school uniforms got hurriedly ironed instead. Or I threw together some lunch for the next day at the office. Or I quickly sipped a life-saving cup of tea before I jumped back into the car to pick up whichever child from whatever sporting practice/birthday party/school event/playdate they happened to be at.

But I still wanted to be here, sharing the musings of the Daydream Believer.

I’ve often joked with my mates that I’m not a very pleasant person to be around if I haven’t been writing something — writing anything. And the more time I spent attempting to adjust myself and my (occasionally uncooperative) family members to the new set of circumstances I had brought to bear on our world, the less time I spent putting words on a page.

Any words. On any page.

I could feel myself starting to unravel a bit. To come unstuck. Maybe even a little unhinged…

And I knew that meant I had to prepare.

Preparation works for me. It’s why I make lists — on the backs of envelopes, in notebooks, on my phone, even on the back of my hand. It’s why I have a bullet journal (and by this I mean a battered book I lug everywhere and in which I scrawl utterly irreverently, not some sort of pristine Pinterest-worthy portfolio with natty colour coded tabs). It’s why I menu plan. It’s why I write out timetables for my kids. It’s why I have a small filing system in my kitchen to keep track of everything from permission forms to potential holiday plans. It’s why I mentally review my to do list in bed each night. It’s why I allocate time to thinking things through and planning them out.

think

I reckon there’s one in every family…

Preparation is also, perhaps, in my blood. The motto of the clan into which I was born is “Tout Pret” — which means, of course, “all ready”. And while I do realise that our family words probably have more to do with a well-honed Highland propensity to fight off (just about any) invading force rather than a simple willingness to get the domestic drudgery done, recent family history does seem to indicate that we still possess a tendency towards preparedness and — consequently — to getting things done.

And so here I am: back on the page, still trying to making sense of it all, but knowing that I I made the plans and made the time to be here, now — with my words.

As always, it’s doing what you have to do before you do what you want to do.

what you wanna do

It’s doing what you really want to do…

It’s being true to my self and to what I believe.

It’s coming home.

It’s in my blood.

Tout Pret.

Filing Happy

BJB Filing Mess

…that pile of household filing that makes you shudder like you’ve just seen a cockroach.

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?

Thought so.

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.

BJB Filed

Find something positive to kickstart the action – even if it’s making it pretty!

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.